Beautiful, isn’t it? It’s the beach at Longboat Key where Cherie and I just spent the weekend.
The Gulf of Mexico is definitely one of the crown jewels of creation. Teeming with fish and marine life, its warm waves gently break on some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.
But as we enjoyed the beauty of it this weekend, we were saddened and sickened by the knowledge that somewhere between 210,000 and 4.2 million gallons of oil have been spewing into the Gulf every day for nearly a month. And there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight to the catastrophe.
What would cause otherwise intelligent, rational and presumably moral human beings to spend tens of millions of dollars to drill an underwater oil well at that depth, risking a disaster that may destroy an ecosystem for generations? What would cause them to do so with no idea how to stop a rupture if it should occur?
Of course the immediate answer is greed and profit. But I don’t think it’s fair to have the buck stop with the oil companies. Of course B.P. deserves whatever this costs it, and more. But while we’re all venting outrage at B.P., let’s reflect for a moment on what led B.P. to take this chance. Sadly, the reason B.P. drilled that well, and the reason there are many such ticking time bombs (and many more on the way), is to meet the seemingly insatiable demand created by our gluttony.
We Americans are energy pigs. We consume 22.6 barrels of oil per year per capita. In other words, we use 1,243 gallons of oil per year per every man, woman and child in the country. That is double what is consumed in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and Italy. It is over ten times what is consumed in China.
The vast majority of us never stop to reflect on what our overconsumption does to the earth. We want our plastic bottles of water. We want our cheap gasoline. We want our mountains of junk floated across the ocean from China. And if keeping ourselves fat and bloated with stuff means potentially spewing hundreds of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, so be it. Drill here. Drill now. Anything to keep from having to reduce consumption.
Heaven help us.