Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Am To Blame For The Gulf Oil Spill

As hurricane season begins to effect the Gulf of Mexico, efforts to contain the seemingly endless spill of oil seems likely to once again face setbacks. Though 30,000 souls and 6,000 ships are working to control the mess as the Macondo Oil Prospect voids its bowels into the waters of the Gulf, those efforts will have to be temporarily abandoned if storms threaten. Which they almost certainly will.

The disaster is now 16 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill, making it far and away the worst ecological mess ever to impact the United States. And as everyone involved seems to sense at a gut level, it isn't just not over. It's going to get worse.

It's blame time, of course. Someone has to be to blame in this godawful fustercluck.

Conservatives blame Obama because he, well, he's Obama. Liberals blame BP and the whole corporate profit thing, 'cause that's what they do. Some folks call for boycotts of BP, although how that's going to help them maintain solvency so they can deal with the mess they made is beyond me. BP blames the government, or subcontractors, or just bad mojo.

What no one seems to be doing is taking responsibility for the mess. So I'll say it.

I am responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf.

Yeah, I have nothing directly to do with the oil industry. I also don't use a ton of fuel. Our Scion was an efficient little econocube. Our new Prius gets over 50 mpg. My motorcycle gets close to 60 mpg. But we have an old minivan that scrambles to get 19 mpg in the combined cycle. I drive every single day. I totally rely on the combustion of petroleum to get around and to maintain the patterns of my life.

As such, I am a part of America's insatiable demand for fuel. I make it economically feasible for companies to keep pushing the outer envelope of engineering, drilling deeper and deeper in more and more inhospitable environments. The Macondo oil prospect, which the Deepwater Horizon was trying to tap, contains a total of 50 million barrels of oil. That seems like a lot, particularly as we consider what two point one billion gallons of crude will look like when it washes up on the shores of Louisiana and Texas and Florida.

Until you consider that we Americans burn that much fuel in less than three days. Every seventy-two hours, we put that amount of gas in our cars and burn it and pour what remains into the atmosphere. I am a part of that.

When I stand before my Maker on the Day of Judgement, and I'm asked what kind of job I did caring for creation, I'm not fool enough to think I'm going to be able to weasel my way out of my own share of this mess.

So now you know who to blame.

Feel better?


  1. I, on the other hand, have been repeatedly forced into self-destructive, ouroboros consumerism by malicious forces beyond my control.

    But when I consider that the primary builders of roads, subsidizers of industry, regulators of interstate commerce, and zoners of property are all "from the government" and "here to help" us, it's no wonder that we're so dependent on harmful hydrocarbon products.

    How much gas would we save if our neighbor's were allowed to sell produce grown in their backyards without completing reams of legal paperwork? What if we could freely operate schools and churches out of our homes--saving unnecessary travel, land use, and building overhead? And what would life look like if we didn't have to commute from our peaceful suburban homes to a soul-damaging job in a frenetic, urban environment?

    My axiom here is: If you pave it, they will drive. Seems to me there was a lot of paving goin' on in the not-so-distant past. Remind me now... was it Esso or BP paving all those roads, or was it someone else?

    Regardless, if the book of Revelation is in any way predictive of future events, I think our gentle abuse of the earth will be a mere drop in the bucket.

  2. @ newworld: Hmmm. So you're saying this is all Eisenhower's fault?

  3. "We didn't start the fire..."

  4. You two ever read Wendell Berry? When I read your comment, newworldview, I was immediately reminded of his writing.

    Wendell Berry