The Preamble; Fix it or Nix It?



Transportation Without Petroleum or Biofuels

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

At present, oil saturates the Gulf Stream.  An official six-month cessation of permits for new drilling did not actually affect the industry or government decisions.  Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead.  To explain such an authorization and waiver, the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Services Division which regulates drilling, pointed to public statements by Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar.  He did not intend to forbid all first cuts in the Earth’s crust.  Absolutely not.  The Federal Government approved wells off the coast of Louisiana in June. Regardless of the day, or realities that are anathema to our citizenry, little has truly changed.  Today, just as in yesteryear, we, the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect Union, polish policies to appear as though our civilization would wish to protect and defend all beings, equally.  

In an earlier era, and now, the electorate embraces practices that establish justice, while we unreasonably raze the planet.  As a devoted citizenry, we insure domestic tranquility through appeasement. Furthermore, for the sake of homeland harmony, we adopt practices that encourage petroleum production, excessive oil and coal profits, whilst we also rob crops of their inherent dignity.  We, the countrymen, commit to the promise that we will provide for the common defense. In accordance with the demands of the public, policymakers further endorse perilous practices.  

These pursuits are realized in the form of perpetual war.  Blood for oil, minerals, or any resource that makes more money for the few, is what we, believe brings security to the native soil.   Our energy plans, or was it the profound Preamble to the United States Constitution, afforded us world prominence.  Globally, America is seen as powerful, so much so other countries chose to emulate us.  

Our governance and Preamble now belong to many a proud nation.  Collectively, in this country and the next, people clamor, “We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”

Over the years, there have been many opportunities to consider our constitution, our commitment to country, and our love of power.  Before this country was born, we could have seized on the chance to harness energy in a way that did not cause harm.  In 1766, British Scientist Henry Cavendish identified the energetic element, hydrogen.  By 1838, Swiss Chemist Christian Friedrich Schoenbein stumbled upon the “fuel cell.”  Only seven years later, Sir William Grove, an English Scientist and Judge, demonstrated the practicality of the discovery.  Mister Grove created a “gas battery.”  For this feat, he acquired the title “Father of the Fuel Cell.”

Most recall the Franklin kite experiment, which, while not the first appearance of an electrical consciousness certainly was one that gave us a jolt.  That event occurred in 1752.  Then, people began to realize that electricity, not produced from coal or dependent on fossil fuels, could make a meaningful difference in the society.  Initially, there were struggles.  Some people were afraid of an incomprehensible current.  A few did not wish to succumb to a change in lifestyle.  Convenience at a nominal cost convinced the citizenry to change their conventional ways, and of course, modify the meaning of the Constitution.

By 1769, with the advent of the first automobile, people began to ponder inexpensive means for mobility.  The invention of engines and the Industrial Revolution completed the conversion. Steamships and steam-powered railroads became the foremost forms of transportation.  These vessels used coal to fuel their boilers. Still, it was not until the 1880s that “coal was first used to generate electricity for homes and factories.”  Since then, there seemed no desire to turn back.  Way back when, our constitution, or at least the Preamble as practiced today, was set in stone.  

Give it to us cheap and dirty is the American credo.  We guzzle gas, burn through barrels of oil, and belch out endorsements for big businesses that earn billions on our backs.  Americans strip the countryside in search of more and more coal.  We savage the seas and shores whilst we annihilate all the creatures dependent on these.  Indeed, we ignore that we too are reliant on the chain of life to survive.  We disregard what science teaches us; each species and specimen plays a part in the planet’s endurance.  Instead, we loudly state, “We the people commit to cheap fossil fuels and biomass consumption that we have become accustomed to.”  Damn the damage to the planet, and ultimately to humans and all other populations.  We travel on, full speed ahead!

As the Gulf Bay puncture wound bleeds, present and former Governors, Jurists, and citizens clamor, Drill Baby Drill!  In June 2020, be it in Alaska, in the Gulf, anywhere, almost anywhere, regardless of known risks, we are ready!  We want our fix.  Fossil fuels and biomass flow through our blood.  Petroleum, or the reliance on this and other hazardous forms of energy, run our boats, cars, trains, planes, and our lives.  Even if a pipe, mineshaft, or the food chain are broken, the people say, Let it be!”

“Fix It or Nix It” defines the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity campaign. This statement is not an endorsement for renewable energy policies. Nor does it address the altered Preamble, No. This group does advocate for further advancements in fossil fuel usage.“ACCCE.cannot support the Kerry-Lieberman draft bill.”  This all-“powerful” organization considers these two Senators dissenters, or their proposed legislation a threat to the American way.  Reflective of past policies and practices, those who rebel are often forced into submission.  Popular opinion can suppress opposition.

Peers, polls, any pressure, can sway the people.  Promotional pieces are abundantly persuasive.  Ample advertisements feed the public and influence actions. Perhaps this explains why millions of people are easily fooled, or more likely just want to believe as we all do, that what we do now is wise.  

Factoids from associations such as the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity offer us food for thought.  Statements that support what we yearn for speak to our heart, head, and soul. These satisfy the American appetite for energy and satiate the anthem.  “We the people commit to inexpensive energy and welcome any reassurance that all is well, just as it is.”  

  • Coal costs less than any other major fossil fuel source.
  • According to an electric power industry journal, 23 of the 25 power plants in the U.S. that have the lowest operating costs (and therefore provide power to their consumers at the lowest prices) are powered by coal.
  • Thanks, in part, to $90 billion invested in new technologies, the environmental footprint of coal-based electricity generation has been significantly reduced.
  • Since 1970, the use of coal to generate electricity in the U.S. has nearly tripled in response to growing electricity demand.
  • Using coal to generate electricity is less than a 1/3 of the cost of other fuels.

Corporations that profit from the use of coal, petroleum, and biomass fuels flood the airwaves with anti alternative and renewable energy oratory.  Lobbyists and Legislators who like the status quo are also hard at work.

Commentaries, commercials, Congressional concessions, and common clichés do not negate the reality that whenever we invest in naturally replenished resources, environmentally friendly green energy, we ultimately provide jobs, as well as preserve the planet.  Research abounds.  studies confirm.  Pew Charitable Trusts asserts Clean Energy Economy Generates Significant Job Growth.

Nonetheless, the well-established Preamble persists.  We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”  Nations that did not accept our programs, sooner or later, were “willingly” brought into the fold. Money and might can move mountains, petroleum fields, and large quantities of botanical mass. Indeed, the production and use of any fossil fuel is encouraged.  Promised earnings offer a profound argument to dissenters.  

Some followers of the more modern Preamble, an altered petroleum policy, were brought onboard reluctantly. The bid for biofuels proved profitable.  Influential Advisors and Advertisers offered a rationalization. Plants can be grown.  Vegetation is renewable.  This thought removed a sense of guilt.  The public purchased the argument.  For most ethanol is envisioned as euphoria.

Some were less relieved by this opportune “reality.”  However, in time, they too do as the devotees do.  They drive hither and yon.  Petroleum and plants fill their gas tanks.  These persons call themselves environmentalists.  Yet, they know that they too, myself among them, consume gargantuan quantities of fossil fuels and biomass energy. To participate in present day life, we, the people, must pump petro and pledge allegiance to the American way, or else . . . For the sake of convenience, expediency, pragmatism and the Preamble, in a Twenty-First century culture, even conservationists surrender.  

Perchance, as gas and oil fill the Gulf Stream, and travel North, South, East and West, as microbes, mammals, and all other creatures in its path perish, we, the people, will think it is time to reflect.  Let us ponder our proud past.  Perhaps, through the plumes, we will unearth what the petroleum, coal, and biofuels Preamble has hidden, the history of hydrogen and how we abandoned this truly renewable and reliable source of energy.  

1920s German engineer, Rudolf Erren, converted the internal combustion engines of trucks, buses, and submarines to use hydrogen or hydrogen mixtures. British scientist and Marxist writer, J.B.S. Haldane, introduced the concept of renewable hydrogen in his paper Science and the Future by proposing that “there will be great power stations where during windy weather the surplus power will be used for the electrolytic decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen.”

1937 After ten successful trans-Atlantic flights from Germany to the United States, the Hindenburg, a dirigible inflated with hydrogen gas, crashed upon landing in Lake- wood, New Jersey. The mystery of the crash was solved in 1997. A study concluded that the explosion was not due to the hydrogen gas, but rather to a weather-related static electric discharge which ignited the airships’ silver-colored, canvas exterior covering…

1958 The United States formed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s space program currently uses the most liquid hydrogen worldwide, primarily for rocket propulsion and as a fuel for fuel cells.

It would seem that we, the people, could have endowed and empowered the energy that was first recognized before our forefathers penned what was the United States Constitution.  We might realize that great strides have been made in endlessly renewable hydrogen energy.  However, we, the people, never stopped to consider what we accepted as our manifest destiny.   What we defined as divine intervention or intervention by design was our chosen well-deserved deliverance.  As independent Americans, free spirits, mavericks, we would not be bound by physical boundaries.  Petroleum, coal, and biofuels, we decided, would set us free.  We would drive as if we were driven, deliberately.  

We did. Whilst barrels of oil flood from the ocean floor, we still do.  Nary a person proclaims; it is time to stop the madness, completely.  Hardly an American truly thinks he or she will reinstate the Preamble in its original form.  No, the “better life” has been fashioned. Yet, in Louisiana and elsewhere in the South there is reason to question what had been our truth. “We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”

Possibly, now we will acknowledge belatedly, the better question would have been why did we rely on reports released by the International Oil Spill Conference.,  This organization offers studies sponsored by those who are the worst offenders, who are most dependent on petroleum, and who gain greater power and prowess when oil flows. After the fact, will we abandon the Advisors who brought us our present burdens, our blunders, and our oddly converted Preamble?

Will humans resume operations and disregard reality?  Will we proceed on a false premise that biomass is the better source for fuel? Will we look beyond the boundaries of our desires or will humans, not BP, Exxon, the company of your choice, nay the Governments of, the United States, Britain, Nigeria, or . . . rape the land, place food in the mouths of machines rather than man?  Might we finally admit, that we need not concede to consumption, crave petroleum products, and biofuels?  Will we choose to see that people, and the planet, will not survive if we rely on what has been our folly, our friend, and our funeral march, our converted constitution, and a corrupted Preamble?   Only we can decide.  Fix it or Nix it?  Perhaps, we must do both.

Written with thanks to By Larry Hartweg Zero Energy Design® for a visual presentation that inspires and investigates, Transportation Without Petroleum or Biofuels

My Hair; His Energy Policy



Bush Oil Dancing!

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

“Drill baby, drill,” is the now ever-present and popular battle-cry for many Americans.  From Presidential candidates to everyday people, those who wish to consume sweet light crude as they have for a more than a century remind me of my hair, and the current President’s energy policy.  I ponder the parallels and invite you to consider . . .

During a recent press conference, as I gazed upon the President of the United States, noticeably aged after years in the Oval Office, I thought of my hair and my history.  His wavy gray locks are not as the strands that fall from my head.  Nor did the diminutive curl that danced on his brow remind me of my own tresses.  The style the Chief Executive donned did not resemble the permanent waves, pompadours, or ponytails I once wore.  As George W. Bush spoke of his energy policy, I pondered.  His approach to petroleum and power were as the methodology I embraced when I colored my hair.  

For years, I addressed the truth of my tresses just as the President assesses the paradox of propulsion.  In speech after speech, George W. Bush proposes, as he did on this occasion; America needs to end its addiction to oil.  In the past, I proclaimed, I need to bring to a halt the habit of dying my hair.  I, as President Bush, postured and yet, I did next to nothing to truly take me closer to my stated objective.

My progression towards a chemical free treatment of my hair was, as it seems Mister Bush’s advancement is.  I avoided more authentic change than I approached.  My evolution was perhaps slowed by love.  The tale of transformation began oh, so long ago.

Decades ago, I met a man who felt like family.  Indeed, emotionally Eugene was part of my intimate circle.  Gene did much with my Mom, Dad, brother, and I.  As a pair, Eugene and I often ventured off together.  We chatted on the telephone, spent time in each other’s home.  We were close.  This fine fellow was influential in many aspects of my life.  I respected his opinion.  I valued his friendship.  His wisdom often wowed me.  

Thus, when my good friend Gene, who was also my hairdresser, told me the tint would brighten my face, I thought he must have reason to think this sage advice.  At first, I protested.  As insecure as I was about my appearance, I was confident that my natural hair color was perfect.  Still, I considered the source.  Therefore, I trusted the recommendation.

Possibly, George W. Bush could share a similar story.  A loved one might have said, “Your future will be bright if you dabble in petroleum.  extraction”  “Build an oil well, my boy, and become a billionaire, or at least a multi-millionaire with substantial influence.”  “Taste the Texas Tea, and your life will be wondrous,” could have been the claim Papa George Herbert or Momma Barbara uttered.

“Oil,” family or friends may have opined, will improve the quality of the your existence.  Perchance George felt as I did.  He had no cause to distrust those he was close to.  Indeed, relatives of the heir apparent could avow, with knowledge, to refine sweet crude would put money in a person’s pocket.  Black gold had helped to grow profits for the Bush brood for generations.  As evidence, any of those related to George W. might have offered the family history.

Oil:. The Bushes’ ties to John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil go back 100 years, when Rockefeller made Buckeye Steel Castings wildly successful by convincing railroads that carried their oil to buy heavy equipment from Buckeye.  George H. Walker helped refurbish the Soviet oil industry in the 1920s, and Prescott Bush acquired experience in the international oil business as a 22-year director of Dresser Industries.  George H.W. Bush, in turn, worked for Dresser and ran his own offshore oil-drilling business, Zapata Offshore.

Frequently a boy child will follow a father’s path.  Fondness can fashion a future.  On land and in the seas sweet light crude secured the Bush family’s future.  Young George W. Bush looked at evidence.  His ancestral past, and his present circumstances even at an early age, helped establish a proven record.  Investments in petroleum equate to prosperity.  After a scant assessment, the youthful Bush likely decided, drill, drill, drill.  That would be the life for him.  Silver platters can be persuasive.  The opinions of friends and family can also be extremely influential.

Through our personal acquaintance, Gene taught me to trust him and to have faith in his beliefs.  Eugene had experience with hair dye.  He felt the practice was safe, sane, and offered a sensational opportunity to liven up a face and an existence.  Although initially hesitant, I concluded I would at least “try” what quickly became my habit.  However, what I did not realize was once you begin on a path, it is a challenge to change course.  Dark roots appeared in no time, as did my demand for more hair-dye.  

George too may have approached his novel exploration cautiously.  Many offspring resolve, they do not wish to be in the family business.  The son of the senior Bush might have thought to play at this prospect until he found something better.  However, George W. may have quickly discovered just as I did; it is easy to become hooked on a habit, newly acquired or tried and true.  

When a career choice yields great wealth and greater opportunity, it is difficult to resist the temptation to continue on a prosperous path.  Once the journey begins, an oilman such as George W. Bush realized, empty gas tanks require more fuel.  Electrical equipment must be charged.  The demand is endless.  The people, such as the Bush band, who earn income from the supply, are happy to serve.  Thus, the dissonance thrives.  

The provider of power or the person caught in a mad pursuit for peroxide journeys deeper into an endless downward spiral.  However, neither is aware of the consequences.  Gene might not have considered that his chosen career shaded his truth.  Nor did I ponder that a professional hair-styler has a singular perspective.

When first introduced to the idea of hair-dye,  I pondered; who was the person who presented the proposition.  However, I did not think of the veracity, or what later was so clear.  Eugene was trained to trust in toxic dyes.  When a person sees tinted hair all day, and into the evening, shades of stain on strands of hair seem sensible.  The individual that takes the time to apply the colors, surely must think the work wise.  

Perhaps, a young George W. Bush also concerned himself with the credibility of those who counseled him.  He too found reason to have faith.  The future President of the United States might not have pondered further.  He may not have investigated the possible hazards associated with oil production or petroleum use.  Often, when presented with a choice, we cannot imagine the infinite unknown possibilities, probabilities, or the perils.  

My friend not only shaded my hair; his beliefs tainted my own.  The hair on my head, and the thoughts in my gray matter were tinted.  The Bush family may have colored the consciousness of the youthful George and persuaded a future President to forget what he could have known.  Petroleum pollutes.  Refined crude contaminates the air and seas.  The fumes from Texas Tea in an engine cause temperatures on the terrain and in the troposphere to rise.

Granted, I understood how chemical treatments harmed my tresses and dulled the tint.  Aware of the damage done beneath the surface of a follicle, I persuaded myself it was slight and worth the sacrifice.  Possibly, the Bush family thought the same of their endeavors.  Certainly, George W. Bush still does.  He offers plans for renewable energy as he continues to pursue petroleum.  Ah, the dynamics of a decision are vast and deep.

Only now, as the globe warms, the climate changes, and the weather whips people and their property into oblivion, does Mister Bush face the true cost of his earlier decision.  Only recently did the  President recognize the harmful influence of fossil fuels on the environment.  Today, he finally acknowledges the immediate need for a commitment to cleaner energy.  Just as I slowly understood, the damage chemicals did to my hair, George W.  now touts his mindfulness.  There is a problem.  The planet is in peril.

As death and destruction beckon for attention, George sees as I did when I looked into the mirror.  Life, or the look, was out of balance.  The natural beauty was gone.  The breaks were bad.  Chemicals had stripped the surface . . . of the land or my locks.

However, while Mister Bush sees a need for transformation, it seems he is, as I was, reluctant to recognize the seriousness of the situation.  His does not act decisively to change what has become his [and our nations’] practice.  

President Bush advised Americans to ponder alterative renewable sources for power.  This country’s Commander touted; viable resolutions for our energy crisis are easily accessible.  “Biodiesel refineries can produce fuel from soybeans, and vegetable oils, and recycled cooking grease, from waste materials.”  The President proposed Americans could invest in clean energy.  Indeed, he exclaimed; we must go green.  However, for Mister Bush an emerald endeavor is black as oil or golden as bullion.  This oilman has reaped many a reward from America’s addiction, as have we all.  Convenience is but one benefit cheap energy bestows upon the United States public.  Profits have been more profound, more colorful for Chief Executive Bush.

Possibly, for the President charcoal is a fine hue.  “George,” if I might speak in the familiar, seems to think as I once did.  One shade can be substituted for another.  Only the more transparent tones cause George W. Bush much angst.  Who will or how might moguls who have invested lifetimes of worth, as this oil magnate has, harness, the sun, the wind, and water.  Mister Bush is unable to imagine a future so different from the life he and his family have long known.  Thus, he avoids the option he says he appreciates, just as I eschewed the thought of using no tint at all on my mane.  The untried did not ring true.

Attempts to transform what has been an American tradition are preferred by this President (and perhaps, the public.)  George W. Bush speaks of clean coal, as though there is such a substance.  Coal is a recognizable source of energy; yet, not a renewable or alternative choice.  Coal generates 54% of the electricity used in the United States. Whilst he ran for President, candidate Bush pledged that he would commit $2 billion over 10 years to advance clean coal technology.  Indeed, as promised, the National Energy Policy and budget requests to Congress demonstrated the President’s dedication to this cause.

Few fear what they do not wish to accept.  The Chief Executive favors an element that is essentially filthy.  The President might muse clean coal is the change.  Yet, he ignores that the hard black sedimentary rock is a health hazard to all it serves.  This “plentiful” element pollutes when it is mined, transported to the power plant, stored, and burned.  This combustible material destroys life throughout the global community.  Many species cannot survive as well as man believes he might when nature is out of balance.

Equilibrium is the gracious essence that helps us to thrive.  I too sought to sustain symmetry.  I pondered the many ways in which my mane might maintain its sheen and still be enhanced.  I hoped to find energy in color.  When confronted with the notion that a tint could damage my tresses, I also contemplated other options.  Clean dye; that was my criteria.

I assessed what I thought would be safe.  With a similar pious conviction, I concluded henna could perhaps be a practical possibility . . . that is if I wanted to enhance the natural hue of my hair.  At the time, this substitute seemed sensible to me.  I thought only of what I believed true, just as George W. Bush does today.  Plants are pure, plentiful, and will provide what I need . . . or want, perchance.

I had not authentically considered the possible predicament a product could cause.  At first blush, I was content with what seemed an ideal and equal opportunity.  Then, later, after I acknowledged my error, I was easily satisfied with what I trusted to be an indigenous replacement.

Now, cognizant of the connection between my hair and his history, I wonder; what concerns did George W. Bush weigh.  Did he study the consequences of his choices?  Did he hear or think to heed any of the cautions?  Might President Bush have ruminated on the probable ruin of the land and lives?  Could he have predicted what might happen if we raped the land to gratify our need for energy?  

One never knows what is in the heart or mind of another.  Nonetheless, as I reflect upon times gone by in my own life, I trust the President did not imagine, and perchance, still, he has no idea of what he reaped and sowed.  I surely did not.

For me, awareness arrived slowly.  As I processed my hair, I did not have the opportunity to notice the subtle changes.  I was too close to the situation.  I could not see what I did not wish to acknowledge.  I suspect George W. Bush [and Americans absorbed in what feels, oh, so fine] do not realize what harm unhealthy dependence causes.  

To dye or to die.  To drive vehicles powered with fossil fuels or to authentically preserve the planet, which is now in peril.  These might be the questions George and I avoided, or only addressed half-heartedly.

When I thought tinted hair was desirable, each alternative possibility required me to treat my hair with color.  Upon reflection, I realize I had not known to think of how the texture or tone of my mane might change if I ingested a more nutritious diet.  That is another story for another time.  Today, I wonder.  Was George open enough to evaluate horizons he had yet to explore?

As I gazed upon the President speaking of energy, I could not help but think of how Mister Bush said we must work to improve technology.  He confidently confirmed, we can wean ourselves away from fossil fuels.  In his own words the President espoused , “(A)t the same time” we must find “oil and gas here at home.”  The mantra is very familiar.  It was mine.  I believe this rationalization is reflected in the adage ‘You can have your cake and eat it too.’

Indeed, for a very long time, I indulged in similar silly logic.  As the blonde stain grew out, I said, I could refresh the look and limit my use of artificial satin all at the same time.  Oh, if only that was possible.  As long as dye is applied, the harmful effects of the treatment will not fade away.  The problem was, and is, whether we speak of fossil fuels or human hair, the more you invest in the unhealthy habits you claim to condemn the less likely it is that change will come.

Much to our detriment, individuals such as George and I are, and mankind is, comfortable with the familiar.  Humans are content to engage as they have for so long, regardless of whether a practice nourishes the body, soul, or the planet.

People may plan for or posit a change.  George W. Bush emphatically pronounced, “(N)ow is the time to get it done.”  He or I might suggest a slow move towards purity.  However, as my hair taught me, as long as I [or we] do as we have done, nothing will be different.  

As long as I stained my mane, there was more reason to stain my mane.  As long as America satisfies its addiction to oil, there is more reason to continue to gratify the love of gasoline.  When manufacturers build more machines reliant on petroleum, they encourage a greater dependence on fossil fuels.  An obsession for oil is as a mania for a colored mane.  Each, initially, captivates an individual and then controls the person.

Most of us learn to love what we later determine may be detrimental.  

George W. Bush, just as many Americans seem to be, is as I was.  The President is caught in a horrific, harmful, spiral, and yet comfortable with what he knows and does.  While the cost, to the environment, and to personal pocketbooks, may encourage a desire for change, convenience and expediency are enormously more persuasive.  Oh, how well, I know this to be true.  

I was once victim to a viability that made sense.  The President and the American people are caught up in the same conundrum.  If he, or we, fails to eliminate our physical and psychological, dependence on oil now there may not be a later.

To transform our reality we need to recognize the delicate dance for what it is.  Just as less dye was an unwise compromise for me, limited selective, additional drilling is a concession with consequences.  Partial progression will not alter our habituation.  It is time to stop!  To rethink, reinvent, to re-power our plants and public opinion is to truly care for our selves and for generations to come.

Resources or Reflections on Refinery . . .