Let’s not give up on oil so quickly . . .
Fred Ryan recently told us the Market had “generated our comfortable life-styles”, but “failed as a means of moderating destructiveness.” (Editorial of October 30, 2019) The Market is an economic system meant to produce what consumers want; its role is neither to promote nor moderate destructiveness. Whatever destructiveness there has been, we, the citizens, have created it .... by the choices we made. We are the Market.
What part of our “comfortable life-styles” should we have done without? Should we have seen to it that the motor car did not develop beyond what Henry Ford provided? Scorned the Wright brothers for wanting to fly? Learned to be satisfied with steam, as a source of energy? And, today, yearn for a return of the tall-ships? We sought to do better, to move faster, further, and in greater comfort.
Now, we’re having doubts about the burning of oil and the deleterious effects it may be having on climate. Fine. But do we really want to limit our use of oil, before we’ve found a viable alternative? Hydro Quebec has been working, for decades, on batteries that will make the electric vehicle a more attractive buy. Many other energy-producing companies have also been looking for cleaner sources of energy; it’s not as though nothing were happening.
80% of our energy comes from hydrocarbons. However, though our efforts at finding viable alternatives have, to date, cost an estimated two to three trillion dollars, they’ve reduced our use of hydrocarbons by a meagre 2%. We should continue to seek alternatives, but not such as to hobble our economy and destroy our “comfortable lifestyles”.
We can control our own use of fossil fuel; that’s a choice we can make, as consumers. But, to prevent the oil industry from providing oil abroad would be counterproductive. We would be giving up a source of wealth and likely forcing some less developed nations to have recourse to energy sources more polluting than oil, thus further harming the planet.