Thursday, July 8, 2010

Addicted to oil

Knowledge is an uncomfortable companion . . . or at least, it can be.
Do you find, as I do, that once your eyes have been opened to some fact, some truth, it is almost impossible to return to your former state of happy ignorance?

It was like that thirty years ago when I became a vegetarian. Every year I'd taken pleasure in watching the lambs frolicking in the fields. Then one spring morning, for no known reason, I found myself linking the lamb I was watching to the lamb chops that regularly appeared on my plate. There was no going back. Up until then I'd been a happy meat-eater, well able to keep the two topics
segregated . . . once brought together the only option was to become a vegetarian.

I blame Lynne McTaggart for a new, inescapable item of uncomfortable truth. Since listening to her memorable contribution to an online discussion on the oil spill in The Gulf of Mexico my eyes have been opened. Despite my best efforts to ignore it, all I can see is a vast expanse of oil.

Tell me, do you think, as I once did, that oil is basically the fuel that powers our cars, our planes and our heating systems? Think again! Over the past hundred years oil has seeped into practically everything. It is not only in our engines, but also our living-rooms, our bath-rooms, and in almost every commodity we possess - and I'm not just referring to the ubiquitous plastic-bag. How is it that, without realising it, we've allowed ourselves to become so totally dependent on oil?

I'm typing to you on an oil-based keyboard, looking at an oil-based computer screen. Before sitting down to write I had my breakfast, boiling the water in an oil-based kettle, making toast in an oil-based toaster, not forgetting to take my daily vitamin capsule in its oil-based coating.

Nor is Chloe blameless. She squats on an oil-based litter-tray, eats from oil-based bowls, and her favourite, oil-based toy even looks a little like an oil-well!

Do I escape this oily environment when I leave home? Far from it! I shall shortly be going down to the car which not only drinks oil, but has a large percentage of oil in its structure. I shall drive along roads coated with oil-based tarmac, passing shops and houses bright with oil-based paint, and only when I reach the woods, where I plan to take Chloe for a walk, will I be free of this oily surfeit.

As a repentant gas-guzzler, I am as guilty as anyone else on the planet.
So . . . away with the plastic bags . . . and in with the shopping basket.
Out with the selotape . . . and in with the string.
Out with . . . no! I can't do it!
I can't be expected to scrap this computer . . . my camera . . . my fridge?

Is there, I wonder, an 'Oil Addicts Anonymous'?
If not, let's form a branch. We're going to need all the support we can get!