Frying Pan or Fire?

With oil hitting $100 a barrel, I think it's increasingly clear that totally irrespective of global warming the quest for alternatives to to the gasoline economy is going to be on in a big way. Absent some economic calamity in the developing world, demand -- and thus, prices -- seem destined to keep trending basically upwards. But while gasoline is hardly environmentally friendly, burning it's not the worst thing one can do for the planet either. The question is, will the replacement be a step forward or backwards? Andrew Dessler observes that "a shortage of oil or price spike is going to put a lot of pressure on politicians to take to relieve the pressure through policies that have disastrous consequences for the climate -- like liquefying coal."

I'm relatively optimistic, but it's a reminder that the rhetoric of "independence from foreign oil," though politically useful in some respects, in many ways fails to educate people on the crucial green issues at stake. Coal, unlike oil, is abundant right here in the USA. It's just toxic.

Photo by Flickr user dmuth used under a Creative Commons license

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In