Drill, baby, drill! Drill, baby, drill!
When you heard this chant during Rudy Giuliani's speech at the Republican National Convention, what reaction did it evoke in you? Did you get excited and jump up and down and throw your fists into the air and chant with the crowd? Were you so angry at the Democrats' calls for alternative energy research that you wanted to join in the chant? Or did you (like me) listen with wide eyes, shuddering and wondering if you were missing something?
Although I am a registered Republican, I have not yet decided who will receive my vote in the November election. There are a few things about each candidate that I like, and a laundry list of things about each that I don't. In fact, the "not-so-happy-about-this-quality/belief/record" list is so long that I've actually contemplated not voting in the election (I say this with fear and trembling, as non-participation in elections could be cause for being ousted from my family). Upon hearing that I may not vote, several people have told me, "If you don't vote, you can't complain. And I know you can't help but complain." Okay, okay. I guess I'll have to vote. I think I'm leaning toward McCain (after hearing Lieberman and Palin speak), but hearing the "drill, baby, drill" chant made me wonder if I could really do it. Can I really cast my vote to a candidate who is supported by masses of people who actually believe that drilling is going to significantly improve our energy situation or solve any of our energy problems?
To be totally truthful with you, here is one of the scenes that I witnessed in my mind as I listened to that chant. This one in particular was the most impactful for me, which is why I share it with you here. What I saw was a group of pubescent teenage boys, stupid in all of their hormonal glory, surrounding a helpless young woman and waiting for their turn to...well, you can figure out the rest. I saw mob mentality, when all rationality is thrown out the window, when logic means nothing, and it seemed so similar to the chant I was hearing on tv...when we think as a group, sometimes we don't think at all.
If we decide to start new drilling in Alaska or install new rigs offshore, it should be with heavy hearts. It should not be a celebration, but rather a last-ditch effort to save our country as we know it. It should not make us want to sing and dance and act victorious. It should make us take a deep breath and sigh, because we are at the end of our rope and have no choice but to do what we wish we didn't have to do. When we discover new technology for alternative energy sources, when we find realistic, reliable, clean ways to power our cars and refrigerators and air conditioners, that should make us sing and dance. That should make us shout for joy and chant and rally together.
I am a free market girl. I do not believe in government regulation. I do not believe in significant government involvement beyond what local governments and non-governmental organizations cannot do for us. I do believe in preserving and restoring our environment. Trying to balance those seemingly oppositional beliefs is tough. As one who works hard to keep all of my beliefs in perfect balance, here is how I reconcile my free market values with my desire to maintain a pristine environment: consumers are the key. Consumers must demand clean sources of energy. I've read that arctic drilling wouldn't really improve our oil supply for ten years anyway, but for a moment let's just pretend that we could turn on some faucet and have all the oil we want...until it runs out. What would that solve? Yes, in the short term SOME people would be helped by the cheaper gas prices, but apparently those same people, and many more, are already learning how to conserve gas. We're creative -- we're figuring out solutions to the high cost of gas. We combine trips, we carpool, we ride our bikes, we're buying energy-efficient cars. According to this Reuters article, "U.S. oil demand over the past four weeks has been running about 3.5 percent below a year ago and gasoline consumption appears on track for its first annual decline since the early 1980s." We have the ability to conserve while we wait for another solution, and seeing the high gas prices on the gas station sign will only make us more eager for alternative energy. Drilling is a very short term solution to a very long term problem -- a long term problem we're not motivated to solve if gas prices go back down.
I guess what I'm saying is that, in order to be a catalyst for change, the government needs to leave drilling at current levels and force consumers to continue to demand something better.