We've entered the second month of the oil gusher under the Gulf of Mexico spewing somewhere between 25,000 and 100,ooo barrels of oil per day into the water. And while there's plenty of blame to lay at the feet of BP, I fear we are losing site of the bigger picture of this disaster and what it really means.
Again, while there is plenty to blame on BP, we need to really understand what's going on here. In the same way that a drug addict will do anything to get their next fix, the United States of America is truly addicted to Oil.
Directing your anger at BP for this mess is akin to a cocaine addict getting mad at a straw for blowing out the bridge in their nose.
The hard truth is that we're all to blame. I'm to blame, you're to blame, and just like the drug war has done nothing to stop demand for drugs, punishing BP (while they should be punished) will do nothing to stop future disasters from occurring.
Is BP really more to blame for this mess than government subsidies that have been given to the oil industry, interfering with the free market and artificially driving down the cost of oil?
Is BP more to blame than the people in Nantucket who don't want wind energy farms being built off their cost?
Is BP more to blame than Ronald Reagan, who removed the solar panels from the White House that Jimmy carter installed in 1979?
Is BP more to blame than a nation of people that purchased SUV's that get 12 miles per gallon?
Is BP more to blame than the executive who could institute a work from home policy two days per week for any employee that works in a cubicle, saving huge amounts of energy, but doesn't because they refuse to embrace new technology?
No, they're not.
It feels good to blame BP because it means we don't need to blame ourselves. It means we're not at fault. And it means we don't have to change.
Here are the facts. The United States of America consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day. The world consumes about 85 million barrels per day, which means about a quarter of that consumption comes from the United States. And it's estimated that the reservoir under the Gulf holds somewhere around 50 million barrels of oil.
This represents about 3 days worth of oil for the USA.
Think about that. We're willing to put an entire ecosystem at risk, drilling a hole 3.5 miles into the core of the earth, and a mile deep in the ocean, for what? For a three day hit on our addiction.
We should punish BP, but that's not going to fix anything. So every time you want to blame someone for this mess, say it's the fault of "BP and me". Because that's exactly who's fault it is.
This disaster must be our nation's rock bottom. We need to enter rehab, and we need to enter it now.