OIL ALL OVER TROUBLED WATERS
One of my priests has on several occasions pointed out to me that I am committing a “sin” of omission by not devoting some space in this blog to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He has reminded me of the Church’s concern for the environment and the protection of creation, God’s earliest gift to the planet. Of course he is right but it is hard when one’s car gets only 19-20 miles per gallon in the city as mine does to get too deep into the “muck” when part of the problem is my foolish consumption.
We have oil rigs in places where there is oil but there probably should be no rig because of our insatiable appetite of gasoline. We have oil rigs offshore in order to become less dependent on uncertain foreign sources of oil, some of whom are friendly, some of whom are hostile, and some of whom are whatever the prevailing winds in the Mideast suggest they be from one moment to the next. The nightly news talks incessantly these days about the warning signs of a potential disaster or meltdown which were ignored. I saw warning signs every time there was a hurricane anywhere in the Caribbean sea and the rigs in the Gulf would shut down, gas would increase dramatically in price, people would complain, the storm would pass, the workers w0uld return to their rigs and life went on. And therein, it seems to me, lies the fundamental problem – life goes on.
There is no question in my mind that large multinationals like BP and EXXON cut corners to keep up with the supply and demand and make huge profits in the meantime. Why should they not? We learned little, it seems, from the days several years ago and gas prices rose to about $4.00 per gallon. Everyone pointed the finger at the oil companies but we should never forget that when the index finger is pointed at someone else, the thumb points back to ourselves. We simply ignore the threats to the environment to satisfy our own needs for gas-guzzlers, lack of mass transit, etc. As for solar energy, we are still in the infancy of those possibilities but as long as heating oil and gasoline are around $2.50, who cares about alternate sources.
Before writing this today, I did an examination of conscience about how I waste precious resources, water, gasoline, electricity. Say what you will about the mega-corporations engaged in energy, it ultimately is the consumer like myself that drives the need for searching for more oil in precarious places. I hope they do not allow drilling off the Florida coast. The western Gulf is proving too close and perilous as it is. But until we rationally as a nation curb our appetite for energy and begin to pursue conservation, I think we can be faulted almost as much as the multinationals. I feel guilty in some ways and also responsible that the oystermen and musselmen and shrimpers and vacationers of the Gulf Coast are today at risk. But I need to end this reflection and drive to North Tampa for a cook-out for our seminarians and prospective seminarians. Of course, I also need to fill my gas tank! What would Saint Francis of Assisi say to me?