Gulf spill: What oil habits will you change?
I'm not an activist. But the BP oil spill prompted to me to commit to using less petroleum.
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It is a deep wound in the minds, hearts, and yes, the pockets of anyone whose life has been enriched by the beauties of the Gulf Coast. The wildlife, the natural waterways, and yes, even the alligators: all those things we love are under dire threat.
The view from Louisiana
My home town is Sulphur, La., a relatively small place with a powerhouse football team and a heavily oil-dependent economy. My father, uncles, grandfather, and some cousins have all put in time working the oil fields of rural Louisiana, the rigs along the coast, or the refineries that dot our cities.
It’s fully understandable, then, that weaning ourselves from oil dependence has never been a popular proposition in Louisiana.
In fact, environmental awareness in the state has been embarrassingly bad. When I was in elementary school, teachers taught us “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but there were no recycling facilities in town. I once encouraged a woman in Louisiana to buy a hybrid vehicle, and she stared blankly at me as though I’d suggested she should eat cardboard for dinner.
But the BP oil calamity is changing that.
The people of Louisiana and oil-dependent communities throughout the country are waking up to the realities of this dependence.
Every time I call my dad, he is angrier about the damage being done to his home. Meanwhile, his barber is angry because he thinks the media is making too much of the oil spill and hurting Louisiana’s reputation.
As a community, our journey has only begun. We’ve all known for years that we need to reduce our oil dependence, and we’ve known how much damage an oil spill could do, but we’ve hidden behind a deceptively comforting mantra: It won’t happen to me.
Well, now it has happened to me. It’s happened to all of us, and we can’t afford to make excuses any longer. We must take every step we can – small or large – to reduce our oil consumption and reduce our dependence on oil both foreign and local.
Those of us who grew up in the Gulf should now lead the way, because we’re seeing firsthand the toll this oil gusher is taking on our land and sea.
Growing up, my family often went fishing in the Gulf. We would sometimes tie our boat to a leg of an oil rig to keep us from drifting off.
At the end of the day, a pod of dolphins sometimes joined us on our way back to shore. They’d swim alongside us, eager for a snack. Now, like everything else that makes its home in the Gulf, they are threatened by this ongoing manmade disaster.
Location of oil rigs
Many Gulf oil rigs are just a few miles from shore. If any of these rigs sprung a leak, it wouldn’t take long for the land to be destroyed.