My Part Of The BP Oil Disaster

There’s so much information about the BP oil disaster! The web cams, of course. Sites like Audubon Magazine have a category called oil spill which will break your heart. Google ran Gulf Coast Oil Leak: What Are Your Suggestions? which so far has had 15,835 people have submitted 7,468 suggestions and you can read them, vote on them and leave your own.

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly bear to look at pictures of oil drowned birds and turtles, and hear of whales feeding oil drenched plankton. The plight of the fishermen, oil workers, restaurant owners and the families of the 11 who died in the explosion plus those who are most likely being poisoned in the cleanup effort fills me with grief and despair.

It’s so easy to point fingers. BP cut corners, the regulators failed in their jobs – all true, but only part of the picture.

For I have my part in this continuing tragedy. My computer and it’s peripherals are mostly unsustainable plastic, generated using oil in ways I don’t understand. In fact, the amount of plastic in my life blows me away.

If my gas and electric company doesn’t use coal, and I don’t think it does, it’s not because of virtue, but costs. I cook with “natural” gas, drilled from wells not unlike oil wells and transported thousands of miles under pressure through pipes I know little about. My car runs on gasoline distilled perhaps from the oil in the very well that is trashing the gulf and even though I work not to drive one or two days a week, I’m still not willing to only walk or ride bikes. And buses take too long, or so I say.

My fury at myself and others grows because I remember when President Carter set the stage to solve our oil addiction way back in 1977. In 1979 he installed solar panels on the White House. I also remember when, in 1986 President Reagan took them down – apparently because we were in a period of low oil prices.

You know what, I didn’t protest Reagan’s move even though I thought it was awful. Like so many, I’ve recycled a bit, reduced some of my purchasing and my driving, but I’m as locked into our oil addiction as any BP executive is.

As an individual I can only do a tiny bit. If, however, we were to really join hands and insist on alternative energy and conservation while we were getting there, the human species and many more might have a chance on this planet.

I’m looking for a place to sign up. Do you know of one?

Anne Wayman


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