11 July 2010

Learning from Deepwater Horizon Disaster

We won't change overnight - we can't. But if the 20th century U.S. reliance on gas-guzzling vehicles forms the pattern for economic growth, then cash just keeps flowing to big oil companies even faster than the crude oil is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico today (while BP attempts to put a better cap on the gusher.) Big oil companies spend nearly unfathomable amounts of money hoping to convince consumers how "green" they are via slick ad campaigns and quiet, dignified, sincere-sounding sponsorship messages on public TV. 

The reality is hidden, or at least obscured. But it's there to be seen despite the advertising, and the coverup in progress in the Gulf.

Boycotts of one company merely shift the profits to another. This isn't like trying to get Nestle to be responsible about how baby formula is distributed in third world countries, after all. So what's to do?

We have to approach it in several ways, because oil-consumption is woven into the very fabric of our daily lives. No single action will solve this, it's too big. It's likely to take longer to fix than it did to create.

12 Steps to a better tomorrow

» First and foremost we have to admit that we have an oil problem.

» Next we resolve to restore sanity to our decisions rather than letting massive multi-national corporations continue to exploit our oil habit.

» Join those who have to decided to prioritize our decisions on what's best for our planet, family, and neighbors.

» To move forward, we have to understand why we rely on oil - we have to consider our past decisions as objectively as possible.

» Like any other addict, we must admit we got it wrong - we may have been duped, but we own the decisions we made regardless.

» We have to decide to change - we have to be ready to give up these dangerous habits. To do otherwise feeds both the oil pushers and others who haven't yet come to understand just how big the problem really is.

» We have to be willing to lead in progressively reducing and surrendering our reliance on oil-fueled existence.

» Think of all the people harmed by our cars, trucks, and other petroleum-based self-indulgences such as plastic shopping bags and bottles, and admit that it's not just BP and their peers that should make amends for the problem.

» We have to actually make amends, not just think and talk; Boycotts alone won't solve the problem, and we can't wait for BP, Exxon, or governments to fix our demand, which is the real problem, when they can barely figure out how to contain the leaks from a single well.

» We can't stop thinking. We have to consider that no matter how big it is, and how we continue to drive up the demand for petroleum, we must consciously act to reduce our own use over the days, months, and decades ahead while working to mitigate and remediate the effects as we find our way forward to new approaches that reflect our need to thrive in balance with the planet.

» Deliberately improve our contact with nature. Nobody who has ever fished or been a bird-watcher can fail to be moved by the images from the Gulf; only by insulating ourselves from the environment can we pretend our petroleum consumption might not matter. We have had our heads in the sand so long even it has become oil-soaked.

» Lastly, we must spread the word to practice this awareness and perspective to others, as Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) did in his commentary on the the BP oil spill and the need for transportation reform at dc.streetsblog.org - it's a start.

Carpe diem!

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