Now that we have a political action group called Raging Grannies, I think it's safe to say that I saw an old lady protesting yesterday by the neighborhood B.P. filling station.
White hair in the wind, she displayed an illegible sign, but her sour face and spare hand waving thumb down said it all: "Boycott B.P."
I'll bet the sign said something like:
"Don't buy gas from British Petroleum because their destruction of the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates that they are incompetent at best and evil at worst. If you buy from B.P., you are aiding and abetting this criminal enterprise."
Out of (slight) respect for the lone protester — and because my tank was full — I did not cross her picket point. (Geometrically, a picket point is a picket line comprised of a single picketer.)
But I do not agree with her. I think she's a dope head.
Oh, Go Ahead And Buy Gas At B.P.
First of all, I find it hard to believe — with today's corporate complexity — that the cashier at the local BP Connect & Wild Bean Café gets her paycheck from the same company as the off-shore riggers. And the local filling station surely gets its high-test from every source. And, similarly, any properly captured crude from B.P.'s rigs in the Gulf surely flows through every brand of pump in town.
But that's not my chief beef in the sanctimonious caterwauling for B.P.'s head in a basket.
My argument: B.P. is not ultimately to blame.
Sure, B.P. will probably be destroyed, its brand and balance sheet drowned in what will soon be known as The Black Sea. (Oh, is that name already taken? How about Gulf of Chernobyl?)
But B.P. isn't attacking the environment for the heck of it. All those corporate executives didn't wake up one day and say, "Let's just go get oil, even if the environment suffers."
Sorry, but B.P. is not to blame.
Who is to blame?
I know who is to blame.
Blame me. I can't even count the number of unnecessary automobile trips I've taken in the past several days.
This morning? For crumpets. Midday? To a museum. Tonight? To a play rehearsal. (There were other trips, less worthy. But modesty forbids.)
Tomorrow? More of the same. Much more.
Sure, they are all meaningful trips, but they are not critical to my survival. They are wholly discretionary.
So I cannot, for one moment, besmirch the oil industry. They are doing my work for me, providing me with fuel for my life and, yes, my lifestyle.
We're addicted. So show some love.
Hearing anyone — anyone who drives a car as freely as I do — complain about the oil industry is like hearing an addict say, "I hate my drug dealer."
Dude, the drug dealer works for you. You hate your drug dealer? Fire her.
Same now. You don't like the cost of gasoline — especially now that the cost of gasoline includes a clearly visible environmental nightmare? Then do something about it.
And don't just declare that we should all not buy gas on Thursday to send a powerful message to the oil industry. The only message is: we're stupid and we will wait to buy our gas on Friday or — better yet for Big Oil — we will fill up a day earlier on Wednesday.
We're addicted. Sure, Big Oil provides a pipeline. But we are at the ultimate end of the pipeline, drinking deeply. Our entire economy — and lifestyle — lives on gasoline.
The Real Meaning Of The Gulf
The Gulfmare seems like a call for true investment in and development of green energy. Of course, any politician who calls for this might be dismissed as an opportunist, but that's just nay-sayers saying nay.
This is the time to change our lives.
(I've got to get closer crumpets.)
Today's Real Opportunity
Let's think about what feeds our energy use:
- Whenever we turn on a light switch, there is a coal miner on the other end of that wire, earning his livelihood, risking his life — and sometimes losing his life.
- Whenever we run the air conditioning, there is a nuclear power plant on the other end of it, developing radioactive waste for our descendants.
- Whenever we take a unnecessary trip in the car, we are asking a soldier to take another step toward securing our oil supply.
- Even as I type on this keyboard — and as you read this piece — we are indeed complicit in the Gulf.
My goal isn't to make you feel guilty all day and night. Nor is my intention to change my life much. I like my crumpets from whence they come.
And, sure, B.P. should have avoided the spill and should be doing better now with the problem. But let's remember who wants cheap gasoline.
We don't like oil drilling, especially now that it's so dirty.
Ask not for whom the gulf slicks, it slicks for thee.
This Memorial Day
Let us remember those who died on the Deepwater Horizon rig, among the latest people to give their lives for our freedom to burn gasoline:
Jason Anderson, 35, Midfield, Texas; Aaron Dale Burkeen, 37, Philadelphia, Mississippi; Donald Clark, 34, Newellton, Louisiana; Stephen Curtis, 39, Georgetown, Louisiana; Gordon Jones, 28, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, Jonesville, Louisiana; Karl Klepping, 38, Natchez, Mississippi; Blair Manuel, 56, Eunice, Louisiana; Dewey Revette, 48, State Line, Mississippi; Shane Roshto, 22, Franklin County, Mississippi; and Adam Weise, 24, Yorktown, Texas.
May they rest in peace. May their names long be a blessing to all who knew and loved them.