The Politics of Oil & Tomorrow


 |  Technology/Innovation

The Starfish

Photo by Campus Progress |

A rather dismal and defeatist action was carried out by President Barack Obama on May 14th when he announced a plan to intensify oil and gas drilling in the US. One is forced to understand the monumental political pressure on him given high gasoline prices and complaints from Republicans and business leaders about policies that are restricting the development of domestic energy resources. I, for one, am not surprised by the hazardous concession to his critics at a time when consumers are paying near-record prices at the gas pump. The Republican-led house passed three bills in the last 10 days that would significantly expand and accelerate oil development in the United States, saying the administration was driving up gas prices and preventing job creation with antidrilling policies. 

Yet strangely, in this world, it is not a move that was fundamentally unpredictable, as politicians around the western hemisphere have been complacent about for decades and pandered to their sources of foreign oil. Not only has it caused them much worry over geo-political uncertainties and all the other worries that are associated with the middle-east and its unpredictability, but it has also hampered the progress of alternative sources of energy that are not only good for our environment and ultimately us. But as fickle and petty is the reach of our political ambition and vision when it comes to the environment, so is the urgency with which we act upon it. And when matters come to breaking points where volatile spikes in oil-prices break all hell lose upon an already battered economy, indecisiveness strikes in the form of what happened with President Obama.


But even starting today isn’t too late, and instead focussing on controlling our destiny through innovation instead of relying so heavily on archaic sources of energy can surely go a long way. The market is a strong force in making that happen, but the market is also a social construct that can be manipulated for the betterment of the human race. Some would say we’re way past the point of doing something, but I still don’t think it’s too late to usher in a new energy plan, which highlights raising fuel economy standards, working with major car manufacturers to develop and enhance hybrid cars, and using tax incentives to promote alternative energy. It isn’t too late to stop listening to people who like to term oil-drilling as ‘exploring’. Exploring is what Magellan did and Columbus and Jacques Cousteau did. What we’re talking about is drilling – the only way you know if there’s oil there and which will forever damage the planet on which we live. 

What this bodes for Canada and the world? Only time will tell, but if you do desire to make a change in the status quo never stop participating in your community. As the mantra goes, think globally, act locally. That is precisely what we expect of each other whether it is in enhancing and lobbying for environmental policy or whether it is about making smaller changes at home.

Ultimately it all comes down to showing up, and decisions are made by those who show up.