Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Driven By Oil (Leak)

Earlier today while listening to The Survival Podcast, I was shocked (though I probably shouldn't have been) to learn that there has been another oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico identical to the one in the gulf right now.  In 1979, the Ixtoc oil spill dumped 30,000 barrells of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico after a the blowout preventer failed to stop a blowout.  Sound familiar?  The exact same methods to stop the leak were tried, and they failed.  Remember the "Top Hat" strategy?  Well, 30 years ago it was called the "Sombrero" strategy.  And, guess what... it didn't work then either.  Oh, and the rig was owned by a company called Sedco, which is known today as Transocean.

In the past thirty years, nothing has been done by either our government or the oil industry to improve safety or prevent this kind of leak from happening again, which it so disasterously has.  However, our government knew this has happened before, what worked to fix the leak, and what did not.  Pretending to go along with BP's attempts to fix the leak using failed techniques from thrity years ago is irresponsible.  Why not just come out and say, "Look the only way to fix this kind of leak is to drill a relief well, but that will take many months?" 

I'll tell you why.  No one wants to give the public that kind of bad news.  Our government, along with BP, would like everyone to believe they are doing all that they can with the most current technology to stop the leak.  So, they distract us with failed attempt after failed attempt, rather than deliver the bad news that this leak is going to be active for a long time coming.

I've seen a lot of groups pop up and circulating emails focused on boycotting BP.  That's a start, but the problem is so much deeper than boycotting one company.  These disasters have happened because we have an addiction to cheap oil.  Our oil addiction has made oil companies very rich, and they will go to any length to feed our addiction and ensure that profits keep rolling in. 

Since our government has had 30 years to prevent a problem like the leak in the gulf, and hasn't done so yet, we are on our own if we want to prevent oil leaks in the future.  The only way we will prevent future accidents from risky oil drilling is to reduce the demand for oil. 

So today, I spent the time to compile a comprehensive list of things that individuals can do to reduce their oil dependence.  So far, I have a list of over 85 things that are easy to do that also reduce our individual oil consumptionl  There isn't room here to list all of these, so here are the top 7:
  1. Grow a garden.  Oil used to power large farm equipment, in the fuel from shipping around the country and around the world, the powering of food processing equipment, food packaging, and of course, the fuel used in each vehicle used to go to the grocery store.  Gardens also reduce the amount of grass that needs to be cut, so you use your lawn mower less.
  2. Whenever possible, walk, ride a bike, or take a bus.  Leave the car at home unless absolutely necessary.
  3. Wear clothes made of natural fibers.  Not only do they feel better and breathe better, synthetics are made from petroluem products.
  4. Source out natural personal care products.  This includes hair care, cosmetics, deodorants, skin lotions, and perfumes.  Personal care products that contain petroleum-based and synthetic ingredients are linked to health problems, including cancer.  Artificial fragrances are some of the most toxic concoctions ever invented.  Stick to products with natural ingredients, and fragranced with essential oils.
  5. Use cloth shopping bags instead of plastic ones.  Besides, do you really need so many bags collecting in your home.  At the very least, bring your plastic bags to be recycled.  Some grocery stores have a recycling recepticle at their entrances for plastic bags.
  6. Recycle.  Most towns and cities now have some kind of recycling program, and they will take your plastic water bottles, milk jugs, and other plastics, reducing the need for newer plastics and additional petroluem.  
  7. Buy used.  Shop at consignment stores, yard sales, craigslist, and good will stores.  This is another form of recycling.
Live better, a little every day.

Supporting links:
Rachel Maddow, The More Spills change, the More They Stay the Same
Wikipedia, Ixtoc I Oil Spill

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