Whale oil. 

That’s what we (humans) used to use to light our world and clean our bodies. Whale oil was pretty much the only fuel source for lamps as well as making soap. 

But we sorta knew that it wasn’t sustainable. I mean, it’s basic math. If you kill all the whales, then you don’t have anymore whales. And whales fueled society. It was a conundrum. 

But what do you do? Do you freeze in the winter? Do you not wash or bathe? Do you live darkness?

But then something really interesting happened…The Industrial Revolution. 

Instead of society going backwards and back to simply burning wood for light and heat and making soap out of cow and pig fat, it propelled into something nobody could’ve predicted. And it found a new fuel source: petroleum. 

Soon (and I mean really soon) humans found a million new things they could make with this new fuel source. Okay, maybe not a million. But a whole heck of a lot. 

People often think gasoline is the main (or only) thing made from oil. And we love to berate ourselves for being “addicted to oil” (a phrase I’ve always hated, even when it was uttered by George W. Bush). 

Well guess what? You’re damn right we’re addicted to oil. Because we’re living in a modern world, with modern conveniences we are simply NOT going to go back from. Nor should we. 

Petroleum is used to make everything from plastic to pillows; dice to drinking cups. If you like that new dress you just tired on, it may surprise you to find that there’s probably a petroleum product in it somewhere. 

And that medication you literally can’t live without? There’s almost certainly a petroleum solvent or compound in it. 

The screen you’re reading this on, at this very moment, has a petroleum agent in it somewhere. 

Simply put, we cannot fully live in the 21st century without petroleum. 

And yet, there are entire political campaigns dedicated to “weening us off fossil fuels.” Well, if you want to try and ween yourself off petroleum, be my guest. But you’re going to have to take off the sunglasses, throw away the football, pour the aspirin down the toilet (wait – you can’t use the toilet. PVC pipes are made from petroleum) get rid of your phone, stop using toothpaste, soap and shaving cream. Stop coloring your hair and riding your bike. 

Haul the fridge away, along with the skateboard, scented candles and hand lotion. Ditch your shoes and dishes and have your next surgery without anesthesia. 

And that’s just the start. 

We haven’t even talked about the fact that you won’t be able to take any of those things to the landfill without a car…full of gasoline. 

Speaking of cars…yesterday, I sat in mine, idling in a gas line. 

Apparently, someone hacked a pipeline and it threw the entire eastern part of the United States out of balance. The Biden administration has said it’s a private company problem. I guess I thought the United States government was there to investigate criminal behavior perpetrated against private companies and bring the perpetrator’s to justice. 

Silly me. The United States government is clearly there to educate us on race and pronouns. What was I thinking?

Anyway …

If you think we can live without fossil fuels, try doing it for a few days. Just a few days. See how long it takes before you start to starve or go insane. Look at the run on gas stations just yesterday, and the panic that set in. 

People are not addicted to oil. They’re addicted to getting their kids to school and going to the grocery store and getting to the hospital and driving or flying to another town to chase a business opportunity. 

People are addicted to living their lives. 

And when you see someone opposing something like “The Green New Deal” it’s not because they don’t believe in a clean environment or in exploring all energy options. It’s not because they hate the planet or don’t care about the planet. It’s most likely because they actually understand the complex nature of modern society’s relationship to petroleum and what an immense disruption it would be for a government to simply “decide” not to use it anymore, without something else to replace it.    

Fossil fuels may indeed pollute. The companies that produce them may indeed be run by greedy robber barons. They may be all of the things environmentalists say they are. 

But I only know all of those things because I used some product or device that has petroleum in it. 

No strident artist, holding a picket sign, making us all aware of the problem, saved the whales. Oh, I’m sure a few actors and musicians got some legislation passed here and there or got some conservancies put in place. And they may have helped prop up a few species here or there. 

But the number one saver of the whales, was crude oil. 

And before you start quoting chapter and verse all the legislation that has been passed, through the years, that supposedly ended whaling, just remember that almost none of it was effective. The main thing that stopped whaling was the fact that the demand for what it produced completely disappeared.

If and when we stop using oil, it won’t be at the behest of some bartender-turned- congresswoman, who actually believes building a land bridge to Hawaii is a bone fine, legislatable idea. I mean, we can build a land bridge to Hawaii. We can do anything we set our minds to. 

But we don’t need to do that…


And we should keep flying there. It’s the better way. 

Our shift from fossil fuels won’t come because some president wills it to be so and forces the population to cutting back heat in the winter and cool in the summer or having to ration hot water and electricity. All that does is frustrate people and add unnecessary stress to their lives.  

It will come as a result of new technologies and innovations. And governments cannot dictate how the science will play out. You can’t simply say “we want it to be solar – so it will be solar.” 

It might not be solar. It might be nuclear. It might be something we haven’t even thought about yet. That’s why the innovators have to be unleashed to follow every path. Business must run free. Industry must be nurtured. Thinkers and doers should be held in high esteem, cheered on and not punished. 


They are the ones who are going to find the next fuel source. Because if they are moving forward, it will be an imperative. And humans eventually do pretty well when faced with imperatives. 

We start out killing a lot of sea creatures, who are just minding their own business. But then we find other ways. 

And one day, we will find another way. But until then, keep the gasoline moving. 

The whales thank you.  




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