Slippery Oil People

05/17/2010 11:32 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The winds are blowing mildly off of the Pacific Ocean here today in San Diego. I love walking along the beach in nearby Del Mar and just a little further down the coast is majestic La Jolla. A few miles south are my old stomping grounds, for the forever young, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

Each of these beaches is unique in its own right though the one thing they all share in common is a sense of infinity. Because you can look out from any one of their shores and see forever unobstructed. Naturally its to the horizon, but if your imagination allows you, you see over that cusp to what lays beyond. I think this sense of infinity and all of its hope and glory is vital to our well-being.

If you go north up the coast about an hour to Long Beach though you won't have this experience. The beaches themselves are nice, however oil rigs and tankers servicing those drillers are ever-present. The current British Petroleum disaster in the Gulf reminds us that many more are out there beyond our view.

We are all accountable for our oil consumption. Let's be clear that as consumers we share some responsibility. For example, just as cigarette smokers share responsibility for keeping tobacco companies in business.

But there seem to be further parallels between these two analogies, and those are predatory business practices. The combustionable engine is more than 50-years old. Who is keeping this relic alive? It is inconceivable that in this age of innovation, a newer, more economical, alternative fuel supported engine or power generator would not have come along to replace fossil fuel supported equipment as the primary source of energy.

So I feel skeptical that the oil companies are doing everything they can to help us. I wish someone would come forward as the brave people from the tobacco companies did and blow the whistle. It has been a long haul with the tobacco companies and continues to be. Breaking the oil cartel is proving to be even harder.

The sad truth about this all is that even if one accepts the environmental and resulting human devastation, the earth only has a relatively short amount of oil left. Reports I have read range anywhere from 50 to 125 more years of oil for the world to burn if every last drop was extracted. That's nothing. In comparative terms, you can get a 100-year lease on a commercial building.

So one way or another oil people's domination over our common sense will end. Either they'll drag us out until that last drop, or we'll let innovators rise up. I believe these innovators are out there. And I believe that corporate and political pressures have shut them down.