30 June 2006
"We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we will save our planet"
Al Gore, interviewed here by Will Dana in Rolling Stone:
Q: Do you believe, as some predict, that we are going to run out of oil within fifty years?
A: It's a sophisticated debate between the geologists on one side and the economists on the other. But the debate over oil reserves misses the point. We have more than enough oil, not to mention coal, to completely destroy the habitability of the planet. The real constraint on oil and coal is not supply, but global warming. There's a saying: "The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones. And the Age of Fossil Fuels won't end because we run out of fossil fuels."
The fact that oil is beginning to get more expensive more quickly will contribute to the realization of how dysfunctional our current pattern is. Take the tar sands of western Canada. For every barrel of oil they extract there, they have to use enough natural gas to heat a family's home for four days. And they have to tear up four tons of landscape, all for one barrel of oil. It is truly nuts. But you know, junkies find veins in their toes. It seems reasonable, to them, because they've lost sight of the rest of their lives.
As Lincoln said in the darkest days of America's darkest passage: "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." Our biggest challenge, our biggest foe, is thrall. The word sounds ancient, but it means anything that imprisons our thinking and prevents us from seeing the reality of our situation. We're in thrall to oil. We've got to break out of it. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we will save our planet.