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Should the Tar Sands Oil Flow?

If you are a parent or a grandparent, if you have not taken a stand in opposition to the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, what in the world are you thinking? You have an obligation to your children, and to your grandchildren to leave them a planet on which they will be able to live. We all owe that to those who will need, just as we needed, a planet that is as livable as we've enjoyed.

I often ponder the question, "Why would a parent sock away money for their child's, or, their children's education?"

Most parents would say, "Because I want my children to have an opportunity to get a good job, with the hope of making a good living."

I ask you, the parent, to consider this question, "What kind of life, or, better yet, what kind of living can our children possibly have when the livability of our planet may be so dire and so horribly depleted that no amount of money will make a difference in how an occupant of planet Earth will live?"

In my view of where the quality of life on Earth will be going in the next 10 to 100 years, here's my analysis of what we will most likely experience, unless we promptly and seriously, curtail our consumption of Fossil fuels:


We must quickly, and dramatically reduce our dependence on crude oil. The damage we are causing in the extraction, production, refining and transmission processes, are so completely and quickly destroying forests, grasslands, soils, freshwater and saltwater ecosystems -- as well as the quality of air we need to breathe -- that are all so vitally important to the health of our planet and ultimately to human health. The quality of air we need to breathe is continuing to deteriorate. As well, the ability of humans to enjoy safe and nutritious foods depends on the continued health of all ecosystems. When our major ecosystems fail, we will ultimately fail.

We must promptly and significantly reduce our dependence on coal. The decimation and destruction we are causing in extraction processes such as mountaintop mining (mountaintop removal) in West Virginia, are so thoroughly and violently destroying forests, streams and rivers, healthy and productive soils, the freshwater and saltwater ecosystems that are all being dramatically, and negatively altered, and that are so vitally important to the health of our planet and ultimately to human health. The continued burning of coal is so heavily burdening our lungs' ability to support our need for clean, breathable air.

We must rapidly and substantially reduce our dependence on natural gas. The damage being caused in the extraction, transmission, and production processes are so thoroughly and devastatingly altering the forests, grasslands, productive soils, the freshwater ecosystems and drinking water aquifers that are all so critically important to the health of our planet and to human health and existence. The continued poisoning of our groundwater, our aquifers, and surface waters is so completely in violation of any reasonable manner of behavior expected of a caring and humane society. As with crude oil and coal -- both forms of fossilized carbon -- the emissions inherent in the extraction of, and processing of natural gas, are wreaking tremendous harm on human health and our ability to breathe the quality of air we need to sustain a healthy existence.

The detrimental and harmful effects on humans and all species due to the continued accumulation of and increase in the amount of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, are wreaking damage that is fast approaching a level of destruction from which we may not be able to recover. The climate change occurring may not be reversible. The degradation of the quality of our air may be beyond the point of having breathable air in another 30 years. The damage being caused to marine ecosystems may be ultimately cemented when the majority of our last living coral reefs disappear into extinction in another fifteen years. As climates shift beyond natural history's well-preserved record, we will continue witnessing record numbers of species struggle to find food as they return to birthing and feeding grounds that are increasingly out-of-sync with those species' long-established genetic memory. As we lose each fellow species, we are that much closer to our final demise.

We can turn this around, and, we must do so now. Not later. We must not push this into 2015, and beyond. Today we must begin reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.


We must be the ones who determine what our world, our only planet, will look like and what it will provide us and our children. We cannot leave that decision to those who are driven only by money and greed.

We must invest in renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaics on our rooftops. Both the roof on our home and the roof on our place of work. Every major metropolitan area of the US has a residential solar PV lease or purchase plan available to all electricity users. Tax credits are available from the Feds, and local utility providers offer rebates. A typical home of 2000sf can produce between 4kW and 8kW of power for an investment of less than $8000. In many cases, that will power much of our needs. Wind generated power is a bit trickier, and still doable. Electric vehicles are real, they're here, and they're reliably getting upwards of 150 miles per charge, with charging and supercharging stations abundantly available in metropolitan areas and along most major interstate highway systems -- many charging stations are less than 100 miles apart. If you've not yet changed your residential lighting to LEDs, do so. LED lighting can use as little as 1/10th the wattage of incandescent, with no degradation in light quality or brightness.

If you really want to invest in your kids future, be proactive. Get up and make a difference. Be the change that you seek in the world. In your children's world.

Everything we humans do...

  • Growing our food
  • Bringing water into our homes and businesses
  • Protecting our self and family with shelter
  • Breathing for life-giving breath

These all require energy, currently, mostly fossil fuel energy, to be available to us for our survival.

Growing our food requires diesel, gas, and oil to till, plant and harvest with combustion-engine powered farming equipment.

Water could not exit our faucets without fossil fuels to power the plant that produces the electricity to run the water utility plant, pump the water through the supply system, to enter our homes and our places of work. If we draw water from a well, it must be pumped, most likely powered by fossil fuel generated electricity.

Our homes are built with power supplied by the utilities which are using coal, or, to a lesser extent, natural gas, and to an even lesser extent, wind or solar. Most homes on the US grid are powered by coal-fired power.

The quality of the air we so vitally need for life is critically dependent on what's being emitted by our power generating, industrial and transportation processes and systems. At this time, we're poorly managing the quality of air we need long-term for quality of life.

All of the above systems can be, and ultimately, must be powered by renewable energy sources, not fossil fuels. You can be proactive in making that transition now, sooner than later. Please do your part in making that happen.

Call your local power utility provider and ask to sign up for their wind-generated power option, or their solar power option. If they don't have those options available, click here to find a power provider who does provide wind-generated power.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming tomorrow.

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