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CONSERVATION CORNER: Petroleum and us

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By Tom Deverin

Petroleum has been in the news lately, oil spills, new lands being leased for oil exploration and what effects all of us the most - the price of gasoline.
The current national average for a gallon of gasoline is now $3.80 per gallon. A little over three years ago, it was less than $2.00 per gallon. On thing is certain, the price of gas is going up and will keep going up for several reasons. Political unrest in oil producing countries, world population increases, developing countries using more and more petroleum products in an effort to emulate developed countries and the lack of global leadership to address this issue. Now, add in the pollution caused by burning of all fossil fuels, the climate change attributed to the consumption of these fossil fuels and we have a problem. At some point the planet will run out of oil. We can put this off for awhile by extracting oil from sources that are difficult, environmentally dangerous and ever more expensive but the reality is that it is a finite resource and eventually the oil age will come to an end.
Oil is everywhere. Plastics are made from oil. Our roads are covered with it. Our nations food production depends on it, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, tractor fuel, the processing and transportation of food products all depends on fossil fuels. The point is that almost everything that touches our day-to-day lives involves, in one way or another, petroleum products. That was all well and good 50 years ago when we didn't know any better. But that time has passed and with it has gone the luxury of basing virtually our entire culture - particularly our energy use - on a foundation of fossil fuels, with little concern for the future. This is the future, so now what do we do?
There are some things that we can do to change this. We could all go out and buy very fuel efficient cars but that is probably not going to happen. Here is something that we can all do right now. During trips to Chiefland you always see folks from Cedar Key doing the same thing. So the next time you go off the island to go shopping call up a friend or neighbor and ask if they would like to go along to shop or if you can pick something up for them. When a neighbor rides along with you it is more enjoyable and eliminates another car driving to Chiefland and back thus saving gasoline and money. Another approach is to reduce the number of shopping trips off island. Shopping locally keeps money here and supports our local businesses. It doesn't make sense to drive almost 70 miles to save $5 or $10 dollars, the gas will cost more than that.
We are not going to eliminate petroleum products from our lives but we can reduce the amount that we use. Driving less and carpooling can reduce gas consumption right now, try it, it is painless and can be enjoyable.