I know it is kind of messed up, but when I first heard the newsthat the Olympic Pipeline in Seattle had sprung a leak, caughtfire, and would be shut down indefinitely, my first response was tolaugh, and to scream, “HAHA! Suckas! I got bike love!” You see, Imade the wonderful decision to sell my car last summer and foralmost a year I have been relying on my bike and public transit asmy sole forms of transportation. Therefore, the increasingly highprices of gasoline have not been affecting me where it hurts, asthey have most of Oregon, in the pocketbooks.
However, I know many people who still own cars and sadly noteveryone is as lucky as I am in being able to work and attendschool within biking distance of my home. Many people have nochoice but to rely on their cars for their livelihood, and forthem, the spikes in gasoline prices will cause much inconvenience.I do not doubt that in some extreme cases, people may lose theirjobs.
Therefore, I will take this opportunity to share my f#*kingopinion on how we can avoid problems like these in the future.There are so many issues brought up when there is an accident suchas the leak in the pipeline that supplies most of Portland’s gas.Our reliance on oil has had countless environmental, political, andsocial ramifications. This dependence is one of the majorcontributors to the phenomenon of global warming, and while theWhite House may want to deny this phenomenon, the scientificcommunity and the governments of most developed countries are inagreement that this problem is legitimate.
Leaks such as the one that was discovered this Sunday are asinherently dangerous to the environment as gasoline is toxic,contaminating food and water for animals in the area surroundingthe leak. But not only that, these accidents can quickly turndeadly for humans as we learned on June 10, 1999 when a leak in thesame Olympic pipeline allowed 277,200 gallons of gasoline to flowinto the Hanna and Whatcom creeks. The gas eventually ignited andkilled three people, an 18 year old and two 10 years olds nearBellingham, Wash.
Accidents and environmental factors are not the only way ourreliance on gas and oil cause the deaths of our children. Who hasany doubt that we would not have been so entangled in the politicsof the Middle East if it weren’t for the oil reserves found there?Just within the term of our current president we have been inAfghanistan and Iraq. Is it really a coincidence that Afghanistanand the Taliban government were making it problematic forHalliburton, a company for which Dick Cheney was formerly CEO, tobuild an oil pipeline through the country? And I hope no one isstill so na�ve as to think oil is not one of the reasons weinvaded Iraq for the second time.
The fact is, and people have been saying this for years but weseem somehow unable to accept it, that oil is a FINITE resource.When it is gone, it is gone. There is absolutely no sense incontinuing to develop an economy around its use. World populationis also continuing to grow exponentially and there are simply notenough resources, or space even for us to all of have cars.Sunday’s pipeline leak, as well as the rising gas prices in theentire country, are just another clue for us – we must change ourpath.
Those of us living in Portland are in a unique position to dothis. Our public transportation system is one of the best in thecountry and we must continue to improve it, and utilize it. We arealso lucky enough to have programs such as FlexCar, where you canhave all the benefits of owning a car without the hassle. And thereis always my personal favorite form of transportation, a bicycle.Portland is a beautiful city, teeming with flowers and trees thatyou just don’t see from a car the same way you experience them on abike.
So the next time you look up at the gas pump and see thoseprices rolling higher and higher, remember that there arealternatives. For your safety, your health, and the future of thehuman race, get a clue and make some changes.