In the time it takes most people to read this sentence, the world will have (permanently) used up almost 8,000 barrels of oil — 336,000 gallons at 1,000 barrels per second, according to a 2008 article in the European Tribune. America alone accounts for 25 percent of that usage.
Nearly everything we consume runs on or has been produced or shipped, with oil. Our national oil dependence encompasses America’s political, economic and environmental balance. If we continue our reliance, that delicate balance will soon topple over.
In 2008, America imported crude oil from 10 countries that are classified by the State Department Travel Warning List as “dangerous or unstable.” Despite this, we fund their governments, thus contributing to the countries’ economic disparity, and therefore political and economic instability.
It’s a vicious cycle that American consumers are partly responsible for. When already questionable governments receive vast amounts of money from oil exports, the people don’t benefit, and therefore their country becomes unstable. Where will America be if one of these countries engages in civil war and is not able to meet our crude oil needs?
Foreign oil not only strains political ties, but it also strains our fragile economy. Only two percent of the world’s oil reserves can be found in America, yet we are the number one oil consumers. America spends roughly $30 billion annually on imported oil. In our current economic climate, it seems unwise to spend so much American money on non-American goods. We have the technology for alternative fuel but, out of habit, we keep relying on oil bought from other countries and shipped overseas. Many scientists and analysts fear that it will take the inevitable scarcity of oil in order to make Americans change their ways.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the United States is the number two producer of carbon in the world. This statistic is directly related to our reliance on oil. When oil burns, it produces carbon, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to Ozone depletion.
Many of the climate inconsistencies have been attributed to our ever-thinning Ozone layer, caused by these emissions. Ecosystems are being affected, forcing animals to quickly adapt or become extinct. Weather patterns are more violent and unpredictable, potentially causing natural disasters. Ice caps are melting, causing water levels to rise and coasts to disappear. Imagine Manhattan under water!
There are alternatives that are as easy as riding your bike to the grocery store or buying clothing made in America. Our country does not need to be so dependent on foreign producers, and we shouldn’t wait until we run out to find and capitalize on alternative fuel sources.
To learn more, please come to our next film in the Green Film Series, A Crude Awakening, on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Sweigart Auditorium (115). This film dives more deeply into this topic and is a real eye-opener. There also will be an information session in Daly’s on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. regarding this topic.
– Heather Jones