Just what is our relationship to gasoline?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A letter from Hans Noeldner, an active participant in the Madison Peak Oil Group, appeared in The Capital Times:

Dear Editor: Even as Americans feel pain at the pump, even as presidential candidates struggle to outdo each other railing against exorbitant oil profits, some pundits claim that prices "need" to be higher to convince us to break our addiction to oil and slash our greenhouse gas emissions.

Just what is our relationship to gasoline? And what would we like it to be?

We the people are responsible for restraining our own consumption and emissions to fair and sustainable levels, and for directing our government to enact prudent collective restraints via regulations, taxes, penalties, etc.

I choose to believe this. I would like you to choose this worldview too.

Citizens will not see gas as cheap no matter what the pump price is. Why? Because we will see the costs written in blood on gas pump handles, the costs written on the sky with global warming, the costs written on the landscape with earth-suffocating pavement, and the costs written on humanity with isolation and obesity and the destruction of healthy self-locomotion. Citizens will not need dollars and cents to communicate these "externalities" to us.

Citizens will avoid touching gas pump handles as much as possible. We will also point out the costs in blood and greenhouse gases and such to our families, friends, neighbors and fellow congregants.

True, right now most people are reluctant to acknowledge direct connections to their own behaviors. They say that the "little bit" they use doesn't matter. They say that if they burn less oil, someone else will just burn more. And they insist on "rights" to consume as much as they can personally afford.

Citizens will keep on standing for connections and responsibilities. And the people will join us.

Hans Noeldner