Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
By Bill McKibben
Do we have a hope of getting off oil, or is all the handwringing about the Gulf just ritualized politics that will fade away until the next inevitable catastrophe?
That’s a tough question. Oil, coal, and natural gas lie at the absolute center of the developed world’s economy. Our nation looks the way it looks because we’ve had access to cheap oil for more than a century: hence highways, roads, commutes, Wal-Marts, long-distance food. Hence the assumptions of our daily lives, most of which commence with the twist of a key in an ignition. Changing this in any large way will be tough.
Tough, but not impossible.
... We should think about a few things we can do right away....
Every day it gets clearer that we can figure out relatively cheap, relatively plausible ways to tackle the biggest job humans have ever undertaken. What’s lacking is not the method; what’s lacking is the political will.
Summoning that political will is perhaps the most important question raised by the Gulf spill.
Will we waste our outrage solely on venting at BP?
Or will we use it to really get to work?
This is an excerpt from Bill McKibben's article in the latest issue of The Progressive. To read the article in its entirety, and to read the rest of the special issue The Big Spill online, and to subscribe to The Progressive for a year—all for just $14.97—simply click here.