Walking Away From Oil Dependence, One Day at a Time

tony_hayward_440_399x296.jpgBP’s Tony Hayward admits he has a problem with oil. (Photo: via BullsOil.com)

Today, even the CEO of BP used the words "environmental catastrophe" to characterize what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico.

Admitting you have a problem is, of course, the beginning of the road to recovery in the 12-step tradition of overcoming addiction. We’re happy that BP’s Tony Hayward has taken that first step — congrats, Tony!

But the magnitude of this particular catastrophe is paralyzing for many of the rest of us — including those who have known for a long time that our addiction to fossil fuels is an ongoing catastrophe. 

Streetsblog Network member blog Straight Outta Suburbia/Saliendo de las Afueras (our only bilingual blog) is determined to get beyond paralysis. Today, it has a list of actions that people and governments could take to reduce their own consumption of oil. Here are a few:

  • Write your city council person and demand that 5 percent of the parking spaces in your city be converted to bicycle racks.
  • Instead of driving to the gym, walk to the store.
  • Employers should not buy parking places for their employees. Instead, they should use the money they spend on parking to pay extra cash to employees. When other people pay for parking, people drive more.
  • Gasoline-powered leaf blowers, meet your eco-friendly replacement, the rake.
  • Pass a modest carbon tax and index it to inflation. This would give people an incentive to conserve while raising money to subsidize alternatives to gasoline-powered transportation.
  • Believe that you can. That’s the first step. Next time somebody says we need oil, tell them they’ve underestimated the power and determination of a growing group of disgruntled, passionate and pissed-off people!

Will actions like these fix the problem of dependence on oil? No. Are they naive and idealistic? Maybe. But can they be part of a paradigm shift that would lead to real, long-term solutions? Possibly, especially that part about the carbon tax.

One thing is for sure: Failing to do anything is what’s known in the addiction-recovery community as classic denial.

More from around the network: Greater Greater Washington reports a victory for transit — and social media. The Transport Politic discusses the importance of imagining a multimodal future. And WalkBikeJersey sadly notes that New Jersey drivers place last in a recent insurance industry survey that tested motorists on their knowledge of rules of the road. Not that people in the rest of the country did so great either.