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Culture Change e-Letter #7

Ending U.S. Oil Tyranny

by Jan Lundberg

People want peace, but they will not get it if they first do not define it.  If they don't define it, the best they can get is a false peace that means the war on the planet continues, and oppressive economic models will hold sway which will prompt future wars.

Real peace in a petroleum-fueled world means rejecting petroleum dependence in all possible ways.  For example, if you drive to work five days a week, but you move nearby your job (or start working in your own community), this could slash oil/gasoline use by 95% for your household.  This is a different approach than buying a more fuel-efficient auto, thereby cutting back oil use by maybe 10%.  Other strong measures can slash petroleum consumption, such as obtaining local goods only, and growing your own food. 

It could be said that there are two kinds of people involved in the world: those who want peace, and those who want piece.  The "piece" that people strive for is a "piece of the pie," often meaning a greater and greater piece of a limited pie at a time of population growth.  People taking their unfairly large piece want primarily money and security, but what they are doing (in ignorance oftentimes) is taking "their" piece of the Earth

Nature is thus rendered despoiled, for profit, mostly by corporations.  Corporations mimic the consumer known as the human being.  Today's modern, "evolved," educated, hard-working people mimic rapacious corporations, mostly unwittingly. 

To participate in technological processes is part of the war on nature, whether at corporations' working environments or within consumers' techno culture.  The latter is a world of "enjoying" major appliances, use of which helps warm the global climate.  Petrochemicals (from oil and natural gas) are feeding us and poisoning us.  Petroleum-fueled instant transport distorts our time and space.  The costs to us all, including most other species, is incalculable.

The global climate may already be irreparable for our evolutionary niche in time.  Our evolutionary niche could be viewed as 100,000 years instead of 500,000 years or millions more years.  Is extinction in store for us  soon?  We hope not, but we ignore how many species are going extinct.  We think WE decide what goes extinct, and although we have noted our powerfool role, there may be some, uhh, unintended results.  Big brains make big mistakes:

We clever Americans are driving almost three trillion miles a year, in pursuit of a piece of the pie.  But the pie that people are going after is an arsenic pie, figuratively speaking.  The health costs of "safely" participating as customers of automobile corporations is a bit high, considering the medical effect of driving while of course sitting on one's behind.  The sedentary lifestyle produces a cost in bad arteries and cardiac deaths almost as high as crashes: a projected $147 billion annual bill for this year, compared to roughly $160 billion for crashes. (David Cundiff, MD, author of The Right Medicine).  

A Harvard Medical School study published in 1999 said the nation has " costs of inactivity and obesity (that) account for some 9.4% of the national health care expenditures in the United States. Inactivity, with its wide range of health consequences, represents a major avoidable contribution to the costs of illness in the United States and other countries with modern lifestyles that have replaced physical labor with sedentary occupations and motorized transportation."  

Then there are the human costs of car-associated pollution that society's victims breathe, and of the after-effects of bloody crashes on the roads of oil (asphalt is a petroleum product).  The American Lung Association put direct health costs of pollution at $50 billion a year in 1994.  As to indirect costs of crashes, one can add to Cundiff's $160 billion the pain and suffering attributed to car crashes, which is another $140 billion a year.  Is all this acceptable because we enjoy those 3 trillion miles driven?  Not to anyone wanting to spend time walking in the woods or on the beach, or who values his or her health, or who is concerned about those the U.S. kills for oil.  

Could it really be that a government/business clique would go to war for the main purpose of just staying in power?  Seems like it.  Granted, one should be concerned about the Axis of Evil (whoever that is) and Saddam Hussein.  But Saddam would not be powerful or a threat if we didn't prop up the value of his oil.  We do so with our Axles of Evil, SUVs!  Major conservation of oil would transform our lives favorably, and go a long way to saving the planet.  This is rejected by the Bush/Cheney/Blair/Saddam type of character flexing his muscles.  

Mista Bigstuff - who do ya think ya are
(Motown soul hit, circa 1970)

In this time of tyranny by oil interests in and out of the White House, we have the twin threat of nuclear waste and weapons—our special gift to the next subspecies of homo sapiens.  The nuclear tyranny will have to go, along with oil tyranny, but can only happen if citizens take responsibility; re-electing Gore won't suffice.  

To be realistic about tyranny: With today's huge overpopulation, we cannot have real freedom.  We instead have a compromise that only gets more compromised as the numbers of "rats in the cage" go up and the size of the cage remains constant—i.e., the ecosystem is finite.  Deviant behavior intensifies and becomes the norm—such behavior started civilization, and the rest is history.  Other planets are not the answer, and oil from fossil dinosaurs would not be there anyway.  And what we have today for infrastructure—which some will be attempting to maintain even in the quest for a renewable-energy consumer economy—is all about finite, dwindling petroleum.  

We need to safeguard the Earth as our Eden, and take steps to sharply limit our destructive population size.  "Solar panels" and the like won't solve the ecological crisis, nor will they save all us rats in our cage.

Here's how pervasive is society's state of denial: The environmental movement does not present an alternative to war over oil, because there's a problem with the well known environmental groups: in embracing a technofix approach, they have abandoned conservation as the main tool.  They would reject this charge, saying they want improved fuel economy.  That can help some, but it is high time for car-free living—although that tool is the best way not to get major funding from the foundations tied to the stock market.  

There are environmentalists of the grassroots working on transportation, forest defense, etc., and natural sciences-oriented folk saving habitat and sounding the alarm on climate change, etc.  Then there are environmentalists who are primarily funded to work on those issues and more.  It is the funded environmental movement that has the far bigger voice in the corporate media, in academia, and government.  Funding for the environment depends on the business-as-usual war on nature by American business. 

Fight Imperoilism at home
Resistance is mounting to war on Iraq and on any other nation the Petroleum Presidency would choose.  It's time for you and me to spread resistance.

Although war for oil is not new, the U.S.'s sole-superpower status and ever-more powerful weaponry make for an unprecedented threat to the whole world.  But, destruction is George Bush's stock and trade, as he follows policy more or less the same as his father's and Bill Clinton's.  One and a half million dead Iraqis in the last 12 years are just a chessboard move to our leaders, which is why the 9-11 collateral damage was inevitable on U.S. soil.  Another reason for 9-11: the U.S.'s 120 billion + gallons a year of gasoline consumption, and U.S. refusal to cut back on such waste that warps economics around the world.

As true as it is that bombing Afghanistan and replacing the Taliban was an oil industry plan before Sept. 11, 2001, more war is useful to U.S. imperoilism.  Let us reject war over oil along with economic activity involving burning oil.  That crime against life, for mega profits, should make us ask ourselves if U.S. overconsumers aren't pigs hogging the global trough.  But that unfairly discredits porcine creatures when we remember those 3 trillion obesity-generating miles, and the laziness the average person has toward cutting back on sending packaging made of petroleum and trees to our toxic landfills.

Steven C. Rockefeller, part of the famous oil family, wrote that "Finding our way to a truly sustainable way of living together is our hope for the future." (Orion magazine, winter 2002 issue, in Rockefeller's article on The Earth Charter, "Building a Culture of Peace"  We can "all get along," Rodney King, if there aren't too many of us, and we share the Earth with respect.


October 11,  2002  Copyright in U.S. by Jan Lundberg

For our No War for Oil webpage, see

"Spare Iraq and the atmosphere, avoid oil shock" - Culture Change Letter #3

For a ten-step program for sustainable living and growing food, visit the Culture Change website's page on climate protection, at:

Jan Lundberg's columns are protected by copyright; however, non-commercial use of the material is permitted as long as full attribution is given with a link to this website, and he is informed of the re-publishing:


Articles of interest:
Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results.  WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.

Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California . Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)



Culture Change/Sustainable Energy Institute mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change (Trademarked) is published by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) California non-stock corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.