The 100 Years Hoard

21 09 2009

Every morning, Roger and I turn News Channel 8 on the tv while we are getting ready. We can usually catch the weather, the major headlines for the day and some inane entertainment news by the time we’re all cleaned up, dressed up, and coffeed up (except for Azita, of course. She has at least one more year before she can start drinking that sweet, sweet elixir). It seems that the same 5 or 6 companies, special interest groups, etc. have a monopoly on advertising during that hour, because we see the same commercials over and over — the chimney sweep company, the window replacement company, Bob McDonnell for Governor (ick — not for me), and whoever is lobbying for using natural gas.

I actually find all of the above commercials annoying, but most of them I can ignore. All of them except for the natural gas commercial. The crux of the commercial is that a recent study shows that the U.S. has a large enough supply of natural gas to accommodate 100 years of our energy needs should we continue to use natural gas at the current rate, so we shouldn’t seek alternative sources of energy and switch to natural gas instead. Wow! 100 years of energy just sitting right there for us to use. Why aren’t we doing something about this? It’s amazing, right?

WRONG. For the sake of argument, let’s say that we actually do continue to use natural gas at the same rate we are currently using it. This of course ignores the fact that the U.S. gets about the same percentage of its energy from coal as it does from natural gas, so switching from coal to natural gas for some energy needs would obviously deplete the supply much faster than in 100 years.

My real issue with this commercial and everyone else who throws this statistic around is that really, what is 100 years? I’ve had members of my family live longer than that. To solve a problem for 100 years is really only solving that problem for 100 years, and that is incredibly short-sighted as far as I’m concerned. I’d like to think that I’m going to live a long time, but I’m probably not going to still be alive in 100 years. I’d like to think that Azita is going to live even longer, but even she may not be alive in 100 years (although I sincerely hope she is). But, what about Azita’s children or their children? I mean, heck, even if Azita doesn’t have any children, what about the rest of humanity?

In my opinion, this is what is “wrong with the world today.” Short-sightedness. Yes, here is something that could solve a problem for the span of my life, but my life is just a blip in history. The reason we have a crisis in the first place is because our parents and parent’s parents and so on did not think about the consequences of their actions. I’ve always liked to think that my generation was maybe more enlightened. After all, my classmates and I started both the environmental club AND the Amnesty International club in high school. That means something, right? Then again, my generation (and the ones that came after and before for that matter) believe that bigger is better when it comes to cars, tvs, and just about anything else that uses power.

I guess what I’m saying is that I hope that we can all think for a minute beyond the next 100 years and consider that small sacrifices today could make this world not just a better, but at the very least a liveable, place for those that follow us. It is the right thing to do after all.

Update: I kid you not, but this morning a new natural gas commercial was shown in addition to the one I’ve seen about a million times. This new one had the same talk track, but there was a written statement at the end that said something like “Using natural gas will make solar and wind power more possible.” Note that even though that statement is in quotes, it is quoted from memory and therefore in no way meant to be an exact quote. If that statement is indeed true, then I think I might change my opinion. However, they provided no substantiating proof for that statement, so the truth remains to be seen. I will be researching this though and probably commenting some more. And, my mind still hasn’t changed about short-sightedness being a problem of immense proportions in this great country.

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