The obvious cost of the US’s oil addiction is Operation Iraq Liberation (OIL) or, um Operation Iraq Freedom. For that we have 150,000 dead human beings, one country in ruins, and the other politically divided and financially stressed.
The worst cost is, of course, what burning all this oil is doing to our atmosphere. Global Warming is real and becoming an irreversible threat to all life on earth. World oil demand was up around 83 million barrels per day last year – one quarter of which was consumed by the United States with less than 5% of the world population. But I digress…
Another, less obvious costs is the loss of freedom to ambulate – American cities and towns are structured to accommodate cars, not pedestrians, resulting in over 42,000 traffic deaths annually and an overweight/obesity rate over 60%.
Easy oil means easy plastic abuse as in the bottled water craze. If you told people 50 years ago they would be buying their drinking water in single-use petroleum-based bottles, would they have believed it? Sure, the plastic (#1 PET) is ‘technically’ recyclable, but that isn’t what happens. The packaging of bottled water costs 1.5 million barrels of oil annually to satisfy US cravings for bottled water alone and 86% of those containers are landfilled. See: BOTTLED WATER: POURING RESOURCES DOWN THE DRAIN.
Finally, those ubiquitous plastic car magnets, flags and bracelets proclaiming support for the oil war are a great example of how mindless the hunger for cheap oil and plastic is in the United States.