HomeFocus On The Drive-in Utopia is Closed

The Drive-in Utopia is Closed

By Dennis R. Lieb —

Is the planet trying to tell us something? Over the past two centuries it has given up its resources to us; at first freely, then more begrudgingly, and lately with great resistance and negative side effects. It might do us well to examine at what cost we pry the last remnants of cheap energy from the ever-more-obstinate earth. Many people view history as a disconnected series of events they had to learn about in high school rather than the living continuum from “then” to “now” that it really represents. The Industrial Revolution appears to many to be the culmination of a series of Divine rights that has placed us at the cusp of today’s cheap oil fiesta—a stasis of easy living that never ends—rather than just a phase we must move through in order to get to what comes next.

Will generations to come look back at the Industrial Revolution as a necessary stepping stone to an enlightened future or the last grotesque deformations of a society in collapse?

It really should have been called the Fossil Fuel Revolution anyway, because without it none of the other industrial processes we take for granted would have been possible. But at what point do we realize that the drive-in utopia is over and that it is time for the next chapter in human history? Will generations to come look back at the Industrial Revolution as a necessary stepping stone to an enlightened future or the last grotesque deformations of a society in collapse?

If you live in Easton you get your drinking water from the Delaware River. So do 17 million other people in Philadelphia, New York City, and the metro areas of PA and NJ. Once it is spoiled you will be getting your water in bottles—at 100 times the cost—from corporate scumbags like Coca-Cola and Nestle.

Once our land and water is destroyed you can kiss this state’s reputation as a Mecca for tourism, hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities goodbye… and that reputation—along with the economic value of those activities—won’t be coming back.

Once local property owners can’t drink their own well water or live safely on their own land, the drilling corporations will buy it up for pennies on the dollar and do with it whatever is deemed cost effective for their operations.

We will go from a state of individual, small land owners and vast, public lands set aside for the recreational use of all people to a privately held, corporate serfdom. They are already drilling on public land—contrary to state law—thanks to our Governor’s willingness to balance the budget on the backs of future generations’ water supply. I see no indication that his possible replacements will think any differently. Are they taking gas money for their campaigns? You bet.

We have everything to lose by ignoring this gas drilling invasion. With the oil disaster in the Gulf de-legitimizing deep water drilling; with recent coal mine disasters; with our failed national policy towards leveling the playing fields for renewable energy sources; and with the labeling of natural gas as ”clean & safe”, all indicators are that this country will further defer the necessary transition to renewables and again take the path of least resistance with the “safe choice” of natural gas.

If you want to see just how clean and safe gas is at the production end, you can’t afford not to see this film [‘Gasland’, showing Thursday, July 15, 2010]. If you want to protect you drinking water supply from corporate destruction you must be sure to see it. If you want to make good choices for the future, you will demand to know from those running for Governor this fall how they will stop this disaster before it starts.

All indicators point towards the Marcellus shale formation becoming the golden goose for the near term energy needs of the U.S. It is a false choice. The golden goose will not survive. We in Pennsylvania have sovereignty over our shale gas deposits. We can decide to leave them in the ground for the betterment of the state and the region. We can decide that compact communities, walkable neighborhoods, and rail transit is the better alternative. Running the nation’s auto fleet on NatGas vehicles is insanity wrought large and does nothing to stop the congestion and sprawl that is destroying us. More cars running on a different fuel source solves nothing.

When a child wants something they can not or should not have they will often do things detrimental to their own well-being to get it. If the piggy bank is full of quarters that the child wants to spend on candy and no one is there to stop him, he will smash the bank open to get the money out. Once it is spent, the short-term urge is satisfied. The piggy bank lies shattered on the floor, but you can’t put it back together. You can’t use it anymore to save for the next thing you want.

If we destroy the naturally-occurring qualities of Pennsylvania—the qualities that provide us with clean drinking water and the natural landscapes and waterscapes that everyone cherishes—then we will have the short term gain of cheap energy for a few more short years. We will have deferred yet again the needed transition to a better way of life that is already overdue. We will not be exchanging the broken piggy bank of our lost landscapes and waterscapes for new ones at WalMart.

We will just be screwed… forever.

Think about it… Go to the movie.


Originally posted on the Neighbors of Easton blog July 2, 2010

This entry was posted in Air, Energy, Environment & Ecosystems, Environmental Health, Stewardship, Systemic Approaches, Water & Watersheds, Wildlife and tagged .

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