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Oakes’ view:

Drill and be damned, or don’t drill and be damned-er

July 24, 2008|By Lauren Oakes

I’m in the same boat as the rest of America. I’m fairly smart, read newspapers, magazines, blogs and listen to radio talk show hosts, although these are generally more entertainment, and just as extreme as newspapers. So I’m just about as informed as, again, the rest of us.

I support drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), off-shore, and (almost) anywhere else we have oil, for a lot of reasons I’ll try to explain, in hopes you’ll read this and actually think about it rather than just fast-forwarding to mad, or mindlessly applauding.

I propose we can believe neither the left nor the right, and this includes their hired guns; experts-left who predict unprecedented human-caused global warming and its attendant disasters, as well as experts-right saying we are entering a new ice age and the unprecedented size of the human population has absolutely no effect on global weather.

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Obviously, huge populations of anything change their environment and its ecology, and that can change the weather (look at the Great Plains grasslands after the eradication of bison, the practice of plow-farming and the resultant Dust Bowl years) so I’m sure we have an effect on global weather. But our own examination of historical weather shows big swings in temperature throughout the past, evidenced by human records and nature’s as well, ie., tree-rings and ice core samples.

It’s unlikely we have figured this all out in the relatively short time we’ve been looking into it. I don’t say “studying” it because there is too much partisanship involved to call it that.

We are not going to get to a totally, or even largely, non-fossil fuel situation immediately, whether it’s 10 years or 50 years, we have to get through here to get to there. In the meantime we need energy.

The smart and practical thing to do is to whip the horses toward alternatives with tax subsidies, prizes, enterprise-zone-type rewards, looking around at what’s already working well elsewhere, and drill where we already know there’s oil easy-for-the-getting, there’s already a pipeline running at only half-capacity (which has not done dire damage to the ecosystem), and where the locals want us to drill.

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