Imagine for a moment you’re sitting in a very large stadium with about 50,000 other people. You are all there for a conference on global warming or cleaning up the oceans or zero waste lifestyles or some variation on saving the planet from all the current climate change challenges. The collective energy is intoxicating.

Imagine you are sitting there in that audience and the Key Note Speaker takes the stage (you can probably see him or her on the big screen). The place gets quiet. After welcoming you all, the speaker asks how many of you arrived at the conference in some way that didn’t require the use of an oil-related product. Basically, how many biked, walked, drove an electric car, or took an electric train, etc.?

The speaker asks for a show of hands. You look around. My guess is there would be a scattering of hands that go up as a murmur goes through the crowd.

Then, imagine the speaker asks the crowd how many arrived in some way that required the use of an oil-related product. That includes planes, most cars and trucks (including hybrids), motorcycles, most buses, most uber, lyft or taxi services, most shuttle buses, etc. My guess is the majority of hands would go up. In a stadium of that size, people would probably come from lots of cities and few would be able to simply bike or walk. The people in the stadium look around and remain quiet and are now more reflective and getting a little uncomfortable.

Imagine the speaker then asks the crowd to raise their hands if, in the past 24 hours, they have used a disposable plastic product of any kind. That might be a plastic bag, a shampoo bottle, a water bottle, some food wrapped in plastic or in a plastic container, or maybe a bag of nuts purchased at an airport. Maybe a straw or a plastic fork or a wet-wipe or a toothbrush or a flosser. My guess is that, once again, the majority of hands go up.

People by now are really getting uncomfortable and are starting to get defensive. (“I can’t afford an electric car.” “All my plastic is recyclable.”) You’re starting to shift in your seat and notice others doing so as well.

The speaker then reminds the crowd that plastic is made from oil. If you google it, most of the sites will says it’s made from polymers and polymers are made from carbon and hydrogen blah blah blah but really it’s oil. Don’t be fooled by the spin-doctoring that happens. It’s oil.

Imagine you’re sitting in that stadium and that information is starting to sink in.

You begin to realize that you (meaning we) LIVE AN OIL-CENTRIC LIFE.

Even those of us who might find ourselves at a conference on saving the planet.


Let that sink in.


We live in an oil-centric society. Even those of who are dedicated to saving the planet.

Even those of us who have made tons of changes and write to our politicians and try to move toward zero waste lifestyles.

Kind of disturbing, huh?

As I ponder things like this, I’m left wondering how do we move from KNOWING what is harming the Earth to DOING something radically different? How do we close the gap?

Obviously, awareness is the first step, but actually making changes in every area of our lives is going to be a big challenge.

How do we move from being an oil-centric society to being a society that basically functions without it? Can we function without it?

I don’t know the answer. I’m not sure anyone does yet.

Why are solar-powered cars not a thing?

I still drive a gas-powered car and I still buy a lot of my food in plastic containers. Buying recyclable products makes me feel a little better but it only masks the problem. The truth, as I understand it, is that the plastic is just recycled so it can be made into more plastic and on and on it goes.

When will it stop?

It’s not sustainable.

What’s it going to take to wake us up?

Will oil be the thing we all choose to die for?

I welcome your thoughts and prayers. I think we’re going to need them.

I watch in horror as my beloved Oregon burns.

I watch in horror as the people of this beautiful State demonize the teenager who likely started the fire.

I pore through articles, blogposts, and news stories about the devastation that is happening and I am filled with genuine remorse.

Yes. Remorse.

It’s true I didn’t start the forest fires or participate in the lighting of the matches, but I am responsible and I feel remorse.

I rail against the politicians for not doing enough to save the environment. I’m irritated by the climate change deniers for not “believing” in science. I despise the big oil companies for being greedy, our President for not caring about the earth, and Mother Nature for a winter of too much rain with a scorching dry summer. I complain and whine and point fingers and continue to feel self-righteous and indignant.

But what am I doing? What am I really doing?

I am part of the problem. I am actively participating in global warming.

Yes, I reduce, reuse and recycle and sign petitions and donate money and write letters to my Members of Congress, but I really haven’t changed much.

What am I REALLY doing to help this earth? What am I willing to do OR NOT DO to save this planet? Really? What am I doing?

I sit in my big air-conditioned house with all the windows closed and way too many lights on and I curse the smoke and ash falling from the sky.

I drive my big mini-van everywhere because it’s too hot or too cold or too rainy or too smoky or too inconvenient to do otherwise.

I take long hot showers and contemplate the destruction of our planet and I don’t even give my own behavior a second thought.

I own my own home with a large yard and I don’t grow any of my own food.

I continue to eat beef even though I know the meat production in this country contributes to global warming.

I mindlessly run the water when brushing my teeth.

I buy new clothing instead of used and then justify it by using coupons and buying things on sale. The waste associated with discarded clothing doesn’t even enter my mind.

I almost always forget my re-usable shopping bags when I go to the grocery store and then pat myself on the back for using paper bags instead of plastic. It doesn’t occur to me to save a freaking tree.

I buy produce packed in plastic because it’s easier and I justify my behavior by telling myself I’m a busy mom who still feeds vegetables to her kids.

I take my kids to coffee shops and order water with their treats. The water comes in a plastic cup with a plastic lid and a plastic straw. They drink a little and throw it all in the trash. I thank them for not littering and feel proud that they aren’t drinking soda.

These are just a few of the horrific things that came to mind as I watched the forest fire jump the Columbia River and spread to the State of Washington.

The remorse I feel is huge and weighs heavy on my heart.

I willingly helped in the destruction of something I love and the amends to this place will only happen through my own more responsible behavior.

The consuming and wasting are killing this beautiful planet we call home.

It’s time for me to wake up and change.

Would you care enough to join me?