Monday, May 3, 2010

Spill Baby Spill

Having recently spent several weeks along the Gulf Coast stretching from New Orleans and through Pensacola, and then along the “Forgotten Coast” of the Florida Panhandle near Apalachicola, we are acutely aware of not only the natural beauty of the area, but also the fragile nature of the ecosystems there. Already damaged by the cumulative effects of mankind and the back to back damage from a series of devastating hurricanes, this area is now faced with a challenge beyond our imagination. Having experienced first hand the effects of an oil spill in an area not nearly as fragile or teeming with wildlife, I can only imagine what the long-term effects of this disaster are going to be.

With that said, I want to apologize for this disaster because it is entirely my fault. Yes, BP and Transocean are responsible for the failure of the equipment, and yes, our Government is responsible for the failure to regulate those responsible for the equipment, but in the end I am responsible for my insatiable appetite for oil that caused all this to begin with. I am not a big oil user by any means, so even more responsible, and soon to be crying for help are the fishing fleets that rely on big diesel motors to ply the waters and harvest the fish that will soon be dying by the millions. The day they stop using oil to power their boats is the day I will feel that they should be compensated for the losses they will suffer from this. The truth is none of us are innocent, and once again I include myself with my solar powered home and all my good intentions in this statement. I still drive a truck, I still have more products than I care to think of that are made from oil and I am still a major part of the problem.

So we can cry, and we can point fingers, but in the end there is only one culprit. You, me, and the horse (power) we rode in on. I don’t care how “green" you tell me you are, and I spend a great deal of time telling others how “green” I am. MEA CULPA. I am guilty, you are guilty, and now we will collectively pay the price. The government has said that BP will be responsible for all the costs associated with this spill. I know the birds and fish and turtles and all the other wildlife that teems along these shores are looking forward to receiving their first check from them.

I am not an oil spill expert, but I am smart enough to read between the lines of what our government and the scientists are telling us to realize that this is a disaster of epic proportions, and one that will hasten the tipping point for total global ecological disaster by a magnitude that will not be understood for years or even generations to come. President Obama, bowing to pressure from the Republicans, and desperate to find any other solution to our addiction to oil than actually kicking the habit recently proposed (much to my absolute shock and horror) an increase in offshore drilling to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

There is only one dependence that can be reduced that will help in the end, and that is the dependence on oil and a high carbon footprint lifestyle. Drill Baby Drill only invites Spill Baby Spill, no matter who is in charge. Developing carbon free, renewable sources of energy on a scale equal to or surpassing the nuclear arms or race to the moon may be the only answer that will actually produce any results. So from the car we drive, to the lights in our house, to the plastic bags for our groceries, and a thousand other products we use everyday that we don’t even know are made from oil, like our food, we must all change our ways.


  1. Well, this was one of my blogs I looked forward to reading, but after reading your thoughts on the oil spill and blaming innocent people, yes INNOCENT FISHERMAN! for such a catastrophic man made disaster I now will move on. Clearly you have your opinion, and this is your Blog, but you crossed the line of blaming and pointing the finger at the wrong people. Shame on you.
    You have taken "GREEN THINKING" to a
    embarrassing place with this way of

  2. So very true, John. Great post.

    Sadly, though, it'll take more than this environmental disaster to change our ways. Already we can see BP trying to put the best possible spin on things and to look for ways to lessen their financial responsibility.

    The environment just won't be enough to make us change our ways until we run out of oil, unless we begin to tax petroleum products at a high enough rate to force a change in our behavior.


  3. Jeff,

    I hope you will come back to the blog at least once to see that I have both published and responded to your comments. I knew this was going to get people emotional because this is a disaster for all of us. As the author of the blog, it is my job to make sure people understand what I am saying and perhaps in this case I have not done so. I thought I was being very clear that I’m not blaming anyone in particular, but rather all of us in general. I was careful to blame myself first, because that is truly the only person I can really change. Just like the fisherman, there will be many victims from this spill, but none of its human victims can truly claim to be innocent. Only the wildlife that lies in its path can make that claim.

    But please don’t think that I am blaming the fisherman any more than I am blaming myself. We are all just paying the true price of oil. The fisherman will lose their livelihood, we will pay higher prices for gas and seafood, and all of us will suffer the consequences of an eco-disaster along the gulf coast. BP, while certainly guilty, only responds to the demand for oil. Like any good capitalist, they drill in the gulf because we demand oil. Believe me, if there was no demand for oil, no one would drill there. BP also makes solar panels, so if the demand for solar panels were to surpass the demand for oil, they would make more solar panels!

    BP should and hopefully will pay a price for this disaster. But there is no price you can pay for the destruction of the environment. And even if they pay the fishing industry, where do the victims stop? How about the RV Park, T-Shirt Shop, Deli, Gas Station, Restaurant, Bar, Laundromat, the list goes on and on, down the road that no longer sees the tourist business it once saw? I would LOVE to see BP pay all these people as well, but I guarantee you that after a 20 year battle to settle the Exxon Valdez spill, it ain’t gonna happen!

    I never thought that everyone who reads my blog would agree with me, in fact I hoped that they often would not and would say so in their comments! Unless you represent the fishing industry and are simply doing some RSS blog feed spin control, then clearly if you stop reading and commenting now, after only one potential disagreement, then this conversation ends prematurely. I hope you will reread the blog entry and with this explanation you will see more clearly what I was trying to say. If you still disagree, keep the conversation open! I appreciate your comments either way.


  4. Sad but true, John. I think you "spoke" clearly and I take my stance among the guilty: eating my fish (caught from the wonderful fishermen that make eating it convenient), driving or flying my vehicles, forget my reusable grocery bags in the CAR more often than I care to admit, etc.

    I agree that the more we pay attention to our actions, the better chance we have at changing them.

    Power to the Peeps! . . . Now, let's use it.

  5. Well I thought I would come back and see what you might say, Im glad you responded to my answer. I just think your pointing the finger at anyone other than the oil company's for something this devastating is extreme. Its like saying I hope a tornado wipes out all the farmers fields because they use diesel tractors, there is a fine line and I think you sort of crossed it. There must be change and massive regulations put in place for something as big as this oil spill, I could go on and on, but I think we both feel the same way and I agree with some of what you are saying, but pointing the finger at the little guy right out of the gate will get no results. The big boys need to be taught a lesson this time, just look at the mess that they have made. Jeff

  6. Jeff- Thanks for checking back. As I said hopefully this is a forum where we can discuss our different opinions, yet I don’t believe our opinions are too far apart on this one. Yes, the oil companies are responsible for this disaster just as our government is for a lack of enforcement or regulation. However, our insatiable appetite for oil is what drives these companies to do this “extreme” drilling, one mile deep in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, or stripping Canada’s forests to extract oil from sand, a process that actually uses more energy than it produces! My point was and remains, that until the little guy (us) changes his ways, the big boys will continue to drill at the peril of our planet. So yes, let’s teach them a lesson, but hopefully we will learn one too!

  7. May I suggest that people read Hot, Flat, and Crowded:Why We Need A Green Revolution And How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman. And make your voices heard! Call or write your senators and representatives and demand they support clean energy!! Our lives and the lives of generations to come depend on us being brave enough and smart enough to make real changes. WE can do it!

    Thank you John, for the excellent blog, and for doing what you do!