There’s a better way than oil: Solar


editors-blog-entry3You might think that drinking water in Nebraska and roadway safety in Idaho have nothing to do with solar-charged driving.

But you’d be wrong.

They’re intricately connected – via the hypodermic needle of oil addiction.

oil-pipelineSome eye-opening stats on our addiction to oil — & some alternatives

> The transportation sector is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gasses in the U.S. (Source: EPA)

> U.S. oil refineries used 42,682 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2008 & used about 10 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration)

> 96 percent of transportation in the U.S. is fueled by oil (Source: Two Cents Per Mile)

> The transportation sector uses 72% of the oil consumed in the U.S. (Source: Rocky Mountain Institute)

> Transportation is the world’s fastest-growing form of energy use, accounting for nearly 30% of world energy use and 95% of global oil consumption. (Source: Worldwatch Institute)

> Conventional oil reserves are now declining about 4-6% a year worldwide. (Source: UK Guardian)

> The number of cars in the world is expected to grow from 900 million today to 1.5 billion or more by 2030. (Source:

> The U.S. spends nearly $1 billion a day to import foreign oil. (Source: Huffington Post)

> The U.S. EPA has reported 180 confirmed oil spills every week since 2000. (Source:

> Half of new power generation added in the United States in 2009 was renewable energy. (Source: DailyTech.Com)

> 73 percent of Americans want to cut fossil fuel dependency in favor of cleaner methods. (Source: DailyTech.Com)

> A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) can reduce gasoline consumption by more than 70%. (Source: U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

> An electric car is four times as efficient as a gas-powered car. (Source: Plug In America)

>Supplies of wind and solar energy on accessible land dwarf the energy consumed by people around the globe. (Source: Scientific American)

>Each hour, enough sunlight reaches Earth to meet the world’s energy needs for a year. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy)

Thanks to our insatiable appetite for the Black Gold – the vast majority of it fed by the transportation sector — we’re going after oil in harder to get to, more dangerous, and more ecologically fragile areas than ever before.

Take, for example, Canada’s tar sands region where Big Oil is working feverishly to extract oil from sand using a method that actually consumes more energy than it produces. Not only is this process filthy, inefficient and downright environmentally degrading, it’s the impetus behind a push to construct a giant oil pipeline that will snake across thousands of miles of North America, from Northern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

A giant, snaking oil pipeline
Among other things, the pipeline’s proposed route would place it directly over Nebraska’s giant Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies 78 percent of the drinking water and 83 percent of the water for irrigation in the Cornhusker State. This potential threat to something that comes pretty darn close to all of the arable water in the entire state of Nebraska has been enough to motivate Nebraska’s Republican U.S. Senator Mike Johanns to propose the pipeline be moved eastward.

It’s also motivated the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations to fight the sprawling network of Canadian oil sands related pipelines and refineries that, much like a serious of intravenous IVs, would feed America’s ravenous oil consumption.

So, let’s see: We’ve got massive environmental degradation at the point of extraction, we’ve got outrageous inefficiency which sees the oil sands extraction process consume more energy than it produces, and we’ve got an impending thousands-of-miles long oil pipeline that just might end up going right over one of the biggest freshwater aquifers in America’s breadbasket.

Idaho residents suing
But wait, there’s more!

bigoilteeOil companies want to ship hundreds of gargantuan pieces of tar sands equipment, some of which weigh more than 600,000 pounds, stand as tall as a three-story building, and stretch two-thirds the length of a football field across thousands of miles of roadways in the U.S. and Canada, including right through the heart of some of the most pristine wilderness in America.

In order to do this, the companies will have to shut down miles and miles of two-lane roadways in Idaho and Montana for large chunks of time, potentially creating an emergency care hazard in the process. This has been enough to inspire some Idaho residents along the proposed route to sue the State to halt the shipments.

All of this so that you – and I – can zoom to our local gas station and ‘fill ‘er up’, usually without giving any thought at all to the dirty production and distribution syringe we plug in to to get our daily oil fix.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

We don’t need a massive, expensive, inefficient and environmentally destructive infrastructure that literally crisscrosses the entire globe in order to deliver fuel that’s been extracted thousands of miles away.

There’s a better way, a more efficient way, a less expensive way, a more democratic way, a far-more environmentally friendly way, and a far, far more local way to get the fuel that we need to power our cars and trucks: Put solar panels on our homes, on our warehouses and shopping malls, and over our parking lots and send the electric fuel they produce not tens of thousands of miles, not thousands of miles, not hundreds of miles but just a few feet directly into the batteries of our plug-in vehicles.

It makes so much more sense, don’t you think?

What you can do to help stop the Canada oil sands debacle

1. Check out the eye-opening web site, Dirty Oil Sands.
2. Sign on to The Sierra Club’s ‘Stop the Oil Sands Pipelines’ petition.
3. Inform your friends and family about the oil sands, the proposed pipeline, and the proposed shipment of gargantuan pieces of equipment through pristine U.S. wilderness areas.
4. Go to the web site ‘Fighting Goliath’ and learn more about how you can help local Idahoans stop the shipment of giant oil sands equipment through one of America’s most scenic areas.
5. Most importantly, consume less oil! There are multiple ways to reduce your oil consumption–>

  • Drive less and walk, bike and take public transportation more.
  • Drive more conservatively: Don’t speed, accelerate evenly, and don’t wait until the last second to brake.
  • Keep your vehicle’s tire pressure at recommended levels.
  • Buy a fuel efficient gasoline car.
  • Buy a hybrid.
  • Buy a plug-in hybrid such as a Chevy Volt
  • Buy an electric car such as a Nissan LEAF.
  • Buy an electric car or plug-in hybrid – or both — and power as many miles driven as possible via electricity generated by renewable energy forms such as solar, wind and geothermal.

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