I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Costs of Cheap Oil

Big Oil is holding its breath. BP's shares are in steep decline after the debacle in the Gulf of Mexico. Barack Obama, the American people and the global environmental community are outraged, and now the company stands to lose the rights to drill for oil in the Arctic and other ecologically sensitive places.  The gulf disaster may cost it a few billion dollars, but so what? When annual profits for a company often run to tens of billions, the cost of laying 5,000 miles of booms, or spraying millions of gallons of dispersants and settling 100,000 court cases is not much more than missing a few months' production. It's awkward, but it can easily be passed on....Big Oil's real horror was not the spillage, which was common enough, but because it happened so close to the US. Millions of barrels of oil are spilled, jettisoned or wasted every year without much attention being paid.
If this accident had occurred in a developing country, say off the west coast of Africa or Indonesia, BP could probably have avoided all publicity and escaped starting a clean-up for many months

Ethically, if we (that means you and I) don't press our governments to invest in alternative energy, we are complicit in oil spills like Deepwater Horizon. If we don't lobby for and use rapid transit we are complicit. If we do nothing to prevent Enbridge building a pipeline to the BC coast from the tar sands, we will be reponsible for spills from oil tankers carrying oil down the coast.  If we don't work to change the system, we will be complicit in climate change.

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