From Syria to Sunshine

And so we find ourselves, once again, on the brink of sending our military to attack another country, about which, again, we seem to know pathetically little.

Will it be possible to perform a “surgical strike” in Syria, preventing the government armed forces from using chemical weapons without actually taking sides in the civil war?

To what extent have the “rebel forces” been infiltrated by radical Muslim fighters coming over from Afghanistan and Iran?

What are the motives of the shadowy big players looming in the background—China, Russia, Saudia Arabia, Iran, Israel?

Why has the United Nations been so silent?

But here’s the big question that no one is asking: why aren’t we working like banshees to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil?

The fact is that the sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf were insular, off-the-the-beaten track kingdoms until the advent of the modern Western addiction to oil.  It’s all about resources.

If humans replaced our dependence on fossil fuels with a dependence on the mother fuel of it all, the Sun, we would be so much better off.

The Sun is one of those resources, like air, that is free and available to all.  Every tree, every blade of grass, every phytoplankton, benefits from the sun.  The sun plays no favorites, though sometimes clouds intervene.

If we put anything near the amount of dollars we currently put into weapons development, production, and the waging of war, into research & development of solar energy capture, storage and distribution, we would suddenly find ourselves accelerating into a whole new era of human civilization, as dramatic as the shift from coal to oil, or from horsepower to steam.

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The Middle Eastern nations, being naturally sunny, would do fine in a new solar-based economy.

But there’s no part of our globe that is cut off from sunshine.

In fact, the sun shines in my backyard just as brightly as it does in yours.

Exxon/Mobil/BP and all the rest couldn’t lay claim to a monopoly on sunshine, although I am sure they will try to control the storage and distribution networks.

But solar is naturally inclined to egalitarian distribution.  Just as every daisy in the field and every apple on the tree has an equal claim on sunshine, so every human being is also entitled to soak up those rays.

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Photo by Eric Hernandez

Wake up, humanity!  Wake up, Americans!  Understand that we do not have to spend our hard-earned tax dollars on war instead of peacetime priorities like education, health and social security.

Understand that the same forces that want to wage war are the ones that want to frack and drill and build pipelines to Kingdom Come.

Gone is the time when oil came gushing up out of the wells, black gold that would make us all rich.

Now oil is a fool’s gold, bankrupting the majority even while it enriches the few who control the wells, the refineries and the gas stations.

Another world is possible—a world that looks to the sun to warm us and the wind to cool us, at a fraction of the cost of the 21st century extraction of oil.

When we think about intervening in Syria, or Iraq, or Iran, or Afghanistan, or Colombia, or Venezuela, or Ecuador—understand that whatever the stated moral goal, the real reason is a very simple three-letter word: O-I-L.

To which we can respond with some very simple words of our own: S-U-N, W-I-N-D.

N-O-W.

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