06 June 2010
From the Camp Fire: What Price Pelican
WE, NOT BP, ARE RESPONSIBLE
Yes, some human greed and error within British Petroleum played a role in this disaster. But from the vantage point of why we are getting our fuel from 20,000 feet below the oceans surface in the first place, BP, Transocean, Cameron etc. play very small roles. Everyone in the developed world is partially responsible for whats happening in the Gulf because of our insatiable demand for more (energy, stuff, experiences, growth). It is the fault of a society so dependent on liquid yeyo that we now have to dig deeper, farther and in more environmentally sensitive areas with each passing year.
The oil industry, just like the computer industry or the food industry, has the best and the brightest turning natural resources into products that people buy and in doing so turn a profit. The fact that the product that BP (and others) procures is equivalent to societal pixie dust, with one barrel of oil having 5,700,000 BTU (the amount of energy/work it would take me several years to generate) is not their fault. They are providing a service that we want. The problem is that we have taken this service, all that in entails, and the power that it offers, for granted. The Beverly Hillbilly-just-under-the-surface yeyo is gone and it may require some ecological shock and awe to alert us to this fact.
If you are a vegetarian, off the gridder who walks everywhere and doesn’t buy anything via corporations, then YOU have the ability/right to complain about your share of the commons that is being impacted by this tragedy. Everyone else, and some more than others, bears responsiblity for this situation and as such shouldn't only be casting stones at BP. And the United States, who uses 1 of every 4 barrels of oil produced worldwide, is more responsible than anyone else. Yes BP screwed up. But I think our society should understand that as the fossil energy frontier continues to close, environmental complications are going to increase from the search for the lower quality fossil fuel crumbs. The most unacknowledged point in our debt-laden, over-consumptive culture of entitlement is that our consumption relative to what is sustainable is too high not by 10 or 15% but by a factor of 4 or 5.