Everyone I talk to is incredibly frustrated and disheartened by the ongoing environmental catastrophe caused by the April 20th BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and resultant oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s inability to stop the oil leak, as well as our feelings of being powerless in the matter, are at the heart of this palpable frustration and despair. Of course, we can apply pressure on our representatives, as well as express our feelings in public demonstrations, but because of our utter dependence on automobiles in this country, I suspect many people are unwilling or unable to hit the oil companies where it would really hurt — in the pocketbook.
There was an interesting piece on this subject posted on Boing Boing the other day. Let me quote some figures from the article:
- Approximately 9% of the gasoline consumed in the U.S. is from offshore drilling.
- Americans averagely travel 40 miles and consume approximately 1.8 gallons of gasoline per day.
- Reducing our consumption by 9% (the amount represented by offshore drilling) would place us at 1.6 gallons, or 35.8 miles of travel; only 4.2 miles less per day.
As can be seen by the numbers above, even small changes, if undertaken by a large enough number of people, have the potential to affect outcomes. I’m not naive enough to think we’re going to stop offshore drilling solely by riding our bikes to work, but I am optimistic enough to think that the example we set can have an impact on those around us.
For those of you who are already doing what you can to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, thank you and keep up the good work. And for those of you who have been thinking about making a change, there’s no better time than right now.