Saturday, May 29, 2010

The BP Oil Spill

The Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer season in America. People's thoughts turn to summer travel and vacations, many of them involving travel by car.

I hope that while people are taking that trip with their car, they pause to think of the BP oil well blowout and the environmental disaster that may be occuring now in the Gulf of Mexico. And don't forget the 11 lives that were lost when the oil rig exploded.

This is just a small part of the cost that is being paid for America's continuing addiction to oil, because of the lifestyle it chooses (suburban living where a vehicle is a necessity).

Here in the United States, we like to "outsource" the extraction of oil supply to anyone but ourselves. Americans don't particularly want to see the results of our own demand for liquid fuels, the pull from our 300 million vehicles and our four million miles of highway.

In fact, we get pissed off when some other nation even dares to begin to emulate our lifestyle. "How dare China and those other emerging countries begin to buy cars and use oil...the oil is all ours..."

Americans especially prefer that someone else - some no-name foreign country far away - despoil their own landscape and environment, so that they can send us oil. "And it better be cheap oil too!"

The United States has done quite a good job over the past several decades to make sure that's happened. Just look at the amount of oil we've imported from the Mideast, Africa, Canada and Mexico - it has skyrocketed.

This background is helpful in framing the BP well blowout at a depth of 5000 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. The reality of oil demand has now touched home. In fact, it is washing up on our shoreline.

And don't look for a solution to America's oil problem coming out of Washington DC any time soon. The politicians have been trying only token solutions - which sound good, but do nothing - for the last 40 years.

Just look at the so-called stimulus package which set aside $8 billion for high-speed rail systems. What a joke! We'd need at least $800 billion to fully restore the rail system in this country. If you want to see a country building a nationwide high-speed rail system, look no further than what China is doing.

America and its politicians need to confront the oil issue on a time and money scale that will be meaningful, not a token response - "Let's ban offshore drilling." I wouldn't hold my breath, however.

1 comment:

  1. We do need to reduce our dependence on oil. The oil shortages of the '70s should have spurred us towards 150mpg cars, electric cars, high speed rail, etc. by 2010, not drill baby drill. A change towards alternative energy will not happen overnight, it needs to be a serious long term investment. That being said, since people are going to travel this summer anyway, I hope they will not for get the people who are suffering economically in the Gulf Coast despite not having any oil on their coasts as of yet. Not everything has to be about the beach, and there will be some sweet travel deals to be had for those brave enough to visit: