No More Finger-Pointing

“ExxonMobil wants you to feel responsible for climate change so it doesn’t have to shoulder the blame,” says Rebecca Leber in an article on . “A new study reveals how the oil company used ‘cutting-edge propaganda’ to focus on fossil fuel consumption.”

So some corporate behemoth with bajillions of dollars is unwilling to do its part to help fix the mess we’re in? How pathetic!! Meanwhile, millions of us everyday people are out here eagerly trying to do our part. Kudos to all of you.

The way I look at it is, I didn’t cause climate change but I contributed to it, and now I can be part of addressing it. And there are so many different ways to do that.

After World War II, the oil companies systematically worked to destroy what had been a quite developed, nationwide railway network, and destroy other transport modes such as city trolleys; and lobbied for the construction of our massive multibillion-dollar highway system at the expense of all other options. They basically undermined old-fashioned walkable, bikeable, transport-served communities (where children and nondriving elders were able to get around without depending on someone to drive them everywhere) by encouraging car-dependency.

No two ways about it, driving the open road can be fun and exciting. Family roadtrips, camping and all that kind of thing. When I was a kid, the road atlas was one of my favorite books. (My family moved every couple of years — my Dad was in the Navy — and we turned every move into a cross-country camping odyssey in our large, tanklike 1960s and 70s cars. It was amazing, so educational and soul-expanding. Epic sunsets! Desert starry nights! Bear sightings next to the campground shower! Quirky diners with funky neon signs; customer-luring yard-art. One diner had a, like, 20-foot-tall coffee pot out front.)

We (culturally, collectively) just had no idea how much of a monster was being created. Cars invaded every crevice of our lives, til in most places it became abnormal to even walk a block or two to a convenience store. Now we have social isolation, chronic health problems, high rate of traffic fatalities, hideous environmental degradation from the endless expanses of asphalt needed to serve cars, and a whole slew of other ills as a result of our culturally induced car-dependency.

There’s lots of info about all of this out there. (There are even documentary films, and we could stage a showing!! My organization Daytona Beach Permaculture Guild is working on starting a small mobile cinema thing for the community. Maybe you could do something similar in your community.)

The more awareness we have, the easier it’ll be to motivate ourselves to take action on all fronts, from engaging in peaceful demonstrations, to making our voices heard by corporations and government, to getting active in our own city government: calling for walkable communities; speaking out against sprawl development. And, definitely, taking active steps to minimize our own personal and household dependency on cars and petroleum. Dependency is vulnerability!