Blame BP For Oil Spill? How About Blame Yourselves!

A  little context:

o25_23537411[1] (Image Credit:  John Moore/Getty Images) Yeah, back with the transit attitude.  So obviously, unless you live under a rock, you know about the bubbling black gold coming out of the Gulf of Mexico.  One could argue that it is BP’s fault, it is the Government’s fault, it is X’s fault.  I’m just going to step out here and say, if you aren’t riding a bike for every bloody day of your life in the United States, IT IS YOUR FAULT!  Yup, that’s correct.  You are the reason that BP is out there.  You America are the reason we’re addicted to the catastrophe, now and the ongoing one.  You are the reason that communities have been destroyed by Interstate Construction, people live farther away from each other than ever in history. You, you, you, and you.  All of you that drive.  Even the people taking transit have some things to answer for.  Streetcars did create the original suburbs.

Needless to say, we need new energy sources.  We need to clean up the ones we have to keep using and we absolutely have to find a way to reconnect society in a better way.  This is especially true if the US seeks to maintain some type of integrity, success, and basic standard of living for the children of today.  YES, the children of today.  Not tomorrow, but today’s children have their very future at stake.  Some may say it’s their children’s problems, but no, that is not the case.  It is the children of today that have their future already in debt, it is their environment that is already partially wrecked, it is their spoiled lives that we’ve set to a path of laziness.  What they have on their shoulders only our grandparents and great grandparents even could guess.  We’ve lived in an age of ease and it is slowly but surely coming to close for the US.  Transit, zoning, and technology are our rescue, but the children of today, and the minds of today must mitigate the risks of tomorrow.

I’ve got my fingers crossed, as I’m always optimistic.  But there are some days this lack of action really drives at me.  This oil burbling up from the depths definitely doesn’t help my optimism for the future.


  1. To be fair, bikes aren’t exactly petroleum free or carbon-neutral either. What do think it takes to manufacture your aluminum frame, the plastic in your gear shifters or reflectors, the rubber tires, or the lube on your chain?

    Just saying, the holier-than-thou attitude that many cyclists take won’t prove very productive when it comes to reach the necessary compromises to begin moving us toward a sustainable, hydrocarbon-free energy supply.


  2. Well, as a longtime bike rider (and driver of a hybrid) I call BS. Even though it’s correct that our fixation on cheap gas is damaging, the oil companies are not thereby relieved of responsibility for ethical action. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that the inciting incident for this catastrophe was an explosion that killed 11 people. Those people did not deserve the death penalty because they worked for an oil company nor because I drive a car.


  3. Without consumer demand there would be no incentive for reckless risk taking and negligence on the part of oil companies. Adron is spot on. We are all to blame. Americans will only absolve themselves when they get serious about raising consumer fuel prices and implementing strong disincentives for fossil energy use. That and removing liability caps.


  4. I am not responsible for “reckless risk taking” by others. The notion that I “make you” do something stupid or wrong is repugnant. When one of your kids says “he made me do it,” your response will be what? “Oh, okay, you’re not responsible for your actions, then.” Not.


  5. Sorry Michael, those deaths are on YOU too. Your comment here is almost an about face from the apologists approach to homelessness that you posted earlier. Not meaning to make this ad hominem, but it is out of sync.

    I encourage actions to speak for people. Handing the homeless a dollar, building them a place to stay that is in the WRONG location to raise them from their turmoil, ignoring that WE the PEOPLE encourage BP and other corporations to continue this behavior is all along the same lines of insanity. Repeating the same vitriol and expecting a different result.

    The Government isn’t fixing these problems. The corporations won’t fix these problems. I’m just calling people’s bullshit, because really if people DO want to fix these problems; homelessness, oil spills, community, etc – then THEY need to get out there and do something. The individuals of this nation need to act – don’t expect a handout or feel entitled. These problems won’t fix themselves.


  6. Bad analogy. Keep passing the buck. How convenient to hold such a narrow and self- serving notion of causality. Until Americans decide theyve had enough and get tough on fossil energy, we will richly deserve every mess it gets us into.


  7. “I am not responsible for “reckless risk taking” by others. The notion that I “make you” do something stupid or wrong is repugnant. When one of your kids says “he made me do it,” your response will be what? “Oh, okay, you’re not responsible for your actions, then.” Not.”

    That is an incorrect and misaligned correlation.

    Re: My previous comment. The correlation stands much closer. Act good, but don’t damn others – ESPECIALLY when one hasn’t walked in their shoes. Most Americans haven’t even remotely been involved in the process of managing one of those rigs. Especially after most Americans scream out (metaphorically) for MORE OIL, and ENERGY INDEPENDENCE only to cry and fuss when this happens.

    You may lead a good example, as do I, but it doesn’t give us the logical, phylisophical, or moral right to damn others that we don’t understand. We just know that they shouldn’t have let this happen and we should act in essence to not let this type of thing happen on our watch. If you really care you’d stop driving anything that uses petroleum. If one really cared they’d eat only local foods (Organic or not). If one really cared they’d make sure not to live in an auto dependent area.

    Obviously most Americans by their actions, don’t care. But by their mindless vitriol, supposedly care in after thought.

    …again, just sayin’.


  8. @Sean: Nope, BP and other businesses do not act wrecklessly to keep up with some rush driven by high demand.

    They cut corners and do things on the cheep because they are leegaly bound to put profit before anything else, regardless of demand for the product.

    Case in point: the milk industry produces way over demand for milk, with a massive surpless. Yet buinesses around this industry such as Mosanto and industrial farms continue to push to produce more and cheeper milk to the detriment of consumers, livestock, the envirent and even the future of thir own industry.

    This myopic drive for profit regardless of conciquence is one major flaw in a capitalist system. The oil spill would have ocoured with or without high consumer demand. Adron is right though that we are all to blame, but because we fail to elect a goverment that will regulate and nationalize business and industry. Not because we use lot of oil.

    I am a transit commuter btw and hate cars, but i also hate false corolisation.


  9. Gareth, you, too are caught up in looking only at proximate rather than ultimate effects. And your analogy is flawed. The only similarity milk bears to oil is that they are both liquids. Then mix a little anti-capitalist rhetoric for good measure. Intelligent discussions on energy are about as rare as ones on religion. Have fun, guys.


  10. No. Your only looking at the proximate; the oil leak happened cause we love oil. This is incorect, the oil spill ocoured because of a much higher level universal: Bad things happen because businesses are gready.

    I am sure if we switched to say wind power bad stuff would still happen: arm on wind turbine flys off and crushes school bus because WindNrg plc. Used cheep wind turbine blade conectors to cut cost.

    You sir are comprehension fail.


  11. Oh well, Adron directly and explicitly took the blame off BP and put it on me. That makes him an apologist for “reckless risk taking” by oil companies. He’s down on the homeless and up on big oil. Go figure. I have a different idea: corporations are responsible for their actions. BP is responsible for the mess in the Gulf. Chase et al are responsible for the mess in our financial system. Concept. Ironically, by refusing to hold BP responsible for its own actions, Adron et al align themselves (rather explicitly) with the oil industry itself. Phew!


  12. The oil spill, happened because there is pressure underground where it is located at. The hole that allowed the pressure to vent, thus spilling the oil was caused by mankind. The reason mankind is drilling for it is because of the societal lust for personal transportation & vast logistics required for large scale farming and shipping. Both of which necessitate us finding oil, and maintaining a cheap price (re: keeping a fair amount of risk) which then leads to the mishaps of this type of incident.

    All I’m saying, i that people want to complain often have no room to complain as they go about their lives driving, warming their houses (with petro based fuel) etc. Sure it could happen with other sources too. All I’m saying is that the problem needs fixed and everybody that is whining probably should shut the fuck up because it’s their bloody fault that BP (and other companies) are out their ruining the environment on the behalf of all the suburbs, urban centers, and rural landscapes that house humanity.

    Point being, unless a great majority of people are will to pay a couple more bucks per gallon, spills like this will keep happening. Disasters like in the first gulf war will be easily possibly, and the list goes on.

    American mentality is at the heart of this disaster, and unfortunately its spreading throughout the world.

    You guys can say I have logic #fail or whatever, but I’m not bitching and whining about the disaster, just calling people on their bullshit. Just because you guys want to pretend you’re not part of this grand issue doesn’t change the fact that you are. It’s kind of like those that continue to ignore or pretend their isn’t environmental changes occurring on Earth of a greater than average nature.

    …and yes, I’m taking some blame. Even though I’ve done more through action than any of you two naysayers (Michael/Gareth – Shame on youz) to prevent being associated or perpetuating this type of disaster. No car, no petro, local only, etc. I won’t however act irresponsible and blame BP because they’re doing something that I’ve indirectly perpetuated but I will however not buy their fuel, nor lobby, vote, or encourage further drilling. At this point I can only hope this gets fixed and improves. Writing essays and blaming BP however is just shortsighted and asinine.

    Kind of like CRYING when someone else eats the last candy. Grow up humanity, and start fixing the problems instead of bitching and moaning.

    ’nuff said.


  13. Okay, having read all that I feel I have the right to respond in (maybe lengthy) kind. I have heard that BP cut corners and didn’t have as good a system as they could’ve. On the other hand, if they’d been allowed to drill ON LAND such a problem wouldn’t be dumping oil into the gulf, and would be MUCH easier to fix. Why can’t they drill on land? Because of people who hate oil putting restrictions on it as a lead-up to trying to get rid of it.

    As far as hating cars? Yeah, try living in Oklahoma or any other western state OUTSIDE of a large city. See how long you last without an automobile.
    If you care you eat locally? Really? So you’re going to stop eating oranges unless you’re in Florida? Just as one example. Good luck getting to Florida without oil, btw.

    Pure profit-motivated capitalism IS a problem, but nationalization is NOT the answer. Service motive is. Yes, a free system will have problems. A tyrannical system will have many more, and much worse problems. Who’s service motivated when you’re not free to run your own business? Not saying no one will be, but you’ll be filtering out much of the best for the sake of getting rid of just a little bad.


  14. I’m going to make multiple posts, because I have a lot to say (some off-topic) and I don’t want to go into a blindly directionless rant.
    First, I’d like to address not only this post but the crazy “boycott BP” people.

    First, BP swaps oil with every other oil company on the planet. The only thing the “boycott BP” people are going to do is hurt the small business owners who made the random decision to put “BP” out in front instead of “Citgo” or “Exxon”. BP will simply sell more oil to Exxon and let the small businesses die. That is the most ineffective boycott ever.

    That being said, BP *IS* at fault here, and it was a STUPID decision that did it– and one that they were not only warned about at the time, but that they had been warned about before, many, many times. BP alone accounted for 97% of ALL flagrant violations for the last 3 years (

    AND they were warned about this EXACT scenario JUST BEFORE it occurred, under orders from “BP Execs” to “speed up” by dumping salt water where it shouldn’t go (

    [This is a good link too:
    Rachael Maddow is about as fun to watch as Ghandi was violent, and I wish this story was broken by someone less annoying, inflammatory, and conceited, like Bill O’Reilly (oh yes he DID just go there!!!), but this is a good scoop nonetheless.]


  15. While I agree with Adron that the entire reason for their existence is OUR FAULT, BP has repeatedly, consistently, and prolongedly (is that a word?) committed reckless acts in the name of profit (see stats on my previous post). No other oil company even comes remotely close to their volume of delinquent behavior.

    I would be HAPPY to pay $7/gallon for oil. THAT is where the closest competitive price is on energy, and if oil and its attachments (gas, cars, etc) were at that pricepoint, we– as people– would be open to more options. By keeping oil at a falsely low price and by blindly subsidizing roadways and making them appear “free”, we have taken the true thought out of “how to best get around”. I’m not saying that other options won’t have some major risks too– because they do and they will– but let’s at least be realistic about our options.

    The reason oil is so cheap and “roads are free” is due to massive mismanagement of government on a wholesale level. If we paid the true costs directly, our country would be sculpted on a VASTLY different level and would be MUCH more efficient. Instead, we have an insane amount of bloat operating on a massively inefficient level, and we even consider this “normal”. The only logical course of action (living as Adron does) is largely cost-prohibitive due to the way our cost system is structured thanks to government intervention, making the only logical approach *illogical* for an individual to take.

    In the end, this is the fault of corruption in government as a whole, forcing logical people to make illogical decisions about the way they live. This is due to bribery, subsidization, and illegal collaboration starting in 1938 with the Streetcar Scandal. Prior to that, things were looking pretty good. The solution is to pressure the government to remove subsidization and directly charge for roads so logical people can make logical decisions about how they want to live their lives.


  16. Who’s to blame is of little matter at this point. The real focus now should be on preventing any future incidents. That means creating a world with 0% oil reliance. I only see two possible solutions. Revert to a very primitive state of living (goodbye modern medicine, computers, electric guitars, etc…), and we all know this is not going to happen. Leaving the only real solution, alternative energy sources ( and as Gareth pointed out, some of these are not 100% safe either). So the questions here are “What is the safest, most efficient, most practical alternative to oil?” “How do we get the entire planet to switch over?” and “If no such alternative currently exists, which one of us or group of us is going to devote every waking moment of our lives to discovering/inventing such an energy source?”


  17. 0% oil reliance. As if all the problems with energy would go away as long as we get rid of the scape goat? Water requires dams, solar requires panels which are not yet efficient enough for what we need, wind puts up huge propellers that slaughter bird flocks, nuclear is potentially dirty (though not as bad if we had modern stations). Ethanol has jacked up the price of corn so high that grocery stores basically give it away, and that’s because of anti-oil’s beloved subsidies, not because ethanol is worth a damn. I personally pay more to get real gas instead of ethanol most of the time.

    I’m not saying these problems are unsolvable. I am saying that whatever energy we use there will be problems that need solving. Once those are solved, other problems will be priority. Many proposed solutions are more human-hating than actually feasible. There is no way we’ll be entirely off oil soon, or probably ever. Look how much is pouring into the gulf, it’s not like we’re really running out. Yes there are problems, but a sudden revolution is too simple an answer. Oil is the big baddy right now because of the spill and because it’s the dominant energy. If Wind were the dominant energy (to use one example), there’d be nearly as many people out trying to fight against those expensive bird-killing eyesores as are currently fighting oil.


  18. Thanks Chris for elaborating on my point that there may not currently be a better source. I have not seen anything yet that is super cheap, safe, has no negative environmental impact and produces sufficient energy to power our modern society. None of the comparitive reports I have perused show a hands down champion.


  19. Businesses are greedy because we are greedy. We don’t want expensive oil. We don’t want expensive milk.

    I’m not defending corporate greed or saying that 11 people should have died and that the environmental disaster is excusable… what I’m saying is that morality and ethics come from the bottom up. Yes, like you said, these corporations are thoughtless profit making machines which means: they have no morality. Their morality is driven by the masses.

    If we as a society found oil consumption (and thus drilling) immoral, illogical or too dangerous we would not buy and thus BP would not drill and thus no oil spill. But we, because of our greed for “the good life” (powered and covered in oil and oil based products) allow profit machines to drill for one of the most volatile substances on earth (oil’s ability to go ‘boom’ is one reason we love it so much) in the most insane places, like 5,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico.

    Sure you can believe that government regulation would have prevented this. As if governments don’t cut corners or do things on the cheap. But even with perfect regulation, drilling for oil at 5,000 feet comes with the risk of disaster. I mean, it’s not flipping fucking hamburgers. This is not the first offshore blowout (check Wikipedia for a list of the virtually yearly occurrences) nor will it be the last.

    In other words: our oil based lifestyles are inherently dangerous and damaging to the environment. But so far society has decided that the risks and damage are worth it because it allows us to get around easily and have all sorts of neat conveniences and gadgets that we otherwise wouldn’t have. We’re being greedy, cutting corners and ignoring risks and reality to get what we want. Just like the corporations that listen to us.

    Go ahead and dream of a strictly regulated oil based society that never has a blowout or a spill, and where combustion engines convert oil into fresh air instead of pollution and plastics biodegrade into plant food.


  20. The claim that I have free will (can stop using oil-derived products and go live in the Idaho mountains and eat tree bark), while the owners and operators of BP do not have free will (cannot make moral choices in their daily business practices) is a logical absurdity. There are plenty of actions for which I have to accept responsibility but the actions of the CEO of British Petroleum are not among them.

    This whole “blame Americans” canard is just an exercise in complacency. The people placing the blame are, of course, silently excusing themselves from the blameworthy crowd because _they_ don’t take part in the “oil economy.” _They_ are smarter and more enlightened than the rest of us chumps, who are just going to work every day and raising families. Phooey. The minute your line of thought causes you to separate the world into “us” and “them,” a warning buzzer ought to go off in your mind. The minute you start talking about “America” or “Americans,” you ought to ask yourself the followup question, “Just who am I talking about, exactly?”

    And you’re not even talking about the most polluting aspects of modern life. The spill in the Gulf is spectacular, so it got your attention. Meanwhile, silently, industries all over the country and larger world are spewing millions of tons of pollutants that will kill you and your family a lot more quickly and over a much longer period of time. Printed circuit board mfg is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Let’s see a show of hands of individuals who are going to stop using computers and cell phones, in order to opt out of being a part of that polluting process. Yeah, that’s what I thought. Well, the good news from your standpoint is that most of the people who will die in coming years from PCB mfg pollution are Chinese. The bad news is that somewhere, someone’s granddaughter is going to die of cancer because you “had to have” the latest iPhone.

    There’s no chance of putting an end to debacles like the one in the Gulf, as long as there are oil industry apologists willing to shift the blame from the actors (BP, in this case) to “America.” The national Chamber of Commerce has officially endorsed this line of thinking. If you want to yak on about “personal responsibility,” then at least have the logical consistency to apply the rule to everyone. Stop exempting the individuals at the top of the economic pyramid. First and foremost, what is required from Americans is a demand for honest behavior from those in power. If that were accomplished, the rest of the chips would stack up properly. (Among other side effects, a steep rise in the price of gasoline, as gov’t subsidies would end, ending the artificial deflation of prices.)

    It appears to me that most of the people in this group would be qualified readers of a new book that was just published, “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me).”

    And, BTW, what is the pollution index of the mfg of the batteries in my hybrid? And what is the environmental cost of disposing of them, when they have to be replaced in 7-10 years?


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