Petroleum Katrina: Will BP and 400 Species Die for Our Sins?

Petroleum Katrina: Will BP and 400 Species Die for Our Sins?

With over 400 species at risk from the oil spill resulting from the explosion, fire and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast; the fingers have come out to point the blame.
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Will BP and 400 species die for our oily sins? Or are we to blame for the #Transocean disaster? via @Greenopolis.
Monday, May 3, 2010 - 8:39am


BP is being excoriated for espousing a culture of safety and being “beyond petroleum, only to be at the center of a deadly explosion and potentiality worst oil spill in history. Are we to blame for this disaster, or is BP? Weigh in here.

Transocean, the owner of the platform will be under close scrutiny as will the company that makes the “blowout preventer” equipment that’s supposed to plug the well in a case like this. President Obama’s plan to open more areas to offshore drilling may sink like the rig itself.

But my mother always taught me that whenever I point a finger at someone, there are 3 more pointing back at me.

What’s my role in all this? I don’t even own stock in an oil company, and make most of my electricity from sunlight, chop my own wood, and drive a fuel efficient car.

But I benefit from nearly everything that runs on or is made from petroleum in this society. I get online on my HP computer- housed in a petroleum plastic cover that cannot be easily recycled, so trace that right to the oil well, along with my highly efficient but largely plastic flat screen TV. My goods I order online arrive by US Mail, Fed Ex or UPS, all fueled by petroleum. My back up heat is a biodiesel blend- but that’s actually a mix of petroleum and biofuel. My car’s dash and many parts are petroleum based, and it took a fair amount of petroleum energy to make it, along with my “green” house, most which was shipped from lumber yards and factories. I eat as local and organic as I can, but petroleum even fuels the transport to and from my local farm. Paints, cleaners, medical supplies, the list goes on and on, even for the greenest of us.

When George W. Bush publicly states that we are addicted to oil, it’s beyond obvious. It’s not a choice- the long finger of petroleum pokes its way into nearly every aspect of our lives, even to the hearse driving us to the cemetery. Please don’t bury me in a petroleum based casket, and use horses to carry me home, I beg you.

So how can we begin to extricate ourselves from this oily web? Well understand the system and where stuff comes from for one. Do I need everything I have shipped to my house, or can I walk to my local library, borrow a tool from a neighbor; grow more in my own garden? Can I recycle as much as possible, and ask the manufacturers of the rest to take it back? I used to ship old stuff back to the manufacturer without return address, just to make the point. Then I looked at the fuel I was using to do that.

It ain’t easy, and as old JC used to say, take the timber out your own eye before removing the splinter from your neighbor’s. And there are plenty of timbers to go around, from oil companies to transportation infrastructure to manufacturers to agriculture to regulators to “big gummint”. As one of my rabbis, Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “In a free society, some are guilty but all are responsible.”  Response-Able. It doesn’t take too many videos of flaming oil rigs and oil soaked seabird to make me respond, and examine what those fingers pointing back at me are seeing. I’ll reduce what I use, recycle more- especially the stuff already made from petroleum. Use it again and again. I’ll drive even less, and switch bit by bit away from stuff that leads me back to the oil well, because my oily fingerprints are on this one, too. Pogo taught us, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” What will you do to wean yourself from more oil? is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis recycling kiosks and with curbside recycling programs.