Pointless Protest Party

Not only was the most recent Anti-Bush Protest Pointless, the Party actually helped fund the petroleum warlord regime.

I watched c-span coverage of the protest in New York on Sunday, August 29th and I noticed massive signs advertising a massive SUV, and signs urging free choice, nylon earth flags, peace signs and hand lettered signs of all kinds, and right in front of McDonalds a something was set ablaze to the delight of the crowd, especially when New York’s finest justified their overtime pay by promptly extinguishing the fire and protecting the crowd with steal barriers. But interesting to me was the absence of signs linking oil to the war. Gone were the signs and chants that said “No Blood for OIL” or anything like it that would call our attention to the shared addiction to cheap petroleum. That said I want to point out just some of the economic value of the protest to the petroleum war regime and economy:

Plane tickets $75 Million (avg. $300 x 250,000)
Security $50 Million (published amount of extra federal funding for security)
Food trucked into the city $20 Million (avg. $20 per person, 4 days)

These three items alone add up to $145 Million dollars in direct funding to support the current petroleum war regime and economy. Imagine if that $145 Million had been spent to elect local politicians that would accurately reflect the Will of The People.

Imagine if these petroleum consumers had stayed home instead of boarding the most energy intensive, environmentally destructive form of transportation available. They would not only deny that $145 million in funding to the petroleum war regime, they would have also each spared the planet an average of 2500kg of CO2 emissions, a total of over 250,000 metric tonnes for the jet air travel alone, for this one trip!

These same people will carry signs urging protection of the environment, yet in ways their own American Lifestyle is the backbone of support for the regime they claim to be protesting. Some even work in the defense, auto or other petroleum dependent industry themselves and are highly offended when challenged to examine their own consumption. Many are so completely addicted to cheap petroleum they will become annoyed and even honk at a bicyclist or pedestrian impeding their progress in any way.

An impressive 250,000 or more people showed up for the Protest Party, and the economic benefit to New York is surely tremendous, but how much more could be done if those 250,000 were to become leaders in their local communities as activists for reducing petroleum consumption by 25%? America imports 25% of total consumption from the Middle East region, how hard could it be for everyone to reduce consumption by 25%?

These protests are really nothing more than social events for the masses to gather and vent. Vendors hawk their goods, while marchers chat on cell phones and pose for cameras. It is a celebration.

If I was an average Iraqi citizen, if I could see this on TV, I would be outraged. Clearly these people have no clue as to the destruction carried out to secure the fuel that makes the American Way of life possible. Let me be clear, I do not support petroleum dependent regimes and cultures of any flavor. I have heard that in some Middle East countries 80% to 90% of the people rely on income from oil sales. This has turned out to be tragic in epic proportions, with western corporations empowering ruthless dictatorships friendly to the “extractive” industries. The net result has been cultural genocide of historic proportions, for example the in the Sudan. If I was an average third world citizen with oil under my sand I would have good reason to be scared.

But I am not an average citizen from any of those places, I am a natural born citizen of the U.S.A. and for this I am truly and deeply grateful. I love my country and the freedom and prosperity I have enjoyed, but I feel ashamed right now. I feel ashamed that most of my fellow countrymen still support the petroleum war regime, some overtly, others subtly, with their petroleum consumption choices. Even the proposal to slow down when driving is met with disdain by all. Propose grounding the jet airline industry and watch peoples face go blank.

To be clear, if folks would voluntarily moderate consumption the eco-sphere is large and forgiving. We can, and do, emit a certain amount of CO2. That is ok, in fact plants and trees love it. One expert has calculated that perhaps we could each take two jet air trips per year, but as other nations develop and consume more oil; our percentage of allowable emissions will be reduced. We already consume and emit as much as 100 times that of most of the world population. But folks will not moderate, so the true economic costs must be reflected at the ticket counter and fuel pump. But that is a whole other rant; see TantricTravel.com or Drive55.org for more on this.

In closing this protest of the pointless protest, I point out the irony of the participants personal petroleum consumption preferences, I urge reducing personal petroleum consumption by choosing not to fly in jet airplanes, by slowing down and by choosing not to buy petroleum dependent products in every way possible. These include food trucked in from far away, overnight shipping, products made from petroleum like plastic and synthetic fertilizer, household, commercial and industrial chemicals, tires, cars, clothing, toys and much more! If Wal-Mart or Home Depot has it, a petroleum powered truck brought it. Protest by hitting them where it hurts, in their pocketbook!