The massive catastrophic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and the recent West Virginia coal mining tragedy provide another perspective on the cost of our fossil fuel dependence. Hopefully, these events will be far reaching and not too quickly forgotten in our daily consciousness.
The Gulf Disaster: An Undersea Volcano of Oil
Classifying the current oil well break-down as an oil spill was appropriate when the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground and leaked it’s defined the volume of contents. However, this disaster in the Gulf is in its own category. It is spewing thousand of barrels of oil and gas a mile underground every day from a much, much larger source. All because a $500,000 part was under-spec, overlooked, and not required by the regulators. BTW, BP made $165 billion in profit over the last eight years.
We all know that both the mining and oil exploration industries are dangerous occupations and we oftentimes overlook both the human and environmental cost because the numbers don’t make the headlines or grab our attention frequently enough.
When you factor in the impact of human lives lost, plus the unimaginable widespread impacts on waterfowl, fish, and other species from these disasters, GreenBlizzard wonders why citizens of the world can not commit that the fossil fuel era needs to come to an end, for our survival, and for the survival of the rest of the species with which we share this planet?
The earth is still recovering from the Exxon Valdez spill back in 1989. Oil is still prevalent on the Alaskan coastline even after spending nearly $7 billion in the cleanup. Only 8% of the spilled oil in Alaska was ever recovered, 50% smeared the beaches, 20% evaporated, and as much as 16,000 gallons is still floating around the Sound. According to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council: 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs were lost.
This current day man-made disaster in the Gulf will probably have similar, maybe even a larger environmental impact because it is estimated that there a 9,000 miles of coastline in the spill region.
Going forward, as we gulp down energy and start to contemplate ways that we might conserve energy, lets factor in this cost component along with our estimated personal $$ savings; our desire to reduce our reliance on these fossil fuel sources; and our calculation of our carbon output.
Lets factor in the downside of digging and drilling for these energy sources that the earth so quietly stored away millions of years ago. Going forward, we need to focus on leaving these fossil fuels untapped and step-up our pace of conversion to the wind, thermal, and solar and other clean resources.
What can we all do as individual consumers other than continuing to ask our government to take more leadership? We can vote with our wallets and conserve energy and make purchases that will drive a more environmentally conscious economy.