Taking Responsibility for the Gulf Oil Disaster
We’re all angry and disgusted and possibly horrified and shocked to see the destruction wrought by the oil spill bespoiling the Gulf of Mexico. Witnessing incontrovertible evidence of death by petroleum has got us in the mood for persecution and punishment. The bad people who did this — British Petroleum is the acting villain in charge — must be made to pay.
You could say we’re all in trouble, and not just because our shrimp is going to cost more. We’re collectively culpable. It’s our fault. All of us, including semi-conscious environmentally considerate Hollywood progressives with backyard gardens and tankless water heaters. We all want oil; we all want cheap oil; we’re vaguley aware that there are consequences to our desires, but no amount of dead pelicans and poisoned fish is quite compelling enough to wean us from the oil teat. Our modern lives are inextricably tied to harvesting and consuming oil. We’re addicted and incurable. The collateral damage that our habit causes must be rationalized, accepted, bargained with, and, ultimately, ignored, for if we genuinely ponder the short- and long-term results of our oil appetite we can’t feel happy about our trucks and highways and bottled water and to-go-containers and a million other things. It’s better to turn away, change the channel, buy something new.
But when the source of our habit spews into the ocean like a plume of sewage, it’s hard not to feel sorry about what we’ve created. It’s hard not to acknowledge the truth: that environmental disasters aren’t ultimately a corporation’s fault. We affluent, oil-mad human beings did this; and we’ll keep doing it until something cheaper comes along.
It’s a shame. It’s shameful. It’s shame on us.