Saturday, May 29, 2010


It's time that I say a thing or two about the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

People's views vary regarding whose responsibility the oil spill is. I can understand that. Some people blame British Petroleum (BP) because it was technically they who were drilling for oil where the leak occurred. Others blame Transocean (the drilling contractor) and/or Haliburton. (How can people NOT blame Haliburton? It's too much fun to blame them for everything!) Still others blame the federal government (the EPA, perhaps?) for allowing this to happen in the first place. Others are angry directly at President Obama for not doing more. (Seriously, though, how can you expect him to have the time to deal with all of this in addition to the many other things on his plate right now? It's hard enough trying to get Arlen Specter re-elected!) Everyone involved in this debacle takes turns pointing a finger at someone else. It's pretty fun to watch.

What is NOT fun to watch, however, is the collection of images of birds who are becoming covered in oil simply by trying to live in their wetlands. The sticky oil makes it difficult, if not impossible, for them to fly. The fish that they eat are dying. That means less food for them. If you want a human equivalent to this, imaging going to your local supermarket to find nearly all of the shelves empty. That is what is gradually happening to these birds as time progresses.

It's not just the wildlife who are suffering from this oil spill. People are, too. Fishing for shrimp and other fish is how many fishermen and fisherwomen along the Gulf coast make a living. For them, no fish means no money. The resulting scarcity of fish will also drive up fish prices throughout the United States (and perhaps elsewhere, too). The fish that people will be able to buy might not be entirely safe. Because fish are an excellent source of things such as omega-3 fatty acids, a lack of fish in our diet may mean some holes in our nutrition.

Regardless of whose fault this oil spill is, we need to recognize the urgency of this situation. I think many people who don't live along the Gulf simply don't understand how catastrophic this whole thing has been. To many, this is just as bad as Hurricane Katrina--if not worse. Some are prediciting it could take years to recover from this oil spill.

Instead of playing "The Blame Game," how about focusing on cleaning up the area in the most efficient way possible? Some people, such as actor Kevin Costner, have made very promising proposals about ways we could do that. Still others are presenting their solutions on YouTube, such as moving some straw around in the oily water.

But before we clean up the oil, how about STOPPING THE OIL FROM COMING OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE! There's still oil spilling out, folks! And while BP has tried many things so far, we seem still to have been unable completely to shut the flow down!

Of course, the ultimate question is, do we even still need oil? We live in a world where people have designed solar panels, wind turbines, and various other devices that we can use to harness energy that we need to get things done in everyday life, to power electricity and to power our vehicles. If we really wanted to, we likely could choose to live our lives without any oil at all.

It seems ironic that BP, which recently had ads claiming that they were "Beyond Petroleum," has become a symbol of just how much we really AREN'T beyond petroleum yet in this country. Until we are, there is no real guarantee that a disaster like this won't happen again.

This Memorial Day, in addition to the fallen veterans that we honor, let us honor those animals who did not ask for oil, but whose lives we have destroyed in our quest for oil--oil that we may not even need after all.

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