Sara Whitman

Oil Spill: What Can I Do?

Filed By Sara Whitman | June 04, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Beyond Petroleum, BP, British Petroleum, Gulf Coast, Gulf of Mexico, oil production, oil well, one million gallons

One Million Gallons of Oil a Day. Since April 20th.


And still, the oil gushes.

Did you know this particular site was tried before and actually did the same thing but it was a shallower well, and they contained it more quickly?

The only advance in technology has been in digging deeper, not in clean up?

That Russia has used nuclear devices to seal off leaking wells in the ocean? They are suggesting we do the same?

People are calling to have the military take over. Um, aren't they a little busy with two wars right now?

I cannot begin to explain to you how helpless I feel about this spill. When I was in Maine, I talked to two people who pull lobsters for a living. They shook their heads. They know it's going to ultimately affect their water, too.

Because it's the ocean.

We may have killed our ocean for the next generation. Maybe forever.

I'd like to get angry with BP, but the truth is, any oil company would have done the same. The bottom line is, every time I pull up to the gas station? It's my fault. Our economy is based on supply and demand.

I feel helpless there, too. Sure, I could give up my car. I could drill for geo-thermal heat/cooling for my home- of course that process of digging, connecting, building, is fueled by oil.

Every piece of food I buy in the supermarket, every piece of clothing, every purchase, is based on oil. Everything.

As I looked through the New York Times photos online this morning, I wondered, what can I do?

I have no idea.

When it comes to LGBT rights, I understand the process. I know the different strategies, how to make them work, what I'm best at doing. I know I can make a real difference.

This? I need help with. Help. What can I do? What can I do on a micro and a macro level?

I've spent my whole life completely in love with the ocean. Drawn to it. Soothed by it. I need to give back.


Had to add this:

"Professor Wereley testified in Capitol Hill in front of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday that the total for the two leaks is around 95,000 barrels, with a 20% margin of error which places the leak at anywhere from 76,000 barrels per day to 114,000 barrels per day."

95,000 barrels equals 4 million gallons.

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Use as much mass transit--and bicycle--as much as possible.

Make sacrifices.

That's what we all can and must do, either now or later.

Mo Rage
the blog

And we use what, like 20 million barrels a day in the U.S.? So 10% would be 2 million and 1% would be 200,000 s this single well is spilling about 1/2 of 1 % of the U.S. daily consumption? That means 50 wells like this would wipe out our daily oil deficit of 10 million barrels a day?

So, there are then 4 things to be addressed.
1. Stop the leak.
2. Fix the environmental damage which will take decades.
3. Find alternate energy sources because this dependence on petroleum is ultimately doomed.
4. Drill more but with plenty of safety precautions and oversight.

Judas Peckerwood | June 4, 2010 8:45 PM

That's like telling an alcoholic:

1. Stop drinking.
2. Fix the things in your life you destroyed when you drank.
3. Address what made you an alcoholic in the first place.
4. Drink responsibly.

Yeah. Do you think it will work? Maybe I should have added .. 5. Pray.

Being prior military, I can say this.

-The military does not drill for oil. There for the military does not have ANY technology or knowlege to stop an underwater oil issue. Navy divers cannot dive to the depths that the oil leak is at.

-The whole 'Russia used a nuke to seal a serious oil leak...' meme is from the internet rumor mill. Seriously, nuclear weapons are designed primarily for air bursts. The few designed as nuclear torpedos or depth charges are not designed to go to that depth. The entire task with out prior testing could result in collapsing the strata that the oil is in blowing out the ENTIRE contents of oil. Oil that would then be contaminated with radiation. I'll take the plain jane oil over radioactive oil any day.

I'm wondering about the math here. If the leak has been going for a month and a half, and the total spilled is 4 million gallons, how can it be one million gallons a day?

And yes, we must reduce our dependence on oil. Must.

Yes the math gets confusing because articles keep switching between gallons and barrels. As I have been told, 1 barrel equals about 42 gallons. No one is sure how much has been spilled but estimates range from 3-7 million barrels or 42 times that in gallons 126 million to about 300 million gallons. Whatever the correct amount it is huge.

3-7 million barrels? But Sara quoted a Professor Wereley as saying it was about 95,000 barrels.

I think the one thing we can all agree on is that there's too much f--cking oil flowing into the Gulf - no matter how much it is total.

That hopelessness is exactly what the rightwing wants you to feel right now. Our country's owning class thrives on citizens' feelings of powerlessness - people who are already defeated in their heads are less likely to raise a ruckus.

Part of getting there was to make people focus on individual lifestyle changes instead of getting laws passed - with teeth - to prevent crises like these. "I need to bike more" is fine, but it's not going to address the problem. Oprah handing out energy-saving lightbulbs isn't going to do anything to reduce our dependence on oil. Buying products that buy energy off-sets won't do anything in the grand scheme of things either.

It's not about us, it's about BP, and the oil industry generally. They want to blame us and for us to blame ourselves - it gets them off the hook. But a law that requires more safety precautions in oil wells (they weren't even trying here), that increases their liability to the full cost of the damage instead of making the peasants pick up the check, and increasing research and development of alternative energy sources would do a whole lot more than changing a few light bulbs.

Seriously, wear a Nike T-shirt, it's not going to make the factory workers in Indonesia work longer hours than they otherwise would - a real, international labor framework would help more. Don't worry about eating organic - instead, we should be trying to ban pesticides and environmentally unsound practices in all agriculture. Don't worry about taking a bike or walking (although everyone could use the fresh air), but push for a highly regulated oil industry.

I don't know what it is about Americans and Europeans, thinking that if they punish themselves they're somehow helping. These problems occur on a larger scale with real villains who know what they're doing to the world and just don't care. They should be stopped, and, yeah, that would raise prices on certain goods, but we're really already paying the price for cheap oil as it is.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 7, 2010 4:41 AM

Alex, there are many oil companies not owned by Europeans and Americans.

Saudi Oil
Iranian Oil
Abu Dhabi
Kuwait are the largest producers and are thusfar land based Near to me:

Petronis of Malaysia does a lot of offshore drilling. China Petroleum with deals right now in Africa. On a world wide scale BP is a small player, but with North Sea oil drilling experience. The solutions for our planet include development of international treaties and approaches to problems. There should be one purpose driven advanced tech company designed to deal with this sort of oil emergency anywhere in the world rather than each company's individual approach. It should be paid for by oil users proportionate to their use so the good old USA would pick up 24% of the tab. 3.5% of the world population.

I do not believe that just an American/European solution is enough at all. I doubt we can legislate a bill for it due to the international complexities a person without an engineering degree could understand. This has been a long overdue wake up call regarding the manner in which oil rigs are maintained. A friend of mine works in Saudi Arabia and has offshore drilling experience. If the proper safeguards had been working it would have sealed itself. The key thing is to both maintain the safeguards in pristine order in saltwater conditions and an accepted worldwide standard with correct procedures that presently do not exist. I can tell you this much. Every company with an offshore rig is checking and double checking the readiness of their systems. I would want to see BP's maintenance log books of their suppression system. This is a horrible lapse they initially tried to worm out of by saying that they had contracted out operation of the rig in question. I am sure you recall "hear no, see no, speak no evil" at the congressional hearings on the matter.

Jillian- the numbers are all over the place. I have since read a bunch more. the bottom line is that it will end up being the single largest spill ever recorded.

even if it's conservative numbers.

alex, you are dead right on. and I should know better. I do shareholder work and I should damn well know better.

now I'm off to craft a resolution about advancing clean up technology- which hasn't been done-

and the russians did too use a nuke- I'll find the article later and link to it. now I have to go walk- yes walk- over to get the weekend bagels.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 7, 2010 4:45 AM

I hope you take your own bag! ;)

It requires an overhaul of our lifestyle. But I have to agree with Alex here on the not seeing the forest because of our focus on our own individual tree. What I did was start working at home which has saved a fortune for me in gas and saved a lot of gas over the last seven years.