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Road kill on the road to nowhere

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
June 3, 2004


"Nature is rich: but everywhere man, the heir of nature, is poor." — Henry Demarest Lloyd

It is road kill season. Late spring being the time mothers with young start making their rounds, young mammals seeking habitat are easily crushed beneath the rush of humanity. No match for automobiles, mammalian carnage litters the roadway from sea to shining sea, while we the people show little concern for the ongoing ecocide. We just keep doing what we have always done. Which means other species continue to die due to human arrogance.

On my Aprilia the other day I scootered past a decidedly dead skunk whose ripeness prompted a realization. We are that skunk. As a mammal myself, the carcass of another being triggers introspection. Am I a part of this? Is this us? The answer always comes back "Yes." We are the skunk, the vehicle, the driver and the road. This is our doing. We did this.

Dead mammals in the middle of the road, and the drivers that kill them are just two examples of environmental injustice and ecological disconnect, and the perfect analogy for the ongoing oil crisis.

The news is everywhere; even the National Geographic Society is recognizing "The End of Cheap Oil." Peak oil production is past, and the cost and price of petroleum products will continue to increase, as supply decreases. It's elementary. Richard Heinberg's sobering expose, The Party is over; clearly makes the case oil monkeys are an endangered species with two options open to them. Evolve or die. Which translates into; adapt or perish while others do.

Nations and governments relying on fossil fuels are the proverbial skunk in the road. So too are those individuals unwilling to change course. Social Darwinism will favor those who are energy self-sufficient, capable of providing a smooth transition to a world without petroleum. Economic sustainability depends on a smooth transition.

Regardless of what a federal administration will or will not do, Californians must begin an immediate conversion to renewable energy resources. Job creation result in the design, building, and maintenance of a solar and wind generated infrastructure. As a Republic California is more than able to meet this challenge head-on as we have both the technological know how and an abundant access to sunlight and wind. As cleaner energy sources, harnessing these non-polluting environmental resources will contribute to cleaner air and water. Clean air and water is in the best interest of all Californians.

The continued consumption of fossil fuels is not.

Although some would disagree, it is obvious to most people, the battle for Iraq is just the latest skirmish over the control of global oil resources. Short on history, and long on impact, the petroleum era will end one way or another. Personally I would prefer the whimper model over the big bang associated with combustion engines. Trends are showing that it is going to get very ugly before it gets better. Assuming it will get better.

Historically the price of gasoline has always gone up, yet most feign surprise and out rage, as if the unthinkable were happening. How many businesses will survive when the price of gasoline reaches 5 dollars a gallon? Such a price is inevitable in the foreseeable future, yet few steps are being taken towards sustainable alternatives. It could be said civilization's addiction to fossil fuels is as pro-life as crossing Interstate 5 on foot, during low visibility conditions.

We are the skunk.

It could be said that as a species, we possess a selective blindness that allows us to disassociate ourselves from our destructive actions. What else would explain the damage we do in the name of progress? One needs only experience the morning commute in San Diego County to understand how we are able to ignore the dire of circumstances in favor of a perceived convenience.

We are the vehicle, the driver and the road.

Road kill is an ugly reflection of our culture, impossible to see behind the wheel of our urban assault vehicles. Having moved way beyond overkill, the evidence of the senseless violence permeating western industrialism is no longer in question as the casual slaughter of other species goes without notice. We are driving the engine of destruction, just as the engine of destruction drives us.

Ask yourself, "Will we be able to resist the lure of the oncoming headlights?"

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