Sunday, June 13, 2010

Unquenchable thirst: The many things we do with oil.

Dave Rochlin - www.climatepath.org

With BP's broken underwater well still leaking oil into the gulf at an alarming rate, there are many calls to reduce our dependence on oil of all kinds.

Animator Mark Fiore recently did a wonderful video highlighting the bizarre notion of using "dinosaur squeezings" to power cars.



But oil is used in a lot more than our gas tanks. Petroleum is in many other products, and we use it for many of our processes. We also rely on it to grow, cook, eat, and even enhance our food. This second video, featuring eco-man and badger girl (which I made with the cool web tool xtranormal), highlights this.



I'm no Mark Fiore, but you get the point, I hope. A fairly exhaustive web list of many of the everyday goods that come from oil is available here, courtesy of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association. The list covers everything from ballet tights to venetian blinds. It certainly is food for thought. The list isn't 1001 items long, but easily could be.

The website also quotes Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.N. Ambassador for the United States.

"Oil is a product that arouses so much passion. A lot of people have a passionate fear, or distaste, or downright hatred almost for oil. There is no other product that so many people need so badly, yet so many people believe should be produced entirely without profits."

As long as we need it "so badly", there isn't much chance we are going to stop drilling for oil off our shores. While there is a lot of talk about alternative energy, it seems that we also need to reconsider the role of oil as an input for all the other things we consume.

Photo copyright TommL at istockphoto.com

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