I Am Responsible For the Gulf Oil Spill

Repeat after me : I am responsible for the gulf oil spill. I drive to work every day in my own motor vehicle. Even if I am not the sole occupant of my vehicle, it still consumes a considerable amount of fossil fuel. Even if it is a hybrid, it still consumes a considerable amount of fossil fuel. I use my motor vehicle regularly to run errands for which I could easily walk. I heat my home with oil, or natural gas, or propane, or electricity that is produced with these or other fossil fuels like coal. I purchase goods and services that were made far away from where I live, and need to be shipped great distances to reach me, consuming a considerable amount of fossil fuel. Heck, most of the time I do not even bother to check where the things are made, which I buy. I fly in an airplane once a year or more. I engage in recreational activities which frivilously waste fossil fuel. I know that alternative electricity providers like Bullfrog Power exist, and are available to me, but I have never investigated them. Or have investigated them, and deemed them "too costly". I have no idea where my food comes from. I do not make an effort to purchase organic foods, and so I end up eating food which was produced with chemical fertilizers which are made from fossil fuels. I regularly consume beverages from single-use plastic bottles, which are made from fossil fuels. I often do not recycle these bottles. Even if I do recycle these bottles, I am still contributing significantly to the consumption of the fossil fuels from which they are made, since the beverage companies largely do not use recycled plastic to produce them.

My retirement savings and pension funds are managed by someone else, like a financial advisor, or my employer's pension plan, and I really do not care where that money is invested as long as there is enough of it in the end for me to retire. Or, I do care where that money is invested, but there is nothing I can do about it anyway. Nonetheless, I have never once looked to see where that money was invested. And even if I have looked, I have never even so much as written a letter to the portfolio managers to express my concern that it be invested in green initiatives. And I have never discussed the matter with coworkers, to try to make them care. Or, I make my own investment decisions, but they are made solely according to what will make me the most money, because money is all that really matters in the end. Because my personal future is more important than the planet's.

I am outraged by the oil spill, yet I seem to have little legitimate grounds for this outrage, because as it turns out, I am a part of the problem, and not a part of the solution. I rant and rave that cost is no object when it comes to putting safeguards into place to prevent oil spills like this, yet my actions show that I will gladly save a penny from my own pocket any chance I get, even if it contributes to the over-consumption of fossil fuels. I am not willing to curtail activities which I enjoy, to save on fossil fuel consumption. My actions speak louder than my words on this matter. I now realise that this oil was spilled because I was creating demand for it to be consumed. I now realise that the more of these items which are true for me, the less valid my outrage really is. I now know the meaning of the phrase "crocodile tears".


some further comments

Something I did not mention above but it struck me last night after writing this - I was just too lazy to get out of bed (a second time) to come down and edit what I'd already written. A very important thing that everyone needs to do is lobby politicians for change, and VOTE with this in mind. It is so much easier for individuals to do their part, when there is legislation supporting them. The lack of this legislation does not dissolve our responsibility in the matter, of course.

Here in Canada we are in a bit of an odd situation because we have a very huge vested interest in oil as a means to make us wealthy and support the social programs that we value so strongly. A friend of mine on facebook pointed out that Germany is currently on track to eliminate oil within 25 years, if they continue their current path of alternate energy - mainly wind power. They of course have a vested interest in this since they have on tiny fossil fuel deposits. We have an anti-incentive with our massive deposits. So summoning the political will to tackle this problem is almost impossible. But honestly, it is my view that none of the 3 mainline parties are in a position to tackle the underlying problem here. The problem goes deep - and in my view centers around our basic economic system which puts money before everything else in everything we do, and none of the 3 mainline parties are prepared to do anything about that. The Greens are the only ones I know talking about fundamental change in this area.

Another thing I've been thinking about given the spill, is that suddenly the oil sands do not seem to dirty. Yes, their massive ecological destruction is well documented. But it is also stationary, well-contained, and known in advance. There are no surprises (that I know of)

We ARE all responsible...

I am responsible for the Gulf oil spill. Even though I walk the 2km to, and home from, work, every day, all year long. My family vehicle is gasoline powered, but sized appropriately for our uses. My wife drives, twice daily, to and from the commuter train station. We regularly walk to run errands, even to places where it might be quicker and easier to drive. I heat my home with natural gas, though we recently stucco'd the outside, and will put on a sweater, a 2nd pair of socks or slippers before turning the heat on, or up. I purchase goods from local vendors and producers whenever I can find them, and will delay purchase, or go out of my way to get them. I've flown in a Cessna airplane once in my life, and been towed up by a Cessna in a fixed-wing glider once. If you count brewing beer as recreational and frivolous, I do use propane to run the brewery, though there are plans in the works to convert to electric down the road. I know of Bullfrog Power, and have investigated them, but have not (yet) made the choice to switch providers. I shop at my local farmer's market, and specifically choose to purchase from local organic meat, vegetable and fruit farmers, rather than just resellers who own booths. I never purchase single-use plastic bottles, though my pregnant wife does enjoy some juice products - these containers are re-used for something else, then recycled when they become damaged or un-cleanable.

My retirement savings are managed by my financial advisor wife, and are steadily being updated to ensure investments are being made in socially, environmentally and personally appropriate avenues. I have discussed these perspectives with my co-worker, though it fell on deaf ears (he took his car to the track on the weekend, for example).

I am outraged by the oil spill, and even though I do more than most, I still do not have a strong basis for my indignation. We are all part of the problem. I do believe that cost should be no object when it comes to preventative measures, and my actions do show that I will spend more money to make choices that improve the quality of life for myself, my family-in-the-works, and the world at large. I have curtailed some of my enjoyed activities over time to save on fossil fuel consumption, though I still have other options for elimination or reassessment. My actions speak as loudly, though perhaps not always as clearly, as my words on this matter. I have realized from the beginning of this current oil spill that we are all at fault for creating a wholly unreasonable and unnecessary demand.