Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I must have my oil!

First of all I am back on this blog after a hiatus (new job, etc.).

If you are students of my Science Man classes please also see the miniblog here. There you will find short entries on recent news stories. This site is has longer articles with more emphasis on opinions.

In the last month surely the biggest topic in the news (outside of the fascinating events in the Middle East) is energy.

The most interesting stuff has had to do with the BP oil spill (remember that :)). This week comes the news that leftover from the spill is a layer, in some places 10 cm thick of oil and dead organisms on the bottom of the sea. Actually this is not surprising to me as I remember after the Amoco Cadiz oil tanker accident they also found oil embedded in the sediment five years after the spill. So much for these experts who say "most of the oil not coming ashore will evaporate".

Then we have the damning report from the US commission looking into the BP oil spill. Citing "bad management" as a problem, they pointed out how the companies cut costs and put the issues of safety at a lower level.

Even more interesting is the UK report on the same oil spill. It concludes although it accepts that there are problems, no additional measures should be taken as the oil industry is too important. Can everybody say "corporatocracy".

After the oil spill BP has said that they will be more responsible in the future. Then this last weekend we find out that they and their Russian partner will drill for oil in three blocks in the Arctic -- two of which are in National Parks! Note that oil spills in the Arctic are much more a threat than in waters such as the Gulf of Mexico.

And then there are the greenwashing ads by Chevron claiming that they support renewable energy, small business, etc. Yet they just lost a case in Ecuador where they were found guilty of environmental negligence and fined. The instance, resulting from faulty drilling practices (on-land), including dumping of oil contaminated wastewater. The site was owned at the time by Texaco, which Chevron later bought out. So much for corporate responsibility.

The upshot of these and other energy reports recently is that while we are moving forward on renewable energy, the push for more oil is still going on and the oil companies still control the energy future.

Maybe what is needed in a revolution of the magnitude of the one Egypt just had in order to change our energy usage (both in amount and in type of source).

(Another interesting fact: the largest per capita energy users are not in the US, Europe, or even China. They are in the Middle East -- mainly the Gulf states!)

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