He takes on the meme that we, individual citizens of the United States (and individual citizens of any other country that uses oil and oil products) are to blame for BP’s wild well and reckless practices.
Most of the folks who have made such claims have, I think, good intentions. Their idea is that, by blaming individuals for the incompetence and recklessness of Buccaneer Petroleum (as if incompetence and recklessness are inevitable results of peak oil), they can shame the populace into demanding changes.
Shame is seldom a good motivator and holier-than-thou does not win friends and influence people. I commend Brendan’s post to your attention (warning: language). He points out that most of us did not create a petroleum culture; we were born into it.
Here’s a nugget:
1. Most of “us” don’t get to set energy policy: the most we can do is harass our politicians to do the right thing. We saw how well that worked out for a public option, for financial reform, and for the Iraq War. We may be a representative democracy, but it’s often not that representative. And when we try to replace bad representatives, we face the full weight and strength of the system: Blanche Lincoln, who helped carve out every good thing about health insurance reform out of the bill was supported by the White House and the entire Democratic establishment in the recent Arkansas primary. Other examples include the Democratic establishment’s support for Ed Case in Hawaii, their support for Arlen Specter in PA, their refusal to step in for Ned Lamont when he won the Connecticut primary in 2006, their opposition to Donna Edwards and support for corrupt Al Wynn in 2008, and their warm welcome to Joe Lieberman after he campaigned against Obama! Many of “us” are doing our damnedest to change the way we live, and many of “them” constitute massive roadblocks.
3: Pursuant to 2, if the government would really get behind energy alternatives perhaps the rest of “us” wouldn’t be so trapped by THEIR choices. Reagan’s the obvious goat for doing away with Carter’s tax credits for solar, and god knows the republicans practically ejaculate petroleum, but the cast of the energy farce includes Democrats like Kennedy (anti-wind power in Massachusetts), Rockefeller (big coal supporter), Dingell (has opposed raising fuel efficiency standards for YEARS), and Landrieu (still shilling for oil drilling despite what’s happened to her state).
I find the rich folks on Martha’s Vineyard–and similar locales–who are fighting a wind farm in their part of the world because they fear it might ruin their view to be particularly obnoxious–and, as most of them likely consider themselves “progressive,” hypocritical. Pretty soon I’m likely to have oil in my aquatic backyard, though the odds are that it will not actually hit the beach ten miles east of where I sit.
They can look at a windmill way off in the distance just barely over the horizon standing there quietly generating electricity for Christ’s sake. Whatever danger a windmill may pose for wildlife, it cannot do in a decade what Buccaneer Petroleum has done every hour for the past two months and counting.
I shall shut up now, for the next sentence descends into language I prefer to keep elsewhere than in this place.
Personally, I find wind farm windmills to be rather majestic in an industrial reality sort of way.