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Thoughts on the BP disaster - Rabidly Whimsical Tenacity

Jul. 8th, 2010

01:41 pm - Thoughts on the BP disaster

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So, it’s all going to hell. We’re in day-almost-80 of this mess, and all efforts to fix the poison gushing up from the seabed have failed. Booms haven’t kept the oil out of the marshes. Sea turtles are being incinerated. Bird estuaries are oily messes. Tar balls have washed up on every coast surrounding the Gulf. Louisiana’s seafood industry has been much more than “decimated” – which means “reduced by ten percent” – it’s been destroyed. Waitstaff all over the country are being queried as to the origination of their seafood, the resounding response being “If it’s from Louisiana, we don’t want it.” (Even if the fish is freshwater, from inland, nowhere near the spill.) Fishermen who’ve earned an honest living for generations are being paid to clean up the what they can - that is, if BP’s checks clear, of which there has been some question.

And while of course it’s awful, I’m noticing some people seem to have the wrong idea about some of the events surrounding this mess.

For one, this whole “Boycott BP” thing. (Usually, in all caps, as a FaceBook page, with attendant exclamation points.) I got some news: BP ain’t the only one using that crude – they sell it to everyone else, too. And what’s more, if you boycott & bankrupt them, you know who gets to clean up their mess? Us. We do. The taxpayers.

You wanna stick it to the oil companies? Drive less. Vote for people who want alternative energy sources. Use less oil & gas. Make your home more energy efficient with new windows or appliances. Burn candles in winter for extra heat and have a romantic dinner. Refill water bottles with tap water – it’s better regulated than the bottled stuff, anyway. Shop at local farmers’ markets, or in bulk, and make arrangements with your friends to all go on the same day. Carpool, or *gasp*, take public transportation if you can. Ride your bike for errands. Tell your kid, “Too bad. You can’t have a car til you can buy it & insure it yourself.” Send money to the folks doing the animal cleaning, like these guys. It takes $5000 to rehab a sea turtle, and those little guys need a place to live until we clean up the mess we made of their homes.

A little inconvenience might be worth not poisoning our oceans, and I promise, making arrangements with friends & neighbors to go shopping cuts costs & builds community. Hell, do someone a favor – when I have to drive out to a big store, I ask my neighbors if they need anything. Even if the answer is “no”, lemme tell you, everyone here smiles at me & talks to me, and keeps an eye on my house when I’m gone. It’s nice.

Another thing I’m hearing is the screaming about how BP isn’t letting folks near the spill to take pictures. Scratchy videos are popping up on YouTube as some beleaguered cop turns away yet another wanna-be journalist with an iphone.

Jay has a hazmat clearance, and HE can’t get on site. You most likely don’t know how to properly clean a pelican. You might hurt the pelican. You might hurt yourself. You don’t belong there. You can’t help in this fashion, you don’t know what you’re doing, and you’re just gonna be in the way.

Now, I know that there’s some underhandedness going on. I know BP is doing stuff they’d rather us not see. But I have to have faith that the various professional news agencies, who rely on fearmonging & making deeply uncomfortable nuisances of themselves, will find every scary bad thing they can with which to terrify & enrage us. And they’re better at it, and better connected than you.

I know it sucks. There is no upside to this, aside from changing our behaviour so that we no longer need oil to sustain us. When I was up in Gloucester, Massachusetts, I heard the people there screaming about the wind farms. I thought the windmills were pretty, but that’s just me.

THAT’S the kinda crap that needs to stop. We need more sources of alternative energy, and we need to quit our throwaway culture. (Plastic water bottles, anyone? You know where THOSE come from? Yup. Oil.) You DON’T need every piece of sparkly future-piece-of-landfill geegaw that comes along. You CAN bring a canvas bag with you to pick up some milk. You CAN make a difference.

But screaming “boycott” and impeding the people who are trying to fix this isn’t gonna do it.

Comments:

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From:farranger
Date:July 8th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
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Excellent post.
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From:marrus
Date:July 8th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
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Why thank you, sir. Please spread it around if you're thusly inspired;)
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From:corsetsnpearls
Date:July 8th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!
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From:industrialblues
Date:July 8th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
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Another thing about "boycott bp":

All those BP gas stations are all independently owned/operated. They license the name form BP and that is it. They probably don't even buy their gas from a BP associated distributor.

Boycotting them just hurts your local economy more.
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From:marrus
Date:July 8th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
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Yeah. I feel bad for all those guys:( THEY didn't make this mess.
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From:mhaithaca
Date:July 8th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)

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Yup, even when the BP retailer is selling BP gas and oil, a teensy portion of the sale price, and I mean really teensy, is going to BP. Far more is going to the distributor, the state, the town, the retailer, and even the credit card company than to BP. The vast majority of the impact if you avoid buying from BP gas stations is on the local business owner who has the franchise.

Someone, I don't recall who, suggested going into locally owned BP franchises and buying stuff other than gas, because the local business can use the sales!

Meantime, another forgotten factor is that BP is a huge conglomerate that includes many company names that are used separately. A car racing team just quietly changed the sponsor decal on their car from a BP logo to a Castrol logo, but it's the same company...
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From:margoeve
Date:July 8th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)

THIS

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::Applause::
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From:sippy9cup
Date:July 8th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for this. Your posts on topics like this are always clear, well-informed, and fair. I also appreciate the link to donate to the people who CAN help. As frustrated as many of us are that we have no animal-cleaning skills to offer, we can all probably throw them a couple bucks here and there.
Hopefully this tragedy opens at least some peoples' eyes enough to inspire change and a bigger push to alternative fuel sources.
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From:victorine
Date:July 8th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for so eloquently stating many of the same thoughts I've been thinking but haven't had time to put to paper. And welcome home! I hope your shows went well! Our show madness is just about to begin. At least we have a nice cool basement with windows to do our printing in this year!
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From:marrus
Date:July 8th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
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And welcome to Portland! I've tried to keep tabs on you both as you wended ways westward, and it seems like you're on your way to rebuilding a beautiful life out there.

But we miss you:( And Jay destroyed his legs on that 12 mile ruck march, and could really use your services. He's barely been able to walk since he got home.
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From:dreamtigress
Date:July 8th, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC)
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Awesome and eloquent post, dear. As others have mentioned, you managed to peg some of the things I have thought about this situation. I have posted a link from my LJ.
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From:marrus
Date:July 8th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for helping me:)
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From:marrus
Date:July 8th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)

Re: btw..

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I don't pretend to know all of it, and I know it isn't a transparent system. But I do think there's just as much yelling & obfuscation on the parts of the useless do-gooders as there is on BP.

No one is blameless.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 8th, 2010 08:27 pm (UTC)

Tax Evasion

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Honestly the biggest problem I'm having in this whole thing is hearing how BP is screwing ppl out of money cause they cant produce tax records because its an all (or mostly) cash business. Cause I'm sure if these ppl aren't reporting income the are also collecting some sort of government assistance. Ive also heard that BP is drug testing ppl and they feel it isn't right. I truly feel for all of those effected by this but cant help but get angry about the bullshit on both sides.

Rick
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From:nofunangie
Date:July 8th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
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Amen sister. I've really tried to do my part in "going green". Especially in our business. Steve, as the chef at Desperados, tries not to waste anything. Veggie ends get saved for stocks, citrus peels from fresh juices get candied for desserts, basil stems get saved to make basil infused olive oil. Our used cooking oil goes to a company that uses it for car fuel. I'm trying to convince them to start a recycling program for our bottles and cardboard (though it's hard going) and since I have recycling, I'll try to take what I can home to recycle myself. We're also trying to convince local bars to start carrying biodegradable plastic cups. RBar found out about them and Howards bar supply said if enough bars order them, they will carry them. It's all little things, but the little things add up as you stated.

And I love a canvas tote! I don't get why more people don't use them- they hold more, they're easier to carry, and the don't break on you. I've told people a million times that it surprised me that China was so much more progressive then we were when it came to recycling. In China, you don't just get plastic bags when you buy something, everyone brings their own. So if you need a plastic bag you have to PAY for it- brilliant right? If we stick it to people's wallets they'll learn real quick.
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From:marrus
Date:July 8th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
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Wow, Angie - what great ideas for restaurants! And now that I'm back home, I'm gonna hafta come out & see you:)
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From:onmyownterms
Date:July 8th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)

Wonderful post...

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Amen with the canvas tote... and here's one most people don't think about... take Tupperware with you when you dine out. That way you pack your leftovers in something that can be washed and reused again. The Chinese restaurant I dine at regularly has gotten used to me bringing in my own Tupperware in a canvas bag. :)
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From:marrus
Date:July 8th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)

Re: Wonderful post...

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Terrific idea:)
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From:imortalscot
Date:July 8th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for posting this entry.
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From:dragontdc
Date:July 9th, 2010 12:50 am (UTC)
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Just a note: That "burning candles for extra heat" thing only helps if they are beeswax or soy-based. Paraffin is a petroleum product.
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From:dreamtigress
Date:July 9th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC)
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Unfortunately, most sources warn against using candles for heating purposes, especially during power outages. Mostly that whole, people can't be trusted with open flames thing.
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From:marrus
Date:July 9th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)

Well...

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A, wax can be reused with a new wick, and
B, I don't think oil use needs to end entirely, just as its role as our lifeblood, and
C, People who can't be trusted with scary, dangerous materials occasionally remove themselves from the gene pool;)
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From:arma_padawan
Date:July 9th, 2010 12:00 pm (UTC)
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i love how people believe in evolution in the natural world. The idea that only the fittest, most able-bodied and adaptable organisms will survive is pretty important to biological processes.

yet in the same breath, we have moved away from *evil* laissez faire capitalism (where the same principles of biological evolution work) and replaced it with corporate welfare. Heaven forbid that companies be held accountable to market forces! Heaven forbid that some businesses fail so they could be replaced by younger, more intelligent companies that might offer new jobs, better products, and better services.

the idea that we have to spend out tax money bailing out some mis-managed corporation appalls me.
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From:tagancalera
Date:July 9th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
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BP is a british owned corporation. The government has no power to bail them out.

They can only spend money to protect their resources and their shoreline.

Oh...and they can threaten BP to give up a few Billion dollars with no explanation of how that money will be spent to deal with the problem (if it goes to that at all). Supposedly this is being done to create a pot of money to support victims of the crisis (with no clear definition of requirements of qualification) so that the Executive Branch can have sole decision making on the compensation (no doubt picking their favorite victims that make them look the best to help).
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From:pyroguysr
Date:July 9th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
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Marrus, as always, you express yourself with reason and common sense... which mean's nobody will listen to you! *LOL*

Hey people, realize something... "Boycotting BP" and "putting them out of business" means eliminating 200,000 or more jobs here in the U.S., not just at BP, but every vendor, franchisee and contractor that supports them. The BP gas stations get a FEDERALLY MANDATED MAXIMUM of 5 cents per gallon (put in place during the late '70's "gas crisis" to stem "price gouging"). They don't make their money from gasoline, but from the mini-mart sales.

Like Marrus said (and as I learned in journalism school) "bad news sells." The media is going to sensationalize the news EVERY SINGLE CHANCE THEY GET because it sells advertising for them when you tune in or buy a paper. They don't care if they get the facts right or wrong, as long as it sounds good and they "get a scoop."

And, I was going to do some comparisons of how "W" was treated by the press in HIS crisis vs Obama, but I won't even go there. Too many weird-assed flamers who have more teeth than brain cells.

I'm a conservative libertarian and yet, I try to practice what Marrus lists above - which is more than I can say for many of my "liberal" friends in the Chicago area.

Boycotts don't work. Using resources wisely DOES.
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From:cos
Date:July 10th, 2010 02:16 am (UTC)

Urban efficiency

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On these lists of things people can do to reduce energy demand, I never see the biggest and most effective one: Move to a city, and live in a dense urban area (unless, of course, you already live in such an area). People living in dense urban areas who never bother to think about how they can be energy-efficient use, on average, much much less energy than people who live in suburbs or sprawl or rural areas and do think about it a lot and make a real effort. There are exceptions, but it's overwhelmingly true. There are just so many things that are systemic or structural. Heating a building with 10 occupants takes a lot less energy than heating 5 buildings with two occupants each. Getting clean water to each person in a dense neighborhood is orders of magnitude more efficient than getting that same water to the same number of people in a suburb. Even if you do drive to get groceries, the store is probably nearby - though people living in dense urban areas usually walk to get groceries not because they're thinking about energy efficiency but because it's just more convenient.
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