In 1956 Dr. M. King Hubbert first publicized the concept of peak oil. Part of the theory is that once we obliterate the easy-to-reach oil reserves, the “low-hanging fruit,” we have to develop even more environmentally unfriendly, invasive and risky methods of obtaining oil. Since then we’ve put a man on the moon, brought down the Berlin Wall, and seen further beyond our solar system and deeper into our own planet than ever before. What humanity can learn and achieve seem limitless. Yet what humanity can forget and destroy also seem limitless.
We Americans assume that our standards for industry are the most stringent in the world (I love you America, but we are a presumptuous culture; MLB’s “WORLD Series,” for example). True, the concern is there, but there is a lack of scrutiny on all levels. Our own Minerals Management Service as recently as November 2009 argued that current safeguards were “practically foolproof.” I find the word “practically” to be nauseating given the current state of affairs in the Gulf of Mexico. Brash statements like these fly in the face of knowledge that oil rig “blowouts always happen no matter how far technology and training advance,” and that there are no foolproof safeguards to stop them. (source: NY Times) This conclusion is taken from a 2005 study by Texas A&M engineer Jerome Schubert, which was financed by BP! Now I really think I’m gonna hurl.
What can we do? Clearly we need more critical examination of drilling methods and safeguards by our government. And of course the best thing would be to move towards clean, sustainable and renewable energy sources overall. But as long as politicians have pockets, archaic energy companies will keep stuffing them with bills, so we can’t hold our collective breath for the government to rescue our planet. And as individuals we can’t always walk or bike, and most cities don’t have great public transportation. So what can we do? Boycotting BP seems at least a good start:
I was an auditor for about a year after college (turns out the hours are actually longer as a musician). As a young office drone, I had the opportunity to speak with CFO’s and controllers for some large companies in various industries. They were ordinary people – not cold heartless capitalists as we often like to envision these sorts of folks. They had pictures of their families on their desks, enjoyed a laugh, and were constantly looking forward to the end of the work day like the rest of us. However, in accounting for a public company they have a different motivation: the bottom line. It’s their fucking God, and its commandments make no mention of “Honor thy Earth” or “keep holy the planet.” As Jeffery Short at Oceana says, “ultimately it’s an investment challenge. How much money are you willing to spend on an event that happens infrequently?” (NY Times)
So again, what can we do? We CAN make an example of BP by passing up their gas stations, as well as: Castrol, Arco, Aral, am/pm, Amoco, and Wild Bean Cafe. I know, it’s tough. Yesterday I passed 3 BP stations before finding an alternative. Today… I’m walking.
Also, here’s a Facebook group you can join to spread the word against BP and another against offshore drilling in general. Yes, it seems trivial but these sorts of things might actually be used for good purpose (not just to let your friends know how you feel about Avatar).