On July 19, the Associated Press published the story, “Dead penguins wash ashore in Brazil.” The story talks about 400 penguins that were found dead on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro over the last two months. The superintendent for the state coastal protection and environment agency said the number was extraordinarily high. A local veterinarian said he believed overfishing had forced the penguins to swim farther from shore to find fish to eat, making them vulnerable to strong ocean currents.

While a medical professional will have the upper hand on that particular issue, what is happening in Antarctica is clear evidence of how our decisions are messing up the global environment.

And the survival of penguins is a direct indicator of how we are harming it.

In Antarctica, penguins need the temperature to stay within particular levels to survive. The hotter it gets, the more the penguins have to move inland, and some breeds just die out. Although thousands of penguins still flock to the shoreline, many more penguins have moved farther away from the shoreline to stay cool and some penguins are, in fact, dying.

Although the vet in the AP story reported that the reason for the rise in dead penguins was overfishing, it will only be a matter of time once the vets say that the penguins are dying because Antarctica has become too warm.

Although Venturans are not privy to these indicators, rising sea levels, droughts, record temperatures and unusual storms are not something we should continue to ignore for the sake of cheaper gas.

CO2 emissions from vehicles account for 94-95 percent of the greenhouse gas, which has been a great contributor to global warming, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Drive more, more pollutants and a few hundreds years, Ventura’s shoreline will disappear. Instead of beach front property, we will have water front property.

Unfortunately, our country’s leader, Mr. Bush, thinks only in dollar and cents. By lifting the ban on offshore drilling, he is advocating our codependency on oil. If our president says it is OK, then so should we?

Littering Ventura’s horizon with oil platforms won’t do us any good in the long run. To be quite honest, no one seems to know when these platforms would be built or how much gas prices will be affected. Everything is based purely on speculation.

The situation we are in is dire, undoubtedly. We have trillions of dollars invested in our vehicles and depend on them to make life manageable. And for some people, vehicles are the key to survival. We can’t afford gas as it is, so we might as well drill more in hopes that prices will either stay right where they are or crossing our fingers hopefully they will go down.

But they won’t go down. We will keep having more children, we will have teenagers who will want cars, our population will continue to grow and the necessity of having a vehicle will also continue to grow. Therefore, more demand equals higher prices. We can’t kid ourselves about that.

More drilling is only a small bandage on an overwhelming problem.

What about that new car that runs off water?

Zero-emissions and it only needs good ol’ H2O to run.

At this point in the game to find the best alternative energy source, there must be a way to convert our engines from gas to hydrogen. If some of our locals are already converting their engines to use bio-diesel, then there has to be hope we can convert again.

Imagine if the owners of the oil companies actually poured their profits into creating an invention that could do that. Because we are so technologically advanced, it’s hard to believe such an invention doesn’t already exist. Zero emissions, cleaner air and a clear horizon that just won’t end due to no smog. Wouldn’t our inland communities be happy?

Evolving away from oil dependency isn’t about high prices; this is about our survival. This is about preventing catastrophic hurricanes like Katrina; this is about not spurring on longer drought seasons in California; this is about not burning up the planet because we need to drive our cars.

But most importantly, this is about penguins. As soon as the penguins die off, we have gone past the point of no return. Let’s resolve to put our resources into alternative energy. We live in one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Let’s walk, let’s ride the bus, let’s get on our bike. But most all, let’s stop making such dire contributions to our environment before we start seeing penguins wash up on our shore.