Don’t Be Crude: End Our Oil Addiction

Note: This post is part of a series of blog entries by members of After the Spill, a faith-based group formed in response to the April 2010 Gulf oil spill.

By Dan Misleh
Executive Director, Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
(Excerpted from a piece originally posted on U.S. Catholic: A Conversation with American Catholics)

It’s time to get the petroleum monkey off our backs.

Hello, my name is Dan, and I’m addicted to oil.

I recently looked around me to catalog all the things made from oil…The plastics list is endless.

…As we near the first anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil spill, I hope we can all acknowledge our addiction and—for the sake of the planet and the unpleasant fact that we will eventually run out of fossil fuels—seek help to get clean and sober.

…Fossil fuels are indeed a blessing and have been the contributing factor to the economic advancement of modern society, which is marked by the ability for so many of us to pursue our passions in work and leisure.

…But having traveled to some desperately poor countries, I also know that we are the few and the privileged. Most of the rest of the world has little if any access to fossil fuel energy.

…It’s not just the poor far away who suffer because of our addiction. As we’ve learned from the disastrous rig explosion and oil spill in April 2010, our dependence on fossil fuels has consequences that reach far beyond tainted water, oily seashores, and dead animals. Accidents happen—whether through negligence or riskier operations needed to reach harder-to-access resources—and people die.

The economic, psychological, and social costs of the spill on the residents of the Gulf are hard to fathom. Through the end of January, Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of New Orleans provided emergency assistance to more than 35,000 people, distributed nearly $2 million in food vouchers from community grocery stores to affected families, and provided counseling for almost 13,000 people.

…If we think of our fossil fuel consumption as an addiction, we might be able to draw lessons from 12-step programs. Granted, we can’t simply stop consuming fossil fuels without bringing our economy to a screeching and devastating halt. But can we begin at least to wean ourselves off these fuels through a tough self-examination or a “moral inventory” that mirrors the 12-step program?

…Among the 12 steps, we might consider: admitting our powerlessness over the addiction; seeking help through prayer and meditation to overcome this weakness; turning our lives over to God and being open to God’s will for our lives; looking soberly at how our addiction hurts others; reaching out to other addicts and helping them through their own struggles.

…Finally, it’s important to remember that we are not alone. Thousands of individuals, families, and parishes have taken the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor at These individual practices can be carried over to workplaces, schools, and church.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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