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Sunday, March 30, 2008

What is a hydrocarbonaholic?

Having coined and trademarked the word, I’ll define it.

Hydrocarbonaholic [hidro-car-bin-uh-haw-lik]: –noun A person, or culture, addicted to the consumption of fossil fuels, e.g. oil, gasoline, coal, natural gas, etc.

Who is a hydrocarbonaholic? Well, I know I am. Hard to see how you aren’t one too. No offense. We can argue about whether or not a cigarette, a gin & tonic, or even a cuppa coffee is necessary to get you started in the morning.

No gas? You’re not starting your car.

And while I joke about working in datacomm in the 1980s by talking about coal-powered mainframes, given how we generate our electricity in the US, the internet really does run on coal.

Problem is, hydrocarbs are all around us all the time (like cigs, alcohol, and caffeine, but n’mind). And we really do need them to do pretty much anything.

Supply may be an issue in the near to mid-term future, depending on who you believe and what source you look at (lotsa coal; less oil ), but the bigger problem, as with any addiction, is that the pushers are trashing the neighborhood. They tend toward violence, and they dump their garbage in everybody’s yards—what pusher walks around with a candy wrapper in his pocket, looking for a garbage pail?

I won’t get into the “we invaded Iraq for the oil” argument—which is not to say that I don’t think there’s something to it. But we spend a chunk o’ money in the Persian Gulf to keep the goo coming, for ourselves and for the world economy overall.

More important, of course, is global climate change (knew that was coming, right?). If gasoline came out of my garden hose, free of charge, running my car would be a lot cheaper, but I would be melting Greenland a lot faster. I like Greenland. I also like the fact that Manhattan is one island—not two, bisected by the river that used to be 52nd Street.

We’re done with the “equal time” sham(e) where we get one of each: a talking head shilling for Big Oil who says “there are still questions” while a real scientist, representing the overwhelming global consensus of the scientific community says “not on the matter of whether or not CO2 from human activities is warming the atmosphere,” and then we cut to commercial (Zoom Zoom!!).

We. Have. A. Problem.

Me, I’m tired of muttering to myself about this, I’m looking for a virtual church basement where we can talk about what to do, Hydrocarbonaholics Anonymous. I already have a creed. And I like my mottos both inverted and hopeful:

We are NOT powerless before our addiction!

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