Letting an oil company into your country is like dating a horrible person just because she (or he) is beautiful. Sure, when people see you together you feel great, proud and important. But, at home she insults you, undermines your authority and lays around the house in sweat pants, making a mess she expects you to clean up. At the same time she does everything she can to prevent you from moving on.
Take Oklahoma for example, once called the “Oil Capital of the World,” we rarely ever had earthquakes in my home state, then they began. In 2013 we had 103, in 2014 we had 585! This rise in earthquakes has been empirically linked to the process of exploiting oil and gas called hydraulic fracking. IT CAUSES EARTHQUAKES! But… we are still doing it.
Now you can imagine that in a state with such dependence on the oil industry that industry exerts a lot of influence in the writing and passing of laws. As the world moves closer to using solar energy, Oklahoma just passed a law placing a tax on households who get the majority of their energy from their own solar panels. Yes, the state just decided to tax the sun! Why? Well because the sun’s light is free and if everyone used it the carbon based energy companies would be out of business.
Oil companies never have the people’s interest at heart. And they aren’t required to because the politicians always profess that they “can regulate the industry.” And that’s like saying you watch porn for the acting. The industry is stronger than your politicians, it has more power, more money and it knows how to use them. Croatia’s politicians barely know how to be politicians, much less take on a company whose revenue exceed the entire country’s GDP.
And the powerless
Even in Norway the oil industry has skirted regulation. The Guardian reported that secret documents reveal leaks and spills in the North Sea occur daily and go unreported. If there was ever a time for some Croatian skepticism it’s when someone tells you “it’s well-regulated.” What does that mean? How will the regulations be enforced? What are the consequences if violations are found? Do you really think any Croatian government has the stamina to standup to the oil industry in the best interest of the country’s citizens? Oklahoma certainly doesn’t, what makes Croatia different?
Back to the relationship metaphor: the trends and styles change, and pretty soon your once beautiful date now just looks dated. Just like the world moved on from big hair and shoulder pads, jams and Hawaiian shirts, so too is it moving away from carbon-based sources of energy. The Financial Times and Bank of America have recently reported that solar energy is the new place to invest. By 2050, it is estimated solar power will have fully replaced carbon fuels.
The future is now
With oil and gas exploitation in the Adriatic I feel like Croatia is trying to catch up to the past, when we should be focused on the future. The carbon economy is like sooo 20th Century. Already, 55.5 percent of Croatia’s energy comes from carbon neutral hydro-electric and nuclear power.
Let’s imagine two headlines like two roads diverging in a wood. We can chose which one to take: Croatia embraces the future by investing in the sun. Or, Oil spill destroys world’s most beautiful coast. Why tether ourselves to a dying, irresponsible, hazardous out-of-style industry? The gains seem minuscule compared to the magnitude of the costs.