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On the ten-year anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11/01, many people are using the occasion to take stock of how the past decade has changed us (The Onion nails it, again). Over the last ten years, we have debated, sometimes heatedly, what the appropriate response should have been to those attacks, but a military response was pretty much inevitable. Today, there's no denying that thousands of soldiers are still deployed to the Middle East because of what happened ten years ago. Given the green car focus of this website, we wanted to use this date to point out something that, you would think, would not be up for debate (but it is, somehow): Using less oil is good for just about everyone.

Whether you're a fan of keeping the environment as clean as possible, paying less for your transportation or have a national security fetish, there is no question that the U.S. uses more than its fair share of petroleum, and this has tremendous costs, especially for the military. One of the most poignant numbers – and we could quote dozens, maybe hundreds, of different figures here – comes from CNNMoney: One in eight soldiers who were killed or wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007 did so while they were protecting fuel convoys.

Here are some other numbers noted by CNN: The U.S. military used 5.5 billion gallons of fuel in 2010, and overall, the energy used by the military makes up 80 percent of the energy used by the entire federal government. Per capita, the military used 3,555 gallons, while the average U.S. civilian used "just" 945 gallons.

There is a lot to think about surround this anniversary, and we hope the discussion in the comments will be respectful as you post your own thoughts. We just wanted to point out that there's a good case to be made that people who are often portrayed as being on different sides of the political spectrum – greenies and military supporters – should be able to agree on this one point: Using less oil is good for just about everyone. We'll repeat it for emphasis again if necessary.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      I found this on another website. It is an interesting take on the true history of the US in the Middle East for the past 40 years... In 1972 President Nixon went to Iran.  He had promised F-15 fighters (not yet operational) to Israel and the Shah demanded some too; Nixon agreed, in exchange for oil.  Emboldened, Israel fought the Yom Kippur War and in fear Saudi Arabia started the Oil Embargo and demanded F-15s, too.  Nixon/Ford agreed and in 1975 we sent CIA director George HW Bush, White House Chief-of-Staff Dick Cheney and Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to the Saudi King and penned a huge (That’s HUGE!) weapons-for-oil deal. The Soviets weren't too happy about the weapons for oil deal and Egypt & Iraq becoming friendly to the West. The USSR invaded Afghanistan, then the US covertly sent in CIA to assist in fighting against them.   This addiction to oil directly caused; The Iranian Hostage Crisis The Iraq-Iran War The missile attack on the USS Stark, and USS Cole The Invasion of Kuwait Desert Storm The Khobar Towers bombing The US Embassy bombing- Kenya and Tanzania 9-11 The Afghan War The Iraq War And, Climate Change Imagine Nixon would have been for finding alternative energy and producing electric cars where where would be today...
        Richard Nygaard
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        "And, Climate Change" heh.... hahaha.. oh man thats a good one.
        Jeff Zekas
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        I agree with Ryan... and, the REAL cost of oil would be the number of barrels, spread out over the NINETY BILLION DOLLARS of the Iraq war, coupled with the billions we spend on overseas bases, in order to maintain our oil supply... I am guessing the TRUE cost of oil (not to mention the priceless cost of lives lost) would be HUNDREDS of dollars per barrel!
        Michael
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        Ryan, Unfortunately at that time we were nowhere close to being able to develop other energy sources outside of nuclear power. Solar, Wind and Hydrogen were still basically theoretical. Sure, we could create wind turbines but they were too inefficient and costly, the same for solar panels and Hydrogen Fuel cells were only pipe dreams. Face it were still not there. Solar and Wind are still more expensive than fossil fuels and will remain as such for the near term, though the gap is narrowing and quickly. Wars are fought for 2 main reasons - resources and religions. That will not change any time soon.
        Dave D
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        Michael, you're missing the main thrust of his argument. All of those events are directly attributable to us trying to control oil. We thought it was cheaper to get oil by controlling the source through backroom deals with people like the Shah of Iran and military operations where needed, rather than just buying oil from whoever would sell it the cheapest. It may have *looked* cheaper when you said this oil cost $20 a barrel, but they ignored all the other cost associated with getting that oil at $20 a barrel. My argument is that it would have been cheaper to have just let economics determine the price of oil and saved all the military costs. You know...that free market thing we always espouse. But of course, then we can't resist trying to get in there and "fix" that free market by influencing it. Oh yes, I forget...we don't REALLY believe in free markets, we just like to use the term in speeches.
          Michael
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Dave D
          Dave, I did see his point but do not believe he is correct. He stated that Nixon should have focused on alternative energy sources instead of oil. As for your point, had the US and other developed nations decided not to attempt to control the flow of oil from the middle east, what companies would have been drilling for the oil under their lands? The National Oil companies of all mid-east nations gained technology that allowed them to drill for oil by partnering with the likes of Shell, BP and Exxon. During the rapid expansion of the US and Western European economies from the end of WW2 until the late 70s, had these firms not been in the land of Saud, progress as determined by GDP growth would have been retarded due to a lack of energy sources available. Could the US and Western Europe made better choices on how to attempt to control the oil supply? Yes. Could they have decided to just let nature run it's course and still expand their economies a the rates we saw during that time period? No.
      electronx16
      • 3 Years Ago
      Alt fuel vehicles shouldn't be a partisan debate. Even if the Anthropogenic climate change thing sounds a bit far fetched to you national security and the cost of oil/petrodollar related conflicts and the economy should be an appealing argument for you to support measures to control our oil addiction. So I don't think anti plug-in campaigners have a credible partisan political agenda. The whole thing seems more related to corporate agendas.
        BipDBo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @electronx16
        Agreed. As a republican conservationalist who is very excited about electrification of vehicles, I think that the backlash against plug-ins from a small number of conservatives is almost entirely directed at the Volt and is rooted in lingering anger at GM for taking bailout funds. It's very odd, because it's kind of like being angry at an ER patient for accepting blood. Also, some of the backlash comes from the fact that they don't buy the claims of global warming and are nausiated by the green movement. I think it would do this monority good to lay down on some shrink's couch find the root of their anger so that they can evaluate this with some rationality.
          sirvixisvexed
          • 6 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          Agreed, I am a repub / libertarian and the small number of right wingers who are mad at gm for taking bailout funds have this idea that Obama supporting electric cars, and ALL major car companies in the world moving to electrics, is somehow obama FORCING them to do so. Didn't you hear? Taking blood in the ER makes you turn into the person who the blood came from!!!!!
          Richard Nygaard
          • 6 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          I would say its more like being angry at the heart transplant patient for taking the stolen heart. The money they took was stolen from tax payers. But even my example may be a bit of a stretch as the human life is worth much more than the existence of some company. I would have been fine with GM filing for bankruptcy. Thats how the system works, if your company sucks and you cant make a profit then you fail. Its pretty simple. You dont steal money from the tax payers to keep your business going.
      • 2 Years Ago
      a bomb does not use one gallon of gas.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Considering the total cost being around USD 4400 billion (USD 15k per capita), the war on terrorism came with a debt. It's better now than later that military starts to find alternatives to oil, with biofuelled Raptors patrolling the airways and HMMWV being (apparently on the picture?) replaced by JLTV (a hybrid of electric motors and 35 kW portable diesel generator for the car and the base) and so on. Even nuclear reactors on warships might be replaced by aneutronic fusion reactors co-developed by NASA and US Navy.
      fairfireman21
      • 3 Years Ago
      Since 9-11 it was to kill the SOB's that killd all the people here, it was not for the oil. Yea Osama set it up because we use too much oil, who the heck is wrighting this garbage? It was because the USofA has it better than all the rag heads! We do not have to hump the hump of the camels all we have to do is get in our suv/cars to go where we need to go.
      Fons Jena
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is painful to see that so much oil and money is wasted in such a war. If I start dreaming what we could have done with the money... If we get out of there extremism will automatically decline and the same if we start using less oil. An extremism is caused by another form of extremism, so lets tackle the problem at the roots: just decrease poverty in the middle east and Islamic extremism will go away much more efficiently than fighting them. Decreasing our arrogance may also work. Just saying.
        RJC
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Fons Jena
        Give someone a roof over their head in a safe area, food on the table for their family and a job. Guess what? They're content, and won't be open to extremism. Follow that formula for the whole Middle East and the problem will go away. A little education won't hurt either.
          Actionable Mango
          • 6 Months Ago
          @RJC
          I used to believe that, but in reality many of the violent extremists being caught in the West have turned out to be well educated people, including university degree and even post grads. They have jobs and even great careers, including medical, technical, and engineering fields.
          Marco Polo
          • 6 Months Ago
          @RJC
          Great! What a wonderful idea! Why didn't anyone think of that? Just one tiny little problem, how ? Just roll up to the extremists in Iran, (who teach their children to hate), and say, "Golllley! Let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya", These fanatics have murdered indiscriminately on every continent! The hatred of the west and moderate Muslims, has nothing to do with poverty. Iran is not poor, just mismanaged. if the west shows weakness, even moderate Islamic nations will fall into the clutches of extremists. But extremists with nuclear weapons, and the mad determination to use them. What will you do then?
          sirvixisvexed
          • 6 Months Ago
          @RJC
          Hey RJC and fons, my current apartment (gone in 3 1/2 months!) is where you would call "in the ghetto", and I am not what you would call "ghetto", and let me tell you, despite all the welfare checks, they're all still violent as ever, i watch them every day! Giving someone money and a home does not make them civilized! In the middle east, it may be different because real hardworking disciplined people are oppressed, but in America, only ignorant leftists like to believe that people who are poor and violent are so because "they have no other choice!!!" which is so dead wrong.
          Richard Nygaard
          • 6 Months Ago
          @RJC
          The problem is that stuff cant be "Given" away without stealing it from someone else. You have to EARN it. Otherwise you wont appreciate it and you will treat the freebies like crap and everything will look like a ghetto in a few months.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Getting off of oil is a win-win-win scenario. The Environment wins. The Economy wins. World-wide conflict decreases. The reason it isn't happening is because those that profit from oil are very rich and very powerful. Unless, and until our elected representatives are immune to the corruptive (financial) influence of Big Oil, the planet is doomed. One important consideration that was suggested by Dr. Andy Frank (inventor of the PHEV) is this: for global stability oil-producing countries still need to profit from oil (as it is their only natural resource in many cases). How can we get off of oil and not plunge those countries into a depression that would affect the global economy? The answer is by using more plastics in construction and manufacturing. The oil can still be extracted and sold, but used for manufacturing rather than burning. There is much promise in this idea - just look at the high-strength, light-weight materials that can made from polycarbonate-based chemicals, without harming the environment. There is a way out of this toxic addiction. We just have to do it.
      Dave D
      • 3 Years Ago
      You're leaving out the fact that a big part of the reason we're over there in such numbers and even have a large part of our military is to insure a supply of oil. That dwarfs all other considerations.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave D
        Yup... i have friends that served their time in the middle east and they have mentioned that occasionally their job was to secure oil fields. Notice that we get all up in arms about Libya ( they have oil ) and not Syria / other countries that are having dictatorship "issues"... This is a really expensive oil subsidy that results in lots of people getting killed, injured, and lots of subsidized medical care down the road for injured and/or mentally traumatized soldiers. Al Qaeda is alive and well. I am not sure what we have accomplished in the last 8 years.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          I think GM managed to put out a compact 4 seater hybird that gets 37MPG........? Is that progress?
      Actionable Mango
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Per capita, the military used 3,555 gallons, while the average U.S. civilian used "just" 945 gallons." I don't really understand what to take from this. Is the military supposed to use the same amount of fuel per capita as a US civilian? They are moving armored vehicles across rugged terrain.
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have another perspective. It has become apparent , in spite of attempts to keep it from the public, that the US has the greatest reserves of petro fuel on earth. Our good neighbor Canada is similarly endowed. These costs documented in this post can and should be directly attributable to the obstructionists that have used every cheap trick in the book to try to prevent us from developing our own fuel resources.
        Spec
        • 6 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        WTF are you talking about? Perhaps you actually believe Michelle Bachmann? LOL. Oil shale (kerogen) is so economic that essentially zero barrels were produced. You really think there is some conspiracy theory hiding oil? Who would want to do that and has the power to do that? No one. Why are conspiracy theories so rampant on the right?
          Richard Nygaard
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spec
          I wont get into who would want to do it, but who could thats easy. The pres signs executive orders all the time.
        Jeff Zekas
        • 6 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        Those "reserves" are called tar sands... perhaps the most environmentally destructive methods are used to extract that oil... obstructionists? no, we call them CONSERVATIONISTS... god bless John Muir...
          Richard Nygaard
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Jeff Zekas
          As environmentally destructive as what I exhale, the evil CO2?
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      There's no such thing as a "fair share" of petroleum. You get as much as you pay for and no more. And no less. There's no inherent fairness or for that matter no inherent inequity.
      Dave D
      • 3 Years Ago
      throwback, Can't you see beyond one issue? It's not just Afghanistan. We're talking about the whole region. Afghanistan is just one of the places we're fighting in over there and even if we get out of Afghanistan, we'll still be spending troops and money protecting pipelines and oil fields or governments we feel are "friendly" to us.
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