Oil companies have been getting a huge amount of flack in recent years, being pointed at as the reason for climate change and hotter weather. While the science is sound and accurate, the debate rages on as to whether or not it should be their responsibility to make the changes needed. However, there is one aspect about oil that isn’t about the doom and gloom in the skies, and it might be killing you as you read this. Thus I ask, should we be allowed to sue the oil companies for death and damage to the human species, or are the lifestyles we lead so important to us that we will happily take them to the grave?
We all know that if we sit in an enclosed garage with the car running, we would quickly die from carbon dioxide poisoning. One teen in my high school used this method to commit suicide. Other than the smell, you don’t feel it killing you, and the smell doesn’t come from the carbon dioxide. If, for some reason, you feel paranoid about this, you could toss in few purifiers and you should be good. Now lets add several cars running their engines. Lots of carbon dioxide fills the garage, but you have your air purifiers going strong.
But your neighbor next door sees your air purifiers and thinks one of them would make a good footrest, so he gets with the other neighbors and convinces them that you should give them one of your air purifiers. You have 11 cars running in their all the time, and plan on getting another 10 in soon, so you refuse to give your neighbor your air purifier. So then your neighbor demands you give him your purifier because it makes for the very best footrest ever. Laws are made that he can take your footrest and you are scolded and belittled for not giving it to him in the first place. Even worse, now that everyone knows about your air purifiers, everyone feels they should have one as well. So they keep taking them from you. To make matters worse, the new purifiers are really weak, and will take a long time before they will work to the efficiency the ones taken away were running at. Soon carbon dioxide is spilling out of your garage and into the garages of the neighbors. They don’t have any air purifiers because the ones they took are now something else and no longer able to be used for their original purpose. Then you start to see all your nearby neighbors looking just a little sick. Nothing too bad, just not as active and driven as usual. Especially when they are in their garage.
This is the basic scenario we live in every day. The garage is our planet, of course, and the trees our air purifiers. While climate change activists point to the skies as a problem, everyone seems to think what spills out of the tailpipes of our cars disappears the moment we can’t see it. But this is not the case, and it may very well be the reason humans in general are getting sicker, lazier, crazier and dying off before their time.
According to the New York Department of Health, “Carbon dioxide (CO) is a gas that can kill you quickly. It is called the silent killer because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating. If the early signs of CO exposure are ignored or the CO concentration is very high, a person may lose consciousness and be unable to escape the danger. CO exposure is the leading cause of death due to poisoning in the United States.”
With this in mind, consider that every car that drives by you belches out 20 tons of carbon dioxide at ground level every year. Conservative numbers estimate around 80-88 million tons of carbon dioxide fill the streets of America from ground-based transportation vehicles every year. Yes, all of that poison eventually goes up into our atmosphere, but everyone gets bathed in it before it does. if we could put colored ink into carbon dioxide molecules, can you imagine what you would see? You would see yourself walking through a vast sea of poison, relentlessly being renewed by every car that passed you by. You could try and leave the city to escape it, but even in the country where the population isn’t high, the problem still exists.
We seem to have this lie that we perpetuate in our heads that as long as we aren’t passing out and dying on the street that carbon dioxide isn’t hurting us. But honestly we can see it in the same light as the Romans drinking from lead goblets. Let’s take a look at the effects of slow, long term carbon dioxide poisoning and see how that relates to what is going on in our society.
The early symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning can be pretty indistinguishable from other ailments. Feelings of nausea and lightheadedness, weakness in the muscles and even visual disturbances, such as seeing dark shapes out of the corner of your eyes, are attributed to Co2 poisoning. Many other things can do this too, however, and because doctors don’t think of carbon dioxide poisoning when you come in, it can be rather easy to misdiagnose.
As the carbon dioxide poison continues to build up in your system, hypertension begins to grip your body. You can’t relax well and you get irritable and angry quicker. Even more poisoning and your heart begins to skip or add beats as the carbon begins to take over the place of oxygen. In some cases this can cause heart attacks, but if it doesn’t, it begins to change the entire way your brain and central nervous system works. As the carbon dioxide continues its attack on your system, stealing away the oxygen and nutrients your body needs to live, your heart and liver begin to give out.
Now lets look at what people in America are going to their doctors to complain about. The Motley Fool believes that while most people think we go in for things such as heart disease and obesity, the two things medical professionals say are the prevailing problems in the country, it turns out these two don’t even make the list. Skin problems, respiratory issues, anxiety, aches in the muscles and bones and neurological disorders are the most common reasons people go to their doctors these days. Every one of these symptoms fit easily with being bathed in constant carbon dioxide. Yet very few people even think to point to car emissions as the problem, no matter how well it fits the bill. Why?
Cars are made to look like freedom to us, and honestly they are. They free up time because they can get from one place to another quickly. They help separate us from people we don’t want to be around, they help us find jobs in other cities, they help us to see every part of the planet. We have muscle cars and girly cars and show cars and monster cars. And we have built our society around them to the point that we even give them personalities like Herbie the Love Bug and Lightning McQueen. We love our cars so much that it is incredibly difficult to see it as a bottle of poison we constantly use to sicken each other. When we hop in the convertible to go off and have a day at the beach, no one thinks of the ocean of carbon dioxide that clouds around everyone as they start it up and hop in. Yet that is exactly what it is doing.
Car manufacturers play on this ignorance, making sleek changes and adding all sorts of electronic gizmos to make your ride seem all the more special. The one thing they won’t do is upgrade their cars so the poisoning will stop. It’s not that they don’t have the technology either. There are plenty of engines that run on water or other safe materials that have been shelved and left to rot. They feed us reasons that sound reasonable if you aren’t putting much thought into it. For example, two of the largest complaints about hydro engines are that they don’t get great mileage and don’t hit the standard speed top of 130 mph. Everyone agrees this is bad and they close the book on it. But is that really a bad thing?
For the most part, people are only concerned about mileage because of how expensive the fuel is. In the early 90’s, I use to drive from San Diego to Milwaukee at least once a year. These days the furthest I drive is to the local mall. Cost dictates our concern for mileage, and last I checked water is far cheaper than gasoline. If you are really worried about having to deal with lower mileage with a water engine, you can fill your trunk up with gallons of water to counter that. You don’t have to hope you make it to the next station, you just have to hope you turned the garden hose off when you left. Many of us carry a gallon of gas in the trunk for this very reason. However, gas is very flammable, and lives have been lost in car accidents that would not have died had there not been gas in the car to begin with.
Next is the top speed issue. Water-based engines run their best at around 35 miles per hour. They can still crank it up to 80 or 90 without any big complaints, but things get worse from there. So hitting the 130 mark isn’t promising with current designs. This can make anyone want to give a thumbs down on the water engine. The smart person, however, will realize that the fastest freeways in America only go 70 mph, easily within the limits of the water-based engines. About the only who would suffer would be race car drivers, law enforcement and emergency vehicles. Guess what? If they were the only ones allowed to use gasoline until the technology caught up with current standards, we would be doing pretty damn good.
Car manufacturers know this. They have toyed with water engines and given us their reasons for not using them. Now we know those reasons are worthless. So what is driving car companies from making the change that would be good all the way around? You know the answer. The oil companies.
These are dark days for the oil industry. They have worked diligently to keep the public uninformed about the dangers fossil fuels cause, both to our environment and to our bodies, for decades. They have even lobbied state offices so governors would sign bills so they could not be sued for the damage they are doing. But now the fuel is starting to run low, the atmosphere is damaged, live is dying out at extinction-level rates and people across the world have risen up wanting them to stop oil production and move to a greener future. With all the evidence in front of them, you think they would take the enormous profits they are making from high pump prices and put it into cleaner, safer forms of energy. It’s not just a common sense thing to do, it is the only thing that can be done to avert far more dangerous weather patterns in the future. Yet they seem hell-bent on draining every last drop of oil from inside the planet. Why? Perhaps they too feel that we have reached the point of no return, so they might as well go out with as many toys as possible. That was the mantra of the rich a couple of decades ago, if you remember? He who dies with the most toys wins! A self-fulfilling prophecy.
Armed with this knowledge we should ask ourselves, should the oil companies be responsible for the poisoning of the people of the world? These companies have lobbied to make their oil the thing the world runs on, they have fought every effort to curb emissions in every machine that uses their oil and they have fought relentlessly to hinder the growth of green energy. Even if you changed your diet, exercised more and gave up your car for a bicycle so you could be healthier, you still couldn’t escape carbon dioxide poisoning. In fact, running down the street to improve your health only draws in more of this poison into your system. Through their greed for profit, they have stolen away your freedom to live healthily.
The oil companies will try to put all of this on you as well. They will say “you are the ones that drove the car!” or “you were the one that wanted your television shows so badly!” When that time comes, do not feel shame. Remember, they are the ones that gave you no other options. If you had a choice between instant gratification in a hostile environment or slower gains in a world designed to keep your body doing what it does in the best possible way, which would you choose?
It seems that the obvious answer is the only one the oil companies don’t want to be part of. For all these reasons, perhaps now it is time for them to pay the piper.