As I write this, I'm watching the oil industry undergo the requisite drilling grilling by appropriately outraged Congressional Democrats and laughably sympathetic Congressional Republicans. Thoughts race through my mind, criss-crossing the dialogue. As industry executives flatly declare that all is being done which can be done, thoughts fly. "Do these people live in the real world? Do they understand what has happened here? Are they so wanton, so craven, that they can shrug off what they have done?"
Do they understand that we are close to turning the Gulf of Mexico into a dead zone? Do they? REALLY?
If they did, you'd think no one would be trying to lift the President's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.
If they did, you'd think they'd hammer down that moratorium and forbid any more fracking and cracking of the delicate sea surface until they figured this out.
If they did, they'd be scrambling to make investments in something other than oil.
Nearly 18 months ago, I was laid off. To save money, I gave my car away to a friend who needed it more than I did and cut the ties that bind me to the oil industry. Don't hold me up as a righteous environmental example or anything, because the decision was purely economic. It was also life-changing.
I walk everywhere I can. One of the welcome results of walking has been fitness. And weight loss. My husband, noting the benefits of walking, bought a bicycle and rides 30-50 miles a day, depending on time. It's not feasible for him to ride his bike to the job he got to fill the hole mine left, but he tries as much as possible to limit drive time.
And yes, we own a Prius. And yes, I have access to a car if I really, really need it, which I do about once every couple of months since our son has to have a car for commuting to college twice a week.
If we could, we'd stop driving altogether tomorrow. We'd stop because we are disgusted with the price exacted from the earth, from the people, from the dead birds and dolphins and because we cannot look our children in the eye without the shame of knowing we've known for 30 years we needed to break this addiction but we kept on anyway, with our SUVs and disposable plastics and all the rest of it.
We don't need cap-and-trade imaginary markets as much as we need to give oil up cold turkey, one car, one bottle, one plastic disposable whatever at a time. And we need efficient, high-speed mass transit, because I'm not idealistic enough to think we can simply give up driving and survive. I understand people need to commute to work, though I don't understand why they don't carpool more. I understand people need to get places in a safe, reasonably fast way.
It doesn't have to cost us the Gulf of Mexico. It doesn't have to put these pompous oil executives in charge. It shouldn't feed wars, and greed, and Republicans. But it does.
And it will until we actually send the message that it isn't regulation, it isn't technology, it isn't money and it isn't the economy. It isn't a question of boycotting BP at the expense of mom-and-pop gas stations and communities dependent on their largesse. It comes to individual action which, when added up, becomes meaningful collective action.
Until we, the people, demonstrate in tangible ways that we are done drinking oil, they'll keep drilling deeper and deeper and deeper, and we will see more disasters, ones worse even than this one.
Here's my challenge: Put the car keys away when you can. Use public transportation. Walk to the mall, walk to the market, walk to the dry cleaners. Put the kids on bikes and ride with them. Use reusable containers or if you must buy something in plastic rather than glass, recycle it.
Make the oil industry obsolete, one step at a time. We can do this. Yes, we really can.