Thursday, March 01, 2007

Oil Free for a Day in March!!!

arMy students are learning about environmental science and this month they will have to try and live "oil free" for 24 hours. The purpose of the activity is to help the students become more aware of how dependent we are on oil, particulary on this beautiful little island way out in the Pacific.

Here's the bottom line: Almost all scientists agree (except the ones working for Fox news) that global climate change is happening at an outof control rate and the number one cause is human activity. The burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide. As the gas builds up in the atmosphere, it creates a greenhouse effect, causing average temperatures on Earth to rise. In a balanced system, the algae and plants would absorb carbon dioxide to produce food through photosynthesis. Unfortunately, we are producing too much carbon dioxide for the world's plants and algae to absorb.

If you goto most websites with carbon footprint calculators, they list electricity, air travel and cars. How do I list the fact that the electricity comes from the burning of diesel and heavy fuel oil. And where do I indicate that everything I buy in the store or use everyday from phone, mp3 player, computer, paper, pencil, stove, shower, etc. came from somewhere else and was shipped here on a container ship using diesel fuel. Shipping via container ship v.s. airplane has a smaller carbon footprint, but the problem is, oil is a non renewable resource. And most geologists agree that oil production has reached its peak. That means that the extraction of oil will become harder and more expensive as oil supplies deplete. Oil isn't just used for gasoline or diesel fuel. Plastics are made from oil, basketball shorts, nylon, polyester, lycra, tupperware etc. Imagine no cell phones (most of the components are made from plastic) or beach bbq's and fiestas without tupperware! Imagine if you dare, no Budweiser! Beer makers need electricity to produce their fine beverage and the can manufactures need a lot of energy to process aluminum to make cans. Most of these manufactures use hydropower because its cheaper and readily available. But the beer has to be shipped to retailers. That means trains, semi trucks, and container ships. Then the beer has to be refrigerated and even ice takes energy to make. What would the CNMI sports teams wear? How would we conduct business or school?

That's where this project begins. Try living without oil for 24 hours some time this month. My students will be trying it with their families from March 22 to March 23. Lets see how many people we can get to do this on Saipan! Think of the energy savings and the reduction in carbon being released during this month. While you are trying to live "oil free", keep a list of all the things you had to eliminate and what life was like without them. Then go through that list with your family and pick 3 things you can live without.

Maybe people will get back to their cultural roots and maybe this audit of our oil consumption will help the community begin to seriously consider and implement alternative energy options like biodiesel from coconuts and restaurants, solar, wind, and bike paths to make it safer for people to use bikes instead of cars, or public transportation, decentralized power production to allow for alternative sources on smaller more managable scale, local sustainable agriculture, insulation in schools, trees for shade and carbon dioxide absorption, enforcement of anti burning laws so people stop burning garbage, etc.

If you choose to accept this challenge, post your name, the date you plan on trying it and how many people will be doing it with you. When you are finished, I'd like to collect reflections and lists of items from people. These can be emailed to me at

Things to Eliminate
  • Anything running on electricity or batteries (no cell phones, dvds, video games, poker machines, t.v., radio, lights, aircon, etc.)
  • Anything that took energy from fossil fuels to create (ice for example)
  • Anything made from petroleum products ( plastic, nylon, spandex, lycra, etc.)
  • Driving
  • Food not from here (keep it fresh and local)
  • Clothing not woven from local fibers and made here (this is next to impossible, so try all natural like cotton)
  • Books, pencils, pens, paper etc. (all had to be shipped)
  • Kerosene lanterns, flashlights, candles, butane stoves, gas stoves, etc.
  • Your house!!! Just kidding, but you could trying camping out, making a shelter from natural materials, etc.
  • No basketball, baseball, tennis, bicycles, roller blades,soccer, etc.
  • No restaurants, bars, hotels or stores.


  • Go hang out on the beach
  • Go swim in the ocean
  • Invent a game and play it with friends using natural materials for parts
  • Make a ball from naturally occuring objects, find a stick and play stick ball
  • sing songs (no instruments)
  • Tell stories
  • Learn how to build a traditional Chamorro or Carolinian shelter or canoe
  • Learn how to fish using traditional methods
  • Cook on a fire or eat raw vegetables and fish (no fried food or rice!!! extra bonus)
  • Drink water or coconut milk instead of beer, pop or juice
  • make a garden using local seeds (save from fruits like tomatoes, cucumbers, papaya, peppers)
  • Look at the stars, create new constellations and stories to go with them
  • Make artwork out of natural materials
  • Find natural dyes and paint something
  • Find some natural clay and make pottery
  • Take a nap
  • Go for a walk
  • Look for birds or other animals


Angelo Villagomez said...

Way to keep BC non political!

Angelo Villagomez said...

I will be the first person to sign up for this.

1. Angelo Villagomez