British Petroleum (BP oil) pleads GUILTY to 14 CRIMINAL (not negligence) CHARGES in the disastrous Gulf of Mexico spill (link at bottom). Financial reparations are still being calculated and negotiated, but the first fine is $4 billion over five years. My point: this is more proof – as if we need it—that it’s actually cheaper to switch to cleaner, alternative energy technologies than dig in our heels, bury our heads in Middle East sand and keep pushing for oil, gas and coal.
A big argument for delaying our transition from the filthy fuels status quo is the COST of breaking our addiction. BP’s penalties here are the counter-argument. Additional economic payments could be over $20 billion! That is a huge amount of money that could have instead been spent improving existing, cleaner alternatives, like photovoltaics for energy production and batteries for energy storage.
Doing so also creates momentum. The computer industry, with its rapid technological advances, shows the power of the marketplace to drive innovation. Build it and they will come, rather than wait for them to come and maybe then we’ll get off our kiesters and build them. (Parenthetically, for example, I drove the fully electric plug-in Ford Focus at the SF Green Festival last week and was, for the first time in twenty years, impressed by a FoMoCo vehicle. It’s fast, quiet—and clean at the tailpipe. Plug it in to recharge at your house, ideally with solar panels on your roof, and voila, you’re off the grid, today. More on this in another blog.)
For the minority who still insist no causal link exists between fossil fuels consumption and global warming—despite a majority of the world’s scientists insisting there is—consider this: isn’t it smart to stop pouring millions of tons of known carcinogens into our air, water, oceans (gulfs) and soil (and forests)? This is OUR precious, beautiful home we keep polluting. It’s not only selfish and cruel to poison Earth’s environment for other animals, it’s also suicidal. And even economically suicidal as the Gulf of Mexico spill is showing BP.
The stakes are simply too high NOT to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels. Worst case: we were wrong about we the people causing global warming—but because we drastically reduced digging, drilling, fracking, burning, dumping and spilling (hello, BP and Shell and Exxon, et. al.) toxic substances, cancer rates plummet because we humans live in a cleaner, cleaned-up world.
What to do, in one paragraph: Financially and psychically commit to investing and transitioning to myriad cleaner alternative fuels. We have a President Re-elect who says, thank goodness, he believes we’re contributing to global warming, changing weather with more storms and natural disasters, and he’s for alternative energy. Let’s give him the support he’s need to change the status quo.
Where there is strong, collective determination, we the people, as a country, can expand cleaner ways to power our society. Decades ago we summoned our resolve and resourcefulness and put humans on the moon in a short time, an incredible technological feat. We raced into space, raced to the moon, and did things that were science fiction just a few years before. We can all win with a “race to the sun,” harnessing its incredible power, along with myriad other alternative power sources, like wind, biomass, tidal, and even, oh yes, Jimmy Carter’s fuddy-duddy 1970s advice (which works): conservation. You know, fancy high-tech stuff, like insulating our homes, not leaving lights on, wearing a sweater in the winter, lowering typically frigid air-conditioning in millions of corporate offices. Don’t let me get me started on this.
C’mon people, it’s a beautiful world, so let’s keep it. We can do this!
The New York Times BP story: