BP Oil Spill: Who’s to Blame?

16 Jul

by Claire Lee

Oil Spill (aerial view)

The biggest fear of every political leader is unexpected events, especially those beyond our own control. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill has proved itself to be just that: the nation’s biggest fear. It is a massive ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the spill stems from a sea floor oil gusher that resulted from the April 20th, 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling explosion, which killed 11 people and injured 17 others.

Oil-covered pelicans

In result of BP’s careless and negligent drilling, the entire Gulf of Mexico has become a hazard to all of its inhabitants. The gusher is estimated at flowing 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The spill threatens environmental disaster due to petroleum toxicity and oxygen depletion. More than 400 species of marine animals live in the Gulf of Mexico and are at risk. Everyday, many sea turtles, seagulls, pelicans, and other marine animals die suffocating in the oil. Birds and fish covered in oil are crawling deeper and deeper into marshes, never to be seen again. Fish and other wildlife are fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast; but this is not a good thing as one may think. The presence of the animals close to shore suggests that their natural habitats are so polluted; it has been deemed impossible to survive in.

The almost two-month-old oil spill has generated an environmental calamity unprecedented in U.S. history as tens of millions of gallons of crude oil have been discharged into the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. Day by day, scientists in boats have tallied up dead birds, sea turtles, and other animals, but the toll has been surprisingly small given the extreme size of the disaster. The latest figures show that 783 birds, 353 turtles and 41 mammals have died — numbers that pale in comparison to what happened after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989, when 250,000 birds and 2,800 otters are believed to have died. Due to the vast nature of the spill, scientists are able to locate only a small fraction of the dead animals. Many will probably never be found after sinking to the bottom of the sea or getting scavenged by other marine life.

In addition to the oil growing slick on the surface, scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 300 feet high in spots. This discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be, and possibly is, substantially worse than the estimates of those given by the government and BP.

During a big crisis like this, we look up to a leadership for guidance and support. We look for someone to take responsibility for what has happened. As millions of gallons of crude oil continues to spew into the Gulf of Mexico, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon collapsed oil rig that caused the environmental and economic disaster is trying desperately to elude responsibility for what has already cost the lives of 11 workers and threatens to become the worst oil catastrophe in U.S. history. BP has refused to acknowledge the oil spill as their responsibility; they ought to take control of their actions and the situation they have caused. It is only right if BP, as the ones responsible, should take responsibility and make more of an effort in fixing the leakage. If they hadn’t drilled the pipe at such low levels underneath the sea floor, the pipe would not have exploded. But it is not just BP who is at fault; it is ours too. We, as the American public, are indirectly at fault.

This due to commercialism at its highest. We see all the commercials on television for luxury cars: Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, Range Rover, and many more. As fascinating and “perfect” these cars may be, they have one imperfect flaw; they are gas-guzzlers. This would not have been a problem unless the average American driver resisted the urge to buy such a car.

The American driver is addicted to oil. We cannot walk, but must always drive the car, whether it may be to a supermarket 20 minutes, or a Starbucks just a few blocks away. The U.S. consumes 400 million gallons of gas a day, and one barrel of oil is equivalent to 42 gallons of gas. That figure equates to 20 million barrels of oil everyday, of which 9.286 million barrels are used per day for motor gasoline from the nation.

It’s not only commercialism that fuels our desires for unnecessary and wasteful luxuries, but also capitalism. Capitalism encourages people to spend and waste more resources in order to become wealthier and make more money. Establishment economists like to sing the praises of capitalist markets, of how they allegedly provide consumers with their needs and wants based on supply and demand. Consumers make choices and vote with their dollars: no dollars, no votes. If it weren’t for commercialism and capitalism, we wouldn’t be encouraged to buy gas-guzzling cars and spend more gas and oil resources. BP wouldn’t have had to drill a pipe at such hazardous deep levels in the Gulf.

Although the fault of the crisis is both BP, and indirectly, the American driver, it is not enough just to find someone to blame and scapegoat. We must do all that we can in helping to save the Gulf. The disaster of the oil spill can be fixed. Good-bye, polar bears. Hello, oil-covered pelicans.

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