It's an incomprehensible amount, but this real-time ticker (source: PBS) gives one some idea of the rapidity of which entire ecosystems are being killed. It is easy to feel helpless and hopeless in the face of this massive disaster, but now more than ever, is the time to do something about it. Politicians and big oil are playing the blame game, and the liability for this spill is already spinning out into a very complicated legal web which will no doubt result in one of the largest, probably most protracted legal battle in history. However, more important than who will pay monetary damages is to acknowledge that the earth, and by extension, we who inhabit earth, will suffer damages that are only going to get worse. It's critical to stop this continual gushing and more importantly, ensure it never happens again.
No other country consumes more oil than America. America consumes the majority (more than 20%) of the world's oil, but has less than two percent of the world's oil reserves. We need to reduce, if not eliminate entirely, our "oil addiction," and pour our efforts into developing clean, sustainable methods to power our lives. If our earth becomes an uninhabitable wasteland, it won't really matter who cashes out at the end of the day, or who lands in jail as a result of gross negligence. Ultimately, we all will pay.
It's hard to remember, but before healthcare reform and related hoopla took over the country's attention last summer, the House had passed "the most sweeping climate change policy ever considered by Congress." The bill aimed to incrementally cap America's production of greenhouse gases, reducing it by 83% by 2050, mandating that 15% of the nation's electricity come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2020, and investing in renewable energies and sustainable technologies. The effort in the Senate stalled last fall. When the Copenhagen climate summit came and went, with disappointing, diffident results, by the start of the year, climate legislation seemed to have reached a standstill if not taken several slides back.
With the Gulf oil spill gushing (it's still going! yet it started at the end of April. April!), President Obama began pushing publicly once again for an energy and climate bill. And in the aftermath of the spill, polls show that most Americans support strong actions to reform climate legislation.
Yet, a vote in the Senate this week suggests bleak prospects for any climate legislation change. The issue was a GOP proposal to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases. While that resolution (thankfully) failed by a vote of 47-53, the narrow gap demonstrates that even in the wake of the massive oil spill, Congress still remains divided over how best to address climate change.
This is unfathomable to me; we couldn't ask for a more violent wake-up call for change than this oil spill. At least, I don't want to imagine one. Now, more than ever, it is critical to take a stand, make your voice heard, and contact your Senator, urging him or her to vote in favor of a change to support new, renewable clean energy. In addition to writing and calling your Senators and Representatives, you can add your name in support of President Obama's clean energy plan, and sign this petition (via MoveOn.org), which will be sent to the White House and Congress, demanding an end to America's addiction to oil.