Saturday, June 23, 2007

Crawling in Denial

The energy bill passed the Senate yesterday, after a compromise on vehicle fuel efficiency (after 2020, the efficiency doesn’t have to increase above 35 miles per gallon). There were several key provisions stripped from the bill, among them a requirement that 15 percent of electricity be generated from renewable sources. Disappointingly, a provision raising ethanol production by 700 percent was left in. The House has yet to present their version of the bill, but it will likely look very similar. The bottom line for me is that our government doesn’t yet grasp that we are facing a monumental crisis; we need to be preparing for a marathon, and we’re restricting ourselves to crawling.

My wife and I saw the new movie “Evan Almighty” last night, which is a comical update to the Old Testament story of Noah and the flood, with a strong environmental message. I couldn’t help but think of people who believe a modern day equivalent of the great flood is about to strike, in the form of peak oil and global warming, and are resigned to building their own equivalents of an ark (sustainable communities far from other people) so that some part of civilization might survive. Like Hurricane Katrina and the attacks of 9/11, we have ample warning, but just as the Bush administration did for those emergencies (and the current ones) most of us are choosing to live in denial until it is too late.

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