With two million gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico every day, the resulting toll on the environment is hard to even fathom, but there may be a silver lining in this ever-darkening cloud. For decades, environmentalists have been urging the powers that be to shift away from dirty fossil fuels, and clear a path for greener energy and a more sustainable future. Other than token lip service, this message has largely been ignored by politicians, many of whom have received support from those who have become rich in the oil industry. Just when it seemed the environmental message was starting to make slight headway, a global economic recession shoved it to the backburner again. Almost overnight, global warming and climate change were no longer in vogue, replaced by massive stimulus spending and corporate bailouts on the minds of many. The magnitude of this disaster, and the staggering realization that no one knows how to fix it, has hammered the realization home that we have to look beyond petroleum as an energy source. Yes, it will cost some jobs, but those will be replaced by greener jobs. Our energy needs will continue, but our methods need to change. Even if there is an economic price to pay, is it not time for the environment to trump the economy? As former U.S. vice-president Al Gore recently pointed out, the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez 20 years ago resulted in a shift in public momentum that overcame the anti-environment special interests. With the current BP disaster now confirmed as the worst environmental disaster in American history, the same effect is expected. For those who want a greener future, there has never been a better time to apply pressure to our politicians.
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