Fossil Fuel High

Oklahoma-City-Image

The human race is on a fossil fuel high, and it feels real good. Fossil fuel has contributed to economic progress previously unseen in the history of humankind, and every part of our lives has been made more convenient from the use of fossil fuels and their byproducts. Today fossil fuel got me to work and my kids to school and cooled both places during a day of 100 degree Oklahoma heat and then got us back home. We poured drinks this evening from plastic bottles, and I am typing on plastic keys in a room where the windows have plastic blinds that shade my home office from the heat of the day and provide privacy at night. I am surrounded by artifacts of a fossil fuel society. My family opts for our electric company’s wind option, but our electricity comes from a grid fueled by natural gas and coal. Like almost everyone else in the world, I am addicted to fossil fuel, and when I am not thinking about it – I like it! It has me, my city, my country, and my world on an economic, convenience, transportation, and comfort high; and with my whole life and way of being in the world I resist coming down from the high.

It would be so wonderful if there were no problem with this fossil fuel high. How I would like to believe there is no problem with it! We have managed to mitigate some of the most noticeable problems with cleaner technologies and unleaded gasoline. The smog and acid rain of my youth are not half as bad as they used to be. We even comfort ourselves with talk of “clean coal” and “cleaner” natural gas as a bridge to the future. We like to think we can manage this addiction in such a way that no one will really get hurt. We convince ourselves that we are better off with the high, that the withdrawals will be too painful to ourselves and society as a whole. We are good at convincing ourselves we do not have a problem. Denial.

The human race is on a fossil fuel high – and we are addicted to the fossil fuels that provide this high. Climate change is the global symptom of our addiction and fossil fuel overdose. When we experience addictions as individuals, we often have to hit a bottom to jolt us from our denial. At these times of hitting bottom we are most open to help and interventions that will begin a long and disciplined process of recovery. The problem with our collective fossil fuel addiction is that it is leading us to an eventual experience of a ‘bottom” that will be devastating for human civilization and much of life on earth. We need to be able to admit that we have a problem and begin our recovery before reaching a bottom that could likely be the sixth great extinction on our planet. The first step is admitting we have a problem. It is time for us to help each other as a society in the most comprehensive intervention effort in human history that will lead to recovery and a way of being and doing in the world that lead to flourishing rather than suffering. We have become powerless over our fossil fuel addiction, and our collective addiction has become unmanageable for the health and safety of human civilization. Let us stand ready in this awareness to do what is necessary “to lift this merciless obsession from us” – (from Step One from Alcoholics Anonymous).

* photo of Oklahoma City skyline

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is The Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. From 2009 to 2015, Mark was dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences and Wimberly Professor of Social Ethics at Oklahoma City University. Previously, Mark was dean of the Wimberly School of Religion at Oklahoma City University and Founding Director of the Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership. Prior to becoming dean of the Wimberly School of Religion in 2002, he was associate dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma City University and chair of the department of philosophy. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University.
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