Yesterday's vote on oil-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has me thinking about a class I took my freshman year at Ohio University. I can't remember the name of the class, but the required books included a slim volume by Barry Commoner - probably The Politics of Energy.
I'd lived through the 1970s energy crisis and remembered my parents lining up with dozens of other motorists on the day they were allowed to buy gasoline at our corner station. Reading Commoner's work a few years later, I was rocked by its clear call for conservation and energy alternatives - stuff even a college freshman could understand. Ever since, not a year has gone by that I haven't wondered, "Barry Commoner suggested all this stuff years ago. Why haven't we done it?" Here in Idaho, our GOP-dominated legislature is getting ready to pass a $1.6 billion road-construction bonding package that includes not one penny for public transportation. The ANWR vote and the Idaho road-building mania both show: We are verrrrrrrry slow learners.
In a Newsweek web commentary, Ronald Reagan's daughter Patti Davis writes, "I don’t believe this is even about oil; after all, we won’t see any of it for another decade. This is about another victory for the Bush administration. This is about Bush leaving his footprint on yet another corner of the earth and then walking away and not looking back at the damage he has left behind. It’s how he has lived his life—failing to acknowledge the consequences of his actions."
Thankfully, yesterday's Senate vote may not be the last word on ANWR, and there are people and organizations out there working to imagine a future where we don't make decisions based on our addiction to fossil fuels - and indeed, we work to lessen that addiction, not exacerbate it.