Shame on Us

The Gulf oil spill is now two+ weeks old and still gushing more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day. The magnitude of this disaster is incomprehensible. My heart breaks when I think of the the environmental and ecological impact this is going to have. And though it’s easy to sit in front of a computer screen and point fingers, I don’t blame Transocean Ltd, Haliburton or BP nearly as much as I blame us, and our excessive American lifestyle.

We’re self-indulgent, arrogant, bottled-water guzzling, Hummer-driving egotists. Petroleum is used in virtually every aspect of our daily lives. We consume oil, not to mention all other resources, in HUGE volume, with little thought to consequence, and little respect for the planet or the other species we share it with.

Did you know that it takes approx. 17 million barrels of crude oil just to produce the bottled water we consume annually in this country? That’s 17 million barrels. And that’s not counting the transportation to bring it to the store shelves, where we’ll happily pay $2 a bottle for it. WTF?

But hey, lucky for us, we are at the top of the food chain. So who’s to stop us?

Besides, who needs coastlines anyway? Or wetlands. Or manatees…

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4 Responses to “Shame on Us”

  1. Mike
    on May 7th, 2010
    @ 6:26 am

    It’s certainly a sticky wicket, but exactly what to do is difficult at this point. Like any self-loathing heroin addict, we as a world are unable to shake the petroleum habit, even if we wanted to. As pointed out, oil is a major component in plastic production. What do we replace plastic with? Recycling only contributes a fraction of the raw material needed every year, (and in the case of glass, it’s cheaper to make new glass than recycle). Plastic is cheap. How much should a bottle of water cost? $1? $5? $10? The economy would fracture if prices on items like water, milk, food, gasoline, etc. were to skyrocket in an attempt to wean us off of oil.

    And let us not forget that the whole point of gambling with the US coastline for oil is to reduce our dependence on foreign sources. Do we risk being held hostage by OPEC or take a chance that the coastal states don’t become enveloped in sludge?

    There are no easy answers to any of these questions. There are no clear-cut responses to solve the dilemma we face between the environment and the market . Both are essential, and we can’t do without either.

  2. admin
    on May 7th, 2010
    @ 9:04 am

    This country learned nothing from the oil crisis in the 70’s Mike. Did we spend the last 35+ years developing an acceptable alternative? We had the technology to put a man on the moon in the 60’s, yet we’re still dependent on foreign oil? Or domestic oil, for that matter.

    I can think of no other species on this planet that takes more than it needs. And we have the SUV’s to prove it.

    IMO, it can’t be justified.

  3. Mike
    on May 7th, 2010
    @ 11:29 am

    I’m not disagreeing with you, but the economic impact of either giving up oil or paying through the nose for some substitute is a) political suicide, so the odds of it happening are close to zero; and b) a sacrifice that everybody thinks somebody else should make. As China (and eventually Africa) become technological powerhouses striving to catch up to the rest of the developed world in terms of consumer consumption, it will get much worse, much faster. Yet China and India have so far resisted any suggestions that they throttle back or change their ways. While the US leads the world in terms of raw material consumption, it’s not the responsibility of any single country; everybody needs to change, but few actually will (until they’re forced to).

    Personally, I’m in favour of more research spending for fusion, but since the ‘cold-fusion’ fiasco of twenty years ago, it’s been a difficult subject to bring up for serious consideration. But it would literally solve almost all of this overnight.

  4. admin
    on May 7th, 2010
    @ 12:54 pm

    And I’m not trying to be disagreeable.

    But as long as we lead the world in consumption because of our gluttonous lifestyle, then we do need to take responsibility, as a single country, and push towards change.

    I have no idea what the answer is, but I do believe that no matter what we do going forward, the Gulf will never be made whole again. And we’re responsible. We want our over-sized vehicles, our super-sized menus and our weed-free, bug-free lawns… apparently at any cost.

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