Gulf spill shows perils of fossil fuels

May 04, 2010

The photo in the Baltimore Sun on May 1 of the white gannet covered in brown oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a casualty of an invasion, one caused by our relentless desire for cheap energy and willful ignorance of the consequences. A man who earns his living in Louisiana described being able to smell the oil as it approached the coastline, the destroyer of everything he knows and loves. The invader represents an addict who up to now has shown no interest in weaning off of oil. Oil "independence" still means using oil. And the hurricane season starts in less than a month.

The best outcome of this disaster would be a world-wide push to eventually end all drilling for oil and all mining for coal. The energy we extract from the earth should only be used to buy us a little time to find other non-toxic sources of energy. What we have already extracted should be continuously recycled. We must completely re-think our energy use and how we want to survive on the planet. There is no politician of power in the United States who is willing to take this on, and even if she or he existed, collectively we are not ready for that person.

Thus the answer to the headline of the Sun on Earth Day ("Have we really seen the light?") floats on the Gulf, and in the remarks quoted in The Sun of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, indicating we are still not willing to shut down drilling for oil there.

Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, Towson

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