In what has been called the worst US environmental disaster in history, BP now estimates that it will take another 60 days to contain the Gulf oil well that is gushing out at a rate of about 500,000 to 800,000 gallons a day. If they turn out to be right, it means another 50 million gallons will pour into the Gulf. So by the time they contain it, as much as 80 million gallons will spill - seven times more than the 11 million gallons of crude spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989. All fingers are pointing to BP, but before you cast a stone, do what I did, take a look at how you helped in this debacle.
Even if we manage to cap the well tomorrow, the damage thus far was inflicted by 60 minutes of America’s oil consumption. Drill, Baby, Drill - for another 60 minutes worth of oil.
This is insane. We’re at peak oil and we’re going about our merry way burning up a quarter of the world’s oil. At $80 a barrel, every active oil field in the world is being depleted as fast as they can get the oil to your local gas station. Every time there’s a new discovery - there’s a depleted oil field being capped somewhere on the planet and geologists estimate that most of the oil that will ever be found on land has already been discovered. That’s why BP was out there drilling a mile down to reach the ocean floor.
You don’t have to be a tree-hugging global-warming leftist to be alarmed. Just work the numbers out for yourself and you’ll see how crazy we are. Look at it this way - BP wouldn’t have bothered to drill for that oil, if we collectively managed to do without our oil fix for 60 minutes. And we’re not talking about 60 minutes each year; we’re talking about curbing our craving for oil for 60 minutes of our life span.
So how exactly do we go about doing that? The solution is simple - consume less of everything. Look at the ways you consume oil and tell me you couldn’t have done without one hour worth of oil consumption sometime in your life. Let’s all confess to our part in this crime against the environment because it’s intellectually dishonest to just blame it all on Big Oil. Honesty demands that we own up to our part of this tragedy because we all waste energy.
Here’s my confession - feel free to write up your own.
1. I rarely use public transportation but I encourage everybody else to do so.
2. I often forget to turn the lights off when I leave a room.
3. I drive to destinations that are an easy walk.
4. I’ve purchased stuff I’ve never needed - a lot of it made of plastic - processed fossil fuel.
5. I’ve never really obsessed about tuning my car up for maximum mileage.
6. I’ve never done without a car. I’ve advised other people to give up their second car but can’t let go of my own. I’ve always had my own wheels since I was 18. In my defense, I’ve been partial to small cars but that’s mostly because I’m cheap.
7. I’ve never really turned down the thermostat in the winter - because I don't want to put on a sweater, they itch.
8. I’ve really studied up on Peak Oil and just never got around to incorporating my awareness into my daily life. I had an excuse for that but I can’t remember it now.
9. I know I’m as guilty as the next guy, but I want him to do something about the problem.
10. I’ve bitched and moaned about gasoline taxes even though they really make economic sense. They’ve cut down on gas consumption in Europe and forced Frenchmen and Italians to drive smaller cars but I don’t want the government to penalize me.
11. I know Americans consume 500% more oil than the average citizen of the planet - even though we’re self-sufficient in gas and coal not to mention our great rivers that generate hydro-electric power. I even know that nuclear technology has come a long way since the disaster at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, but it’s politically correct to shun nuclear plants.
12. I’ve been blaming my troubles on Big Oil for years even though I know they’re just trying to give me my daily fix - for a price. I know they’re like drug dealers but, when it comes to oil, I’m no better than a junkie.
Let me end by offering my sincerest apologies to the gulf fisherman and to all the living things that perished in this disaster. I know it’s too little too late. I know all my excuses are lame. But I promise that I’ll try to figure a way to reduce my energy consumption by sixty minutes. Not sixty minutes a year - not sixty minutes a lifetime - sixty minutes a day. I might even work myself up to two or three hours a day.
The other thing I can promise you is that you’ll never hear me saying “Drill, Baby, Drill.”
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