Deep Within the Well.
I’m a hypocrite. I admit it.
I’ve been watching and listening to the commentary on BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and I can’t help but ask, aren’t we pointing our collective fingers in the wrong direction?
Yes, BP must be held financially accountable for creating this latest environmental disaster. If they survive this debacle as a viable corporate entity they will deservedly face heavy fines in addition to paying for the clean-up. Hopefully the entire off shore drilling industry will now be subjected to stricter safety standards.
It’s easy to be angry with BP, but that doesn’t attack the root of the problem. Don’t we all share in the blame for this catastrophic event with our continued excessive use of oil? While none of us caused this spill, we haven’t curbed our appetite for all things fueled by petrol either.
It boggles my mind when I think about the exponential growth of my own energy consumption. I am guilty. With every keystroke of this computer, every piece of clothing I wear, every meal I consume, every picture I shoot, all the music I listen to, and every iPhone app I download, I’m consuming oil. I’m just one of nearly 7 billion people in the world using non-renewable resources everyday, and our scales are out of balance.
The impact of the US economic recession showed that the world is more interdependent then ever before. George H. Bush’s “New World Order,” is upon us, and its economic engine is driven by expansion. We need to switch out this business model in favor of one based upon sustainability, and there’s no time to waste.
For me, any meaningful change is best achieved by taking baby steps. Living in Kansas City, where there is no light rail system, the majority of commuters rely on the car for all their transportation. When gas prices began spiking three years ago, I modified my driving habits. Previously I gave little thought to running an errand, grabbing a meal, or seeing a movie. Then I began thinking about the environmental and financial ramifications of my actions. Those random, yet frequent trips have now been replaced with better planned activities, purchases, and driving routes. Yes, I’m still using oil, but I am using less of it.
Americans should consider riding bikes en masse. The benefits could be far reaching. Less oil would be consumed, air pollution would decline, streets would be quieter, and we’d all enjoy healthier bodies. Also, a healthier body equals a healthier mind. The bike has a way of neutralizing the angst of driving, probably due to being in oxygen debt while riding most of the time. Another value added benefit: it’s awfully difficult to email, text, or talk on your cell while you’re cycling down the road. With fewer accidents and better living, one could hope our car, health, and life insurance rates would drop accordingly as well.
I came to a proverbial T in the road (this happens regularly) halfway through my morning ride today. To the left was a nice moderate flat, to the right was a bear of a hill to climb. Both routes lead me home. I really wanted to turn left, but I went right knowing the hill is better for me in the long run. The future is challenging all of us to sacrifice many of our comforts and live more modestly. It’s difficult when there is no clear path, no infallible answers to tough questions. I hope to have the necessary discipline and fortitude moving forward through this sea of constant change laying ahead of us.
The BP spill caused me to look deep within my personal well, and ask, “What more can I do to decrease my dependence on oil?” How about you?
Addendum 6/14 – This op-ed by Friedman in the June 11th edition of the NY Times carries essentially the same message: