This is the fifth in a series of blog posts about recovering from the Gulf oil spill and from oil dependency overall. The first introduces the series.
Let’s say you’re sickened and dismayed by the Gulf oil spill and want to do something about it. You’ve been watching images of oiled pelicans, of slicks killing marshland, of unemployed anglers and Gulf residents in shock and fury. You can’t believe the inability of both BP and the federal government to contain this spill after more than two months. Maybe you’re one of the many who tune in to the live feed of the Gulf spill each day. It’s devastating, and you wish you could do something, but you feel helpless.
I’m guessing many of us have felt these things – I know I have – and so as I write here, part of what I want to communicate, as well as remind myself, is this: We are not helpless. Maybe we can’t dive under the sea to plug the spewing Deepwater Horizon well, but there is much we can do to stem the demand for oil that is the ultimate cause of this disaster, to help those suffering as a result of this spill, and to advocate change.
Petroleum products are such a part of our lives that it’s hard sometimes to see how to stop using them (in fact, I first drafted this post with a petroleum product, a plastic pen filled with petroleum-based ink, and decided as I was writing that I must look for a source of pens made without petrochemicals; know of any?). As I hope I began to show in my posts of the last few days, though, there are ways to cut back, ways that can both help us withdraw from our oil addiction and, in the long run, help the people of the Gulf.
We can make a difference both with personal action and with political action. In the first few of my planned 30-posts-in-30-days I’ve touched on personal actions that can make a difference, and in future posts I’ll cover more. As far as political actions go, there seem to be a swelling number out there now which address the crisis in the Gulf. One I discovered yesterday is Hands Across the Sand, a show of support for cleaner energy instead of offshore drilling. Hands Across the Sand started in Florida and since the Gulf spill, has grown into an international movement. There’s a Hands Across the Sand event tomorrow, June 26th, at 12 noon; the website lists locations around the U.S. and the world. I’m inviting others to join me in supporting this where I live near Lake Superior.
For political action, I also believe in the power of the pen, the power of writing. I believe in it partly because, since writing Divorce Your Car!, I have had the honor of being approached by several people who've said, "Your book changed my life." But you don't have to write a whole book for writing to work this way. Even small bits of writing can do it. Just sending postcards to the Prez or to our Reps in Congress saying something like “Please help the Gulf economy shift to cleaner energy” will help that point of view get counted. It might not bring immediate action, but it can add up to a tipping point. Writing does make a difference, and it can make a difference with the Gulf oil spill as well as with getting us off oil.