Oil is a necessary part of everyday life for North Americans. We rely on it for transportation, heating and cooling our homes, fueling our businesses, and providing essential materials for the global economy. But this reliance on oil has become an obsession, driving countries to consume more than is sustainable and putting communities at risk.
At the root of this obsession with oil is the perception that it is an abundant, cheap and essential commodity that provides a steady supply of energy for North Americans. This attitude has encouraged companies and countries to continually seek out new sources of oil and to deregulate the fossil fuel industry, creating a dangerous situation with serious environmental and health impacts.
The consequences of this oil obsession have been devastating. In order to meet demand, energy companies have started to move towards more extreme means of extracting oil, including unconventional oil sources like tar sands and fracking. These techniques result in increased emissions of greenhouse gases and release a range of toxins into the environment, endangering water supplies and ecosystems. There have also been multiple oil spills in North American waters, most notably in the Gulf of Mexico, causing environmental devastation that will be felt for generations.
Air pollution from the burning of oil has caused an increase in respiratory illnesses, particularly in lower-income communities who tend to face the brunt of the impacts from the oil industry. At the same time, oil companies are profiting tremendously from the North American obsession with oil, with a few companies dominating the market and reaping the commercial rewards of their monopoly over this essential resource.
Ultimately, our obsession with oil has put us on an unsustainable path that threatens our health and environment, while doing nothing to make us energy independent. Rather than investing in renewable forms of energy and carbon-reduction initiatives, governments are pandering to the fossil fuel industry, locking us into an energy path that only serves to line the pockets of the few.
The long-term impact of this oil obsession is increasingly clear. We need to break away from our dependency on oil and find a path towards a sustainable and equitable energy economy. Investment in renewable sources of energy, the proliferation of green jobs, and increased public-private partnerships in order to build a better future for North America should be a priority. We must put an end to our oil obsession before it’s too late.