Sophomore Speech: Oil: It’s Not Just Used for Frying Oreos

Photo by Sam Lee

Oil: It’s Not Just Used for Frying Oreos
By Ellen Deng
Sophomore Speech Finalist

As the annual sophomore speech finals have come to a close, Denebola got the opportunity to obtain each finalist’s transcription and recording of their speech. Sophomore Ellen Deng’s speech entitled Oil: It’s Not Just Used for Frying Oreos enabled her to receive a spot in these finals. Read Deng’s speech below:

The Iraq War. The radicalisation of Iran. The Syrian Civil War. Climate change. These wars, these instances of bloodshed and violence, these threats to humanity share one thing: they were, are, fuelled by the US dependency on oil.

In 1953, the prime minister of Iran passed a policy that dictated that Iran now controlled their own oil pipelines, instead of big Western companies. In the heat of desire for control over these pipelines, the United States government destabilized a perfectly stable nation and radicalised it. The United States was desperate to control these pipes, and so it intervened with its military, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States kept killing innocent civilians, breeding resentment towards America. According to the Global Research Center, the United States went into Iraq after 9/11, not because of Al-Qaeda, but because of its massive oil reserves, sparking a 14 year war. When the US intervened, anti-Western sentiment festered in the heart of the Middle East and gave birth to the extremist groups that everyone fears today. This wasn’t even an issue before the United States intervened. In fact, Garry Leech explains that extremism and suicide bombings were unimaginable fifty years ago. By intervening, the United States created a threat to all American citizens.

The reason why some people can that all refugees are terrorists and that we ban them, and the reason why we have so much Islamophobia, even here at Newton South is because of oil dependency, because of the generalization of a single terrorist threat. There are so many anti-immigration feelings in America. In fact, every day, I’m scared that I’ll be deported to China, even though I was born HERE in America. This fear is because of wars we have waged on other foreign nations.

When we look to the root of the problem, all we find is oil. And this gets worse. It will get worse. The more we use, the less we have, the more expensive it gets, the more the US feels the need to control every last drop. Because our new Secretary of State is Exxon Mobile’s CEO, we will see a rise in oil related conflict.

The US will continue to be dependent on oil and we will continue to make international conflicts worse by interfering because of our greed, our drive to control this product of our earth unless we do something about this.

But what can we do? Everyone in power loves oil, especially the aforementioned Secretary of State. But why? Out of all the things to fight for…. oil. If you think about it, it’s rather silly. We don’t technically need oil for energy. But, green tech still remains underdeveloped and still remain far too expensive to be a commodity, even though we take steps to switch to green tech every day.

The issue is that oil takes up far too much of the United States economy for politicians to just let it go. But politicians are only invested in oil because we, the consumers, make it valuable. We create the demand for crude oil because we are dependent on petroleum products, such as plastic.

I suppose the only real way to fix this is to disappear off the grid to become bearded hippies who use no electricity and don’t wear clothes because shocker! Clothes are technically petroleum products!

At this point, it all seems rather hopeless; it seems so easy to give up because oil products have been so heavily incorporated into our daily lives. Left and right, every way you turn you see a petroleum product staring you in the face.  

But it doesn’t take much to decrease our oil usage, just by a little. Even using a glass cup instead of a plastic cup when brushing your teeth, or opting for an all-natural lip tint instead of a typical oil-based lipstick or even, believe it or not, finding alternate solutions to a headache instead of popping a couple Advils will help decrease our dependency on oil. It’s that easy. It’s that simple.

After all, a couple of extra dollars for a glass cup over a plastic cup is the smallest price we can pay to prevent all of oil’s harmful effects. If we continue to use oil, we are left with two options: either climate change destroys us, or we destroy ourselves, because as far off as climate change might seem, oil dependency poses a threat to all of mankind right now.

This greed for oil has cost American citizens their lives, not only because of the military endeavors the United States has embarked on, but because of the terrorist groups that the US has bred by repeatedly harming civilians. That extra dollar pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of lives that are put at risk every day because we need a new pair of lululemon leggings every year.

We are the generation that have to accept this responsibility, to take what the previous generation has left us with because one person alone cannot do it, because raising awareness isn’t enough, because clicking ‘interested’ on a Facebook event and not actually going won’t change anything. We, as a generation, have to take action now. It sounds cheesy but it’s true: the change starts with us.

And it’s not even hard.