Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's time to wash the oil off our hands

President Obama didn't say it in his speech last night, but he should have:

We all have oil on our hands.

All of us who drive vehicles, fly on airplanes, use petroleum-based produces are responsible for the catastrophic oil leak and spread in the Gulf of Mexico, and the consequent environmental and economic damage, because we're all dependent on seemingly unlimited and relatively cheap oil.

Because we're responsible for the devastation of the gulf, if only indirectly, we're also responsible for the prevention of future disasters. We must become more faithful in our stewardship of creation and insist upon greater supervision of and, where warranted, punishment of corporations that act so cavalierly with respect to our environment.

Not all damage can be contained or repaired. Once an oil-feathered pelican dies, it stays dead.

We also must take other action, including: supporting a gas tax, the revenue from which will help fund research into and development of alternative, clean forms of energy; reducing our driving, hopping on bicycles instead of into the front seats of our cars to run those errands; and trading in our monster SUVs for energy-efficient vehicles. Both Penny and I enjoy our hybrid cars, especially the savings on gas and the satisfaction of knowing we're doing a small part to care for creation.

And we must pressure our elected officials, urging them to shift funds from road and highway repair, improvement, and expansion to the laying of light rails for trains (Kansas City, I'm told, is doing just this; St. Louis already has.); expanding bus service, including to outlying areas, and building more bike lanes and trails.

No, the president didn't say it in his 18-minute address to the nation last night, but he should have said it:

We all have oil on our hands, and it's time we wash it off by acting in new, bold ,and even sacrificial ways for the preservation of God's gift of creation.

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