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I don't normally copy crap from blogspot on to LJ, but this is something I just feel so strongly about, I am going to repost it.

* * *

Maybe some of you are tired of seeing this picture already.

You know what? Tough shit.

You should tattoo this picture on the inside of your eyelids. This image should haunt your dreams. Every time you fill up your gas tank, you should think about this. Every time you hear some moronic politician of any stripe utter the meaningless phrase "reduce our dependency on foreign oil," this picture should be what you think about.

I don't make it a secret that I earn my living from the oil industry, and have done so for the past five years. I also don't normally make it a giant talking point. It's quite likely that when I get out of grad school in a couple of years with a Masters' in geology under my belt, I will return to the industry that set me on this academic course and work as a petroleum geologist.

But that doesn't mean I have to support everything that my industry does, or the absolutely stupid attitude that this country has toward oil and natural gas.

And it is stupid. Very, very stupid. Unless you're a believer in abiotic oil1, you have to come to grips with the realization that oil is an extremely limited natural resource. When it's gone, it's gone. And unless you're pandering, lying, or completely ignorant of how the oil business works, you have to understand that drilling more does nothing to diminish America's oft-cited dependency on "foreign" oil. We're not a country where oil drilling and production is nationalized. When oil is sucked out of formations in America, it doesn't go into a giant barrel marked "For Americans only." While we are a net importer we do export oil. Mostly it's Alaska and West Coast oil going to countries around the Pacific Rim; but the point is, oil produced in America does not automatically belong to us, the American people. And further, increasing the supply of oil is at best only a temporary solution; it does not decrease the demand, and oil - as I've said before - is a limited natural resource.

When I hear any of the slogans - "Drill, baby, drill" or "Drill here, drill now" being the worst offenders - frankly, it makes me want to vomit2. It's short-sighted, it's irresponsible, and it displays the sort of willful ignorance and dishonesty that has plagued our country since before the Exxon Valdez disaster. If we're truly worried about the fact that we import massive amounts of oil, that we are gobbling up a limited resource as quickly as it can be drawn from the ground, the solution is not to drill and speed the depletion. The solution is to reduce the demand, period.

So I bet you're wondering now why on Earth I'm working for an oil company, and why I'm considering a career as a petroleum geologist, since I'm apparently so anti-oil.

Part of it is financial, and I'm honest enough to admit that. My years in this industry have been the best of my working adult life. My company treats its people incredibly well, and I find the work very intellectually stimulating.

But more importantly, it is because I'm not anti-oil. I'm anti-stupidity and anti-irresponsibility. And those are the two qualities that have marked the handling of the industry and the public's general reaction to it since... well, ever, I'd say.

I believe that it is possible for oil companies to drill in a responsible manner that limits the environmental impact to almost zero. I believe that risky projects shouldn't be undertaken unless every possible precaution has been taken and the environmental impacts have been thoroughly studied and understood.

I believe that it is the government's job to step in and make certain that happens with strict regulation, monitoring, and enforcement, because frankly I think it's stupid to expect people to monitor themselves when they're in a situation where all profit is private but risk is shared out with the public, willing or no.

I believe it was industry irresponsibility that caused the slow-motion disaster that continues to horrify me every day, and it was also government irresponsibility. And frankly, it was also the irresponsibility of each and every person in America that has bought into the lie that business and industry don't need regulation.

But even more important - and I am going to put this in bold, because if you take nothing else away from this post, I want you to remember this - I believe that oil is an amazing and versatile natural resource that could be used to the general benefit of humanity and it is a crime that we are burning it.

Other posts to read:
An Open Letter To Anyone Who Ever Said "Drill, Baby, Drill"
The Power of a Photograph...

1 - Often referred to as "snake oil" or "horse shit" by most geologists I've ever encountered - and keep in mind that most of my geologists buddies are card-carrying members of AAPG.

2 - And not just because it's often being said by Sarah Palin.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
Excellent post. I agree wholeheartedly.
May. 6th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
Go Katsu!
May. 22nd, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
On a tangentially related note, you may find this interesting:

Does Being Green mean Going Nuclear?

A substantial amount of the world's known deposits of uranium are under the ground right here in Australia. So what are we to do with it all? Ian Lowe wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. He says 'No' to Nuclear Power.Barry Brook says 'Yes' to Nuclear Power. Two passionate environmentalists debate this vital issue.
May. 6th, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC)
*stands up and applauds*
May. 7th, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)
May. 7th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
Oh baby, I wish you could talk some sense to some of those idiot cons and libertarians in my political comms. Their view on gas and environment would make your eyes bleed.
May. 7th, 2010 11:46 am (UTC)
Argh, I bet. What just puzzles me is... okay, fine, maybe there are people that don't care about the environment. But ignoring the basic economics is just bizarre. (Then again, I often think that libertarians have slept through economics 101. :P)
May. 7th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
numberz is hard!
May. 7th, 2010 11:21 am (UTC)
Is it possible to talk sense into idiots? I've tried every approach I can think of, from kind, to empathetic, even selfish . . . Idiots seem to just hear "blah blah blah" and keep going. >_< Granted, I don't know enough about oil to talk about it, I simply don't know enough to discuss options. I know we should reduce, but convincing a whole country? With as much of a "Disposable" mentality this country has, it's certainly an uphill battle. Personally, I keep my car well tuned to reduce my personal use of oil (it's MPG is higher than most hybrids and it's a fifteen year old car). Of course, I also bang my head on the desk when people don't listen to good sense.

Sorry, I started babbling . . .
May. 8th, 2010 11:15 am (UTC)
From the abiotic oil article you linked:

"oil is not a product of decaying dinosaurs and prehistoric forests, but that oil is constantly being produced by the earth, far below the planet's surface, and that it is brought to attainable depths by the centrifugal forces of the earth's rotation."

The stupid is making my brain hurt.
May. 9th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
These are the things people will tell themselves when they can't handle the fact that oil is going to run out some day.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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