In 1859, on a small piece of land in the foot hills of western Pennsylvania, farm country where my great-grandfather Christopher Columbus Kean was just laying the foundations for our family farm, a local businessman named Edwin L. Drake discovered oil.
The rest is history.
Have you ever tried to make the perfect poached egg? It’s not easy. It’s not impossible but it requires practice. The spinning of the water has to be finessed so as to pull the raw egg into the gentle vortex, blending the vinegar and water without collapsing the egg’s amorphous, but firming, structure.
Seems like a lot of bother, right? Frying an egg is just so much easier. Break the egg directly over the warming oil in the pan, salt and pepper to taste and voila, in minutes ready to eat.
It is precisely the poaching process, however, which reminds of America’s refusal to transition from the consumption of fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. The transition is not as hard as lobbyists make it out to be, really. It will just require a bit more finesse, patience and, most importantly, the desire to do so.
The extraction of fossil fuels, compared to the “capturing” of alternative energy, is a much more straightforward process; and it is one that has been woven into the fabric of our nation’s lore. A lot of people will be offended by the sentiment that your work and the work of your grand-daddy did is killing us, man. Knock it off! But, this is exactly what we need to convey to people so that the get it. Somehow we need to get people to realize that a poached egg is potentially even healthier — if that means anything anymore in a Covid-saturated, Trumpian dystopia.
The fried egg is so good thanks to its glorious simplicity. But let’s consider, however, that most eggs being eaten on a daily basis have been prepared on Teflon. Teflon, as many of us know, is made of a very nasty and quite deadly man-made chemical. If one drop of the main component that gives Teflon its wonderful non-stick properties was added to an Olympic-sized swimming pool and consumed, the effects would be very harmful to the average human. Teflon frying pans are everywhere and really we can’t avoid them; but most people, if they knew all that Du Pont didn’t want us to know about the dangers of this chemical, would switch to non-Teflon pans.
The poached egg can be twirled and prepared in a friendly pan of water.
Who wants to bring water to a boil and with vinegar and salt first thing in the morning, though? Let’s leave the poaching to restaurants and the frying to everyone else. This is how many Americans feel about the notion of switching to alternative energies — let someone else do it, I just want to turn on my lights, fill up my car and go. Okay, for now let’s agree.
Let’s make all of businesses and manufacturers lead the way into the alternative economy. Switching over to the consumption of alternative energy will require an initial investment by industries that today will lower definitely profits. The lowered profits will cut into bonuses. Stock prices will drop a bit. At first some wealth by the very wealthy will be lost for good because by the time the switching costs are recouped, many of those who “suffered” from this “opportunity cost” might already have passed on from life; or, they will be too old to enjoy the recouped wealth.
Really rich people tend to be quite greedy, when push comes to shove. The accumulation of wealth is an obsession with numbers. Why should I give up some of my numbers if he doesn’t? Numbers are power. This is why corporations cannot be expected to be self-regulating; why markets are not self-correcting and this is why government is needed.
Passing the Cost onto the Consumer
This is how “they” effectively make it unpopular in the eyes of working and middle-class Americans. Using a broad stroke, they conceal the benefits that society will gain over time by saying that if you are forced to switch over to poached eggs, they won’t be as tasty and they will cost more — is this what you call freedom? We call this oppression — remember the light bulb hulla beloow?
The only reason “they” say this is to make sure their beloved numbers don’t get touched. It is a very shabby logic, however, when you think about it. Switching over to an economy built on alternative and renewable energy is one that radically becomes more technically advanced. An entire infrastructure has to be facilitated for taking the accumulated energy from a storage unit and guiding into our homes, cars, offices, etc. Jobs will be created and most likely they will be offered higher and more sustainable wages.
As the effects of climate change recede, the money saved from not having to pay for storm clean-up — in 2019 it is nearly $50 billion dollars with still one month to go in there year — can be redirected for improvements in America’s aging infrastructure.
Strategies designed by very wealthy corporations and then echoed by, News Corp which owns Fox News for example, weave messages into the American psyche if we are forced switch over then everything in your life will get more expensive and jobs will be cut — you may end up unemployed, people. Is this the American way?
As if the “American way” meant that everything we purchase has to be a bargain-basement price. Let’s try increasing wages to the level where a head of household can take care of his family first and then let him decide whether he wants to buy a fan made in China that costs only $4.99. Maybe, he would be wiling to pay $7.99 is he had good and free health care.
For forty years, however, “they” have been telling us that this whole changing climate thing is normal. Another once in a hundred million years cycle of climate change and so who are we, lowly humankind, to challenge God’s will? The will of nature? But isn’t the rebuilding of beaches to stave off the destruction of the tide also altering nature’s power? That, however, is considered a wise investment because it benefits the number’s people, the rich — and, after all, isn’t this whole big thing we call an economy all for them?
Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela
If we look at the countries which revolve their economies around the extraction and sale of fossil fuels, we will be hard-pressed to find a liberal democracy. In Norway, 18% of the GDP comes from oil revenues. Norway also has a quite diverse economy and are very liberal. Norway offers its citizens excellent and free health care and almost no crime.
Russia is an authoritarian state and 30% of GDP comes from oil and gas. 70% of Russians, if not more, are employed directly or indirectly by the state. Saudi Arabia, 42% of GDP and Venezuela, 25% of GDP. The contribution to GDP in the US is 8% and growing. There is also said only to be a 50-year reserve of natural gas left in the US. This is a dead-end which will also destroy our climate.
Nation’s which protect the extraction of fossil fuels tend to be more politically conservative and less democratic. The current president has spent the past three weeks since losing re-election refusing to recognize his defeat; claiming widely-disproved voter fraud and fomenting rebellion. His position on fossil fuel is as clear as his mockery of climate change.
Knowing what we know today about the detrimental effects of fossil fuels on our earth’s climate, I sometimes daydream about how my great-grandpa might hopped onto his horse, streaking through the forest in the Titusville area. Coming over the ridge, he spies Drake out there hammering and shoveling away. Approaching him, he offers his neighbor a big jug of apple brandy.
Together, they get really drunk and by accident burn down the wooden pump that Drake used for drilling down into the earth. Hung over, they shake hands and Edwin Drake scratches his head and rides off back to Pittsburgh, riding past the spot that would become Oil City, and America comes up with some other energy source never realizing that fossil fuels were under us.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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