The oily truth

Yesterday when I posted the video, I realized it had been a full week since I’d put anything new up. I had no intention of going that long between posts — so sorry!  I have managed to get a few things done around the house, but the “to do” list continues to be daunting. I so much wish that I could work from home — or even that I had a shorter commute. If I drive, it’s an hour each way. If I take the train. it’s about an hour and a half each way. That makes it a 12-hour day that begins at 5 a.m. Ugh is right.  When I took a day off from work recently, I snapped the following picture with my cell phone:

water lillies

It’s not the best picture of  our pond, but it’s a moment in time that I miss when I’m sitting in my office so far away.  And the irony is that when I do get to work, there are many days when I am conducting online training and spend the majority of my time with my office door shut, doing my work via web conference.

This situation is particularly irksome given the bigger picture, which is our dependence on fossil fuels to keep this kind of mentality going. Working for a large university, you might think that we’d have a more forward-thinking policy on telecommuting. You’d be wrong. Because my university is so large, it suffers from the same bureaucratic entropy. Supposedly the university has a policy accommodating telecommuting, “at the supervisor’s discretion.” So, as any good lawyer knows, a loophole makes all the difference. The university can go around saying we are a “sustainable work place,” and throw around those important phrases such as “telecommuting” while still not actually doing it! Because all the supervisors have to say is, “Um, no.”

The man-made disaster in the Gulf will have negative impacts on our world for generations to come. And although we are all stunned by the enormity of this oil spill, it really should come as a surprise to anyone who drives a car, heats their house, turns on lights, watches tv — all powered by fossil fuels like the oil from deep below the serene ocean waves. We’ve all known deep down that this is not a way of life that could continue into eternity, but as long as we don’t run out of fuel in my lifetime, well ….

I place the blame for this oil spill on — yes, of course BP. But equally so on the shoulders of our national leaders who have not implemented an energy policy that would have us as a nation using safe and sustainable fuel supplies. I hear over and over again how solar and wind technologies are “not economically feasible” for large-scale energy supplies.  Yet I look at the pocket calculator on my desk, the digital camera, the myriad other technologies that just a few decades ago were only in the hands of a few elite scientists. Yet, when there’s money to be made, suddenly the technology is economically feasible.

So now President Obama is touting solar energy. Well, hello. He said he would in his campaign, yet he did nothing until this disaster. So I expect no more honest energy leadership from this Administration than we’ve had from any others.

We are a nation of people who want what’s “ours.” Immigrants have come here since day one because it has seemed to be place where anything is possible. The idea that in this place we might have to {shudder} cut back on anything or change our lifestyles is not something that we as a people will readily accept. We need a real leader to take charge and say what needs to be said, not what Rahm Emanuel or any other advisor thinks will ensure a re-election.


  1. Sue, I couldn’t agree more. Americans as a whole are not willing to sacrifice, and businesses are not willing to try something new to try to cut back on gas/oil consumption.

    Why don’t more businesses have 4-day weeks (as it is people work 10 hours a day most of the time anyway but if they knew they only had 4 days to get their work done and would get an extra day off as a result, I can bet those 10 hours would be more productive and the same amount of work would get done.

    Secondly, as you point out, most businesses of any kind are not really amenable to changing the status quo when it comes to “face time.” With today’s technology there is no reason we should have to go into offices 5 days a week, especially with the burgeoning traffic in all of our metro areas. It is just inefficient. One to two hours’ commuting a day could be used more productively working at home. I have to hand it to IBM, last I heard something like 40% of their workforce now works out of their homes either all or most of the time.

    And last, sadly, I agree, the Obama administration has not done what it takes to make any real sea changes in this situation. The situation in the Gulf is so heartrending that last night I couldn’t sleep for thinking about it…woke up in the middle of the night worrying about my mother, who is in the hospital and very ill, and alternating with the Gulf oil spill. I don’t know which made me more upset.

  2. Obama needs to knock off the Mr. Spock routine and publicly get as pissed off as the rest of us. It won’t plug the leak any faster, but at least he’ll give the appearance of being on the same page as us.
    I wish Lyndon Johnson was in office right now. He would have plugged that leak with that bumbling idiot BP president and his yammering minions.

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