For the past four weeks I have been thinking about whether or not I should write about the ginormous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I was initially inclined to keep my mouth shut and not say anything. I tend (this is an understatement) to be non-combative and non-confrontational by nature and usually stray from topics that might result in any sort of heated discussion. But, I am opinionated and have been known to occasionally run my mouth and end up with a foot stuck in it. I remain steadfast in my beliefs and views, I just hate weathering the storm.
Well, I can’t keep my mouth shut or finger tips away from the keyboard any longer…
The situation off the Gulf Coast is an atrocity. Since the explosion happened on April 20th there has been oil spewing into our oceans. BP estimates that 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) are gushing each day into the ocean, but independent researchers estimate the number is closer to 70,000 barrels (almost 3 million gallons).
Whatever the number… It’s hundreds of thousands of gallons of a highly toxic, environmentally destructive substance being pumped into our ecosystem.
There is no excuse.
The moral barometer of humanity can overlook the finger pointed excuses that BP has alleged and the thousands of jobs that BP supplies (my husband and multiple family members included – oh, how I wish I could type that in super small print), but we cannot turn our backs on the environmental impact that this spill is causing. Or, the hand that each of us has in the mess.
I cannot fathom the kind of damage that this volume of toxin does to an ecosytem. And, the valve isn’t going to be shut off anytime soon. The end is not near.
You and I are not responsible for the spill, but I accept an individual responsibility for my dependence on the consumable need that BP was fulfilling. As a nation, we live in a symbiotic relationship with the petroleum industry that borders on parasitism. It is part of our every move and decision. Our cupboards are lined one on top of the other with plastic packaging and products. Everything is made of this petroleum derived material. The alternatives exist, but the industry standard is plastic. And, let’s talk transportation – the average meal that an American eats has traveled over 1,500 miles. The food industry uses one-fifth of the nation’s petroleum. The average family vehicle on the road gets twenty miles to the gallon. In reality, we as a nation are using oil MUCH faster than the busted pump in the Gulf of Mexico can spew it out.
Part of this project has been to reduce my family’s reliance on petroleum – both in transportation and it’s hidden household uses. I have no fear that my personal choice to switch to recycled glass packaging and paper products will bankrupt the oil industry and put my family out of work. After all, I am only the fraction of pennies in the bucket. But, I can make a statement. I can be an unassuming rebel rouser who supports local, drives a hybrid, focuses primarily on recycled products, heats the house with an environmentally friendly wood stove and hangs clothes to dry on the line.
These are my banner statements and my weak dab to clean up the dependency we have on oil.
I am one, but we are many. Together we can make the statement that is bold and big and aims for the jugular. Small shifts and tidal nuances add up to life changing movements.