Swickard: We are addicted to our addictions

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “We aren’t addicted to oil, but our cars are.” James Woolsey  
            While that sounds good, it’s wrong. Our cars are inanimate so they can’t be addicted to anything. It is we, ourselves, who are addicted to transportation. This is not a bad addiction like to drugs, speeding or ignoring railroad warning lights which can get you killed.
            The transportation industry is addicted to energy. Electric transportation is more addicted to coal than oil but all transportation other than sailboats are done with energy. They only work for us when the energy is abundant, dependable and cheap.
            Most people are unaware of how important energy is in our lives. But know this: without energy, there would be little available food or water and most people on Earth would die.
            We are so accustomed to having energy at our fingertips that we do not normally think about it. Flip the switch and the light comes on. Maybe some few people living out off the grid could survive for a while. The rest of us will perish without energy.
            There are more addictions in our society that we do not think of often. Driving much of our society is the entertainment industry. It is so pervasive that we, as a society, are ignoring great threats to our society because we are enmeshed in our entertainment society.
            Many people are more concerned about the fortunes of the Dallas Cowboys than the threat of a huge asteroid killing off life on our planet. Or global thermonuclear war. Or some disease with no cure extinguishing the human race.
            The social networks all run on devices that are operated using electricity. Many people are so addicted to these social connections that they will risk death while driving rather than put off looking at the device for a few minutes.
            Imagine the day that the electricity quits. Millions of people will stare at their dead cellphones in confusion. There’s no way to lodge a complaint without electricity. They will have to speak to real people around them instead of being in their own world online. How awful.
            My Great Grandfather came from Sweden to New York and then New Mexico at a snail’s pace. However, I could get on an airplane and be home in New Mexico in one day. Amazing.
            People are very concerned about whom is dancing with whom but not how redundant are the systems protecting our electrical grid. Or with the environmental push against coal and oil what we would do instead of coal and oil?
            The first thing we must do is admit our addictions and if they are good addictions make sure every effort is made to protect those energy resources. The point is that we should not look down our noses at those people who work in the oil patch.
            Especially just because they are covered in black gold and are a bit wiffy after working all week. We should thank our lucky stars that someone is making our addictions work.