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Gas shortages in the aftermath of Sandy are yet another wake-up call that we need to figure out a way to live without a dependence on fossil fuels.

Let’s be clear, increased drilling for oil or gas has precisely nothing to do with energy independence. What it has to do with (other than a lot of political bloviating) is enabling an existing addiction and therefore increasing consumption of a limited resource. Supplying more of the thing that’s killing us is not a solution. A solution would be to provide a means of not needing that product anymore.

Think about what the word “renewable” means in “renewable energy sources.” It means that it’s an energy source that is not exhaustible. Solar power, wind power, or tidal energy do that and we have ways of capturing that energy so we can use less from energy sources that will eventually be depleted. If you haven’t come to terms with this yet, you need to snap out of it.

But renewable energy is only a small part of the real solution. The big answer, the true means toward energy independence, is setting up our towns and cities so that we don’t need to use so much energy in the first place. Sprawl development means driving long distances for nearly everything we do, and disenfranchised communities that have no means of getting good, healthy food. It means, increased disposable goods because people aren’t buying fresh food that they prepare at home. They’re buying fast food and pre-packaged food in plastic and Styrofoam that’s getting shipped and trucked in from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Sprawl is a downward spiral that establishes a way of life that requires the use of a diminishing fuel supply with no means of halting or veering from that course. It ensures the use of oil and gas, and all the drilling in the world will not be able to sustain that need. It’s not an opinion. It’s not some reactionary, activist idea. It’s just a fact. Fossil fuels are finite. There’s no grandstanding or bluster that can get around that.

If we truly want to be energy independent—to get out from under the thumb of corrupt and volatile foreign governments—then we need to free ourselves from the need for fossil fuels once and for all. Increasing the supply will result in increased consumption. That’s the way it works. To delude ourselves into thinking that we can dig ourselves enough of what we’re addicted to, will result in devastating consequences.

So, when you hear people say that we need to drill in order to help the country, they are either mistaken, in denial, or lying in order to enrich their personal short-term interests. Not only will it not help, it will send us on the road to ruin. It’s bad for the economy, it’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for national security, and it’s bad for the future well being of this country.

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