Photo: Suzannah Evans, Oceana.org
The clock keeps ticking, the oil keeps gushing, and Simran Sethi is struggling to stay focused on her house's flooded basement, busted air-conditioning, fallen tree limbs and seemingly endless organizational needs amid one of the worst environmental disasters in American history.
Despite the house chaos, I recognize that I am in such a better place than many folks in the Gulf of Mexico. Hotels are empty, restaurants are slow, and the people who once earned their livings from the seas are now exposed to numerous toxic chemicals as they attempt to clean it up.
Jackie Savitz, senior campaign director of the clean water nonprofit Oceana, called in from the Gulf to give me a better sense of what she's seeing on the ground.
Listen to Simran's interview with Jackie Savitz (edited by Jessica Sain-Baird) now.
Jackie explains the challenges facing cleanup crews, the ecological ramifications of chemical dispersants and the ways in which we can use this painful lesson to create better practices and policies that wean us off oil and lead us to authentic energy independence.
The truth is, we are soaking in it. According to the Energy Information Administration, we Americans consume nearly 19.5 million barrels—or 819 million gallons—of oil each day. That's almost one-fourth of global consumption. A 2003 EIA study estimated there were about 41 billion barrels of unrecovered oil in the Gulf region. Offshore drilling in the Gulf would have recovered enough oil to satisfy our thirst for roughly six years. All this destruction...for six years of oil.
Oil has seeped into nearly every facet of our lives. The biggest and most obvious is fuel for transportation, but petroleum is also present in plastics, pesticides and fertilizers, paraffin wax used in candles and crayons, caulking, asphalt, beauty products like deodorant and hair dye and more. Investments in the petroleum industry are also a likely part of our pension funds if we're lucky enough to have them.
It's time to squeeze the oil out of our kitchens and bathrooms, reduce our reliance on our rides or at least opt for the most efficient rides possible, and scrutinize our investments. It's also time to encourage our elected officials to build a cleaner, greener economy by supporting legislation that increases renewable energy resources and halts offshore drilling to ensure we never face a disaster like this again.
For more updates, follow me on Twitter @simransethi.
Simran Sethi is an award-winning journalist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. For more information on Sethi, visit SimranSethi.com and follow her on Twitter @simransethi.
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Published on June 29, 2010