My girlfriend and I took the scenic Highway 101 when driving down to L.A. last weekend, passing through such scenic cities as San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara.
Ah, Santa Barbara, with its offshore drilling rigs hanging in the coastal haze. No doubt VP nominee Sarah Palin, 11th district challenger Dean Andal, and other proponents of offshore oil exploration find them beautiful.
I will admit, there is a certain functional appeal to the rigs, knowing that they're feuling my car as it flies down the Great California Highway. But it is not a natural beauty. It is one of utility, and such sights change how we think of our world.
It tells us that our surroundings are there to be exploited rather than viewed with awe and wonder. That a sweeping vista can be bought and sold. That there is a price tag on the priceless.
But there are some things that are beyond value.
A cup of coffee with a friend. A warm place to sleep. A swath of untrammeled wilderness. An appreciation for the planet not based solely on how its resources can be extracted to increase worldly wealth.
You can't drill for that.