The ongoing BP / Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is a sickening object lesson in the evils of oil. Of course it’s just the latest in an ugly line of spills that have occurred over the years. BP itself has a long track record of safety and environmental violations.
I still have vivid tv memories of sludge-coated birds and other wildlife affected by the Exxon Valdez. The impact of oil accidents on nature and wildlife has been tragic, but people haven’t exactly been spared. Spills have destroyed farms, communities and ecosystems around the world. Oil industry pollution gave us 1,400 cancer deaths in Ecuador, and some on home turf too – in Brooklyn for example.
They brought us both Iraq wars (death toll for the latest: more than 4,700 coalition troops and perhaps as many as a million Iraqi civilians). They have been accused of participating in murders in Nigeria and Indonesia among other places. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New Jersey backed the Nazis in the lead-up to World War II and engineered a coup in Iran in 1953.
Of course the list could go on and on and on. Cherry picking a few of the most egregious examples doesn’t really do justice to the offenses of oil, but the real point is we are all complicit.
Which brings us to the question at the top of this post…
If you drive a car, then the answer is yes, you have killed people. We consumers of oil are complicit in the deaths and suffering of millions of our neighbors on this planet. Not a fun thing to think about when you start up your car.
In most parts of the country, it’s not easy to opt out of driving, but in cities like San Francisco we have a choice. Do you live in a city? Do you drive a car to work most days, when you could easily bike or take public transportation? If your answer is yes, then the real question is why?