The Deepwater Horizon/BP oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is generating a lot of media attention — and a lot of public outrage.
That’s great. Oil is filthy, both on the front end (drilling) and on the back end (burning).
But there’s a fairly big disconnect between the outrage and our own role in this spill.
I have seen very little talk among the outraged about the following:
- Ours is a(n) modern, capitalist, industrial and, unfortunately, oil-based society — but it doesn’t have to reman an oil-based one (in fact, it can’t: the oil will run out!);
- As oil consumers, we are at least partially to blame for the spill; BP wouldn’t be drilling in the deep — and ecologically fragile — waters of the Gulf of Mexico if we (meaning the whole of global modern industrial society) didn’t use massive amounts of oil every day, on both an individual, and social basis (for example, according to the CIA Factbook, the U.S. consumes 19.5 million barrels of oil per day!)
In fact, I ran a poll for about two days on SolarChargedDriving.Com in which I asked “How responsible do you feel for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico”. I didn’t get a large response. Just four people responded. And only one respondent — me 😉 — indicated he feels “very responsible” for the spill. Two indicated they feel “somewhat responsible” and two indicated they feel “not very responsible”.
(If you want to add your voice, vote using the box to the right).
There would be no need to drill for oil in fragile ecosystems if more of us — and I’m obviously talking about millions, tens of millions, ideally, hundreds of millions — of us would commit ourselves to drastically reducing our oil consumption.
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It’s hard to know what each of the respondents was thinking, though I’m guessing it might have been something like this: “BP ought to be following safer drilling practices. If it had, there would have been no spill. Therefore, I don’t feel guilty because BP — not my own oil consumption — is largely to blame here.”
That’s a fairly reasonable stance. But, in my view, it fails to sufficiently make the connection between what BP — and Exxon-Mobil, Shell, etc. — are doing “out there” and our own everyday practices.
There would be no need to drill for oil in fragile ecosystems if more of us — and I’m obviously talking about millions, tens of millions, ideally, hundreds of millions of us — would commit ourselves to drastically reducing our oil consumption.
One of the best places to start: Your own driving habits.
If you’re outraged about the Gulf oil spill — and you don’t want to continue to pour money into the pockets of Big Oil (Seven of the world’s 10 largest companies are oil companies!), you can — and really ought to — take some, or all, of the following steps:
- Reduce the amount you drive (walk more, bike more, take public transportation, etc.)
- Buy a fuel efficient car and drive it efficiently (meaning don’t accelerate suddenly, don’t wait until the last second to brake, etc.)
- Better yet: Ditch your gas car for an electric car (and, of course, still drive less);
- Best yet: Ditch your gas car for an electric car and use home-grown solar electricity to partially, or fully, power it (and, of course, still drive less);
In other words, don’t just get mad, do something about your anger: Act on it.
After all, if you don’t, you’ll just feel more angry, more powerless, more helpless. And, you’ll have to direct some of that anger at yourself: That’s because every time you stick that gas nozzle into your car’s tank you’re sticking it — and yourself — into the oil spill in the Gulf and, more broadly, into the tremendous environmental degradation our oil-based society invokes every single day on the earth, and on ourselves.
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- Former Baywatch ‘babe’ Alexandra Paul advocates for EVs, solar and a greener world