Walking the Middle Ground as Oil Feeds Our Energy Needs

I had a great meeting yesterday with culture advisors to an American Embassy yesterday in a Middle East location. I won’t say where as the meeting was off the record, but the two were very much following environmental issues in the Middle East. One asked me as the editor of Green Prophet how us “environmentalists” and “treehuggers” reason for or accept the oil and gas industry. I’ve always said that life as we know it is thanks to the oil and gas industry. Cheap oil has made globetrotting and travel not only the domain of the rich and influential, but within the grasp of the middle and lower classes as well. Cheap fuel has helped create access to fresh food even in cold countries or where food can’t be grown. Cheap oil and gas has built the world to its current level of consciousness to knowing now that we have to step back a bit, scale back and think more responsibly about how we use finite resources like fossil fuels. I see the good in us humans being able to do that. I see the good in the problems of global warming in slowing humanity down before it gobbles up every resource on our planet.

I know it’s a knee-jerk reaction for environmentalists to be against the tar sands, to be against fracking, to be against the oil and gas industry, just like it is reasonable for animal rights activists to be against animal testing in medicine. There are certain “evils” or moral risks we take in this world to help bring us to the next problem in need of solving.  One day there won’t be animals in a biopharma lab, but algorithms doing the dirty work. I am sure of that. But meanwhile if a cancer medicine needs to be tested on an animal to make sure that my dad with prostate cancer stays well, I will opt for the animal’s suffering over my dad. Is that selfish or immoral?

I would never want to go back to the pre-oil, pre-industrial age, but look to and applaud people, researchers, and companies that are trying to make dirty and polluting industries better, like this company Flow Industries making fracking greener – which is making fracking greener at least in theory. Should we therefor discount companies like Shell, now exploring oil in the Arctic, for being a big evil, or laud them for feeding our greedy energy needs, while still trying to make their business a bit greener? Watch the video above. You decide.

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