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Well, after all, it was you
from the July 2010 Star Beacon
by Lynne McTaggart
posted June 25, 2010
Last week I watched the spectacle of US Senators behaving very
righteously as they scrambled over each other to shoot BP chief
executive Tony Hayward, with Hayward clumsily dodging their
The culpability for the Gulf Oil spill is being laid at Hayward’s
door, as an example of individual corporate irresponsibility in
the drive for ever increasing profits. There is some truth to
that, of course. Cutting corners on safety for profit is
essentially the daily bread of corporate life. The banking
industry and ongoing world financial crisis immediately come to
Nevertheless, to believe that the entire problem stems from a
single corporation’s negligence is to miss the entire lesson of
this experience and its important role in our evolution.
AN OILY WORLD
BP is being demonized at the sole villain of the piece here, but
the fact is that BP, like every other petroleum company, is simply
doing what any corporation does, which is responding to demand.
The modern industrial world is created from oil. Oil doesn’t just
power our automobiles and heat our houses. Most everything
manufactured these days, in some way, derives from oil. Virtually
all plastics are made from petroleum. Most prescription and
over-the-counter drugs have some form of petroleum at their base,
as do most cosmetics.
As I write this, the lipstick and mascara I’m wearing contain
petroleum. The Apple computer I’m writing on is made of
petroleum-based plastic. Even if I were to leave my car at home
and bike to my office, I’d be driving over petroleum-based
asphalt. I could try to save oil by eating by candlelight tonight,
but I’d still be using a petroleum product. If I need to call my
husband or children later, I’ll be speaking to them via an
instrument made of petroleum. We eat organic food and use
eco-products in this house, but we, like everyone else, are
drowning in petroleum.
Detergents, soaps, rubber bands, almost all cosmetics, perfumes,
most of what we clean our houses with, flooring, sports equipment,
contact lenses, disposable diapers, paints and paint thinners,
garden hoses, many components of automobiles like batteries, most
modern boats, virtually every toilet seat, balloons, shower
curtains, crayons, golf balls, dental floss and toothbrushes,
sunglasses, condoms — all this and much more are made of oil.
Every aspect of our modern-day food production and consumption
requires petroleum, from the fertilizer used to grow it, to the
mechanized processing used to produce it, the trucks used to
distribute it, the refrigerators and plastic packaging required to
keep it fresh, and the ovens used to cook it.
Given the fact that oil has been so interwoven with modern mod-con
life, it is not surprising that the earth is running out of it.
All Western petroleum companies know this. Big Oil only owns some
10 per cent of global oil and gas reserves. All the rest is in the
hands of the state-owned oil companies of Saudi Arabia, Russia,
Venezuela and Iran. That is why they are having to look deeper and
deeper into the earth to find whatever stores are left.
All the petroleum companies are moving out further into the sea
and drilling deeper to get oil. There are 12 deepwater oil fields
in the Gulf of Mexico deeper than 40m, and 15 off the coast of
Brazil. Besides BP’s Deepwater Horizon, 31 other rigs drill in
deep water in the Gulf, seven of them just set up in 2008. About a
third of our oil is now being obtained offshore, with a marginal
amount from shallow waters.
Deep water drilling is inherently risky. The difference in
temperature between the water (at 41 degrees Fahrenheit) and the
boiling oil puts enormous stress on all equipment used. The
platform itself is unstable. But the biggest problem of all is the
extraordinary pressure in the underground reservoirs, in which
every square centimeter contains the weight of an ordinary-sized
Every time you drill into the rock layers of the seabed you risk a
Deepwater Horizon type explosion, in which the fuel shoots out of
the ground and cannot be contained. Deepwater drilling is an
accident waiting to happen.
No matter how careful an individual company, there is no plan B if
something goes wrong. Containment of an explosion requires
cutting-edge measures that essentially haven’t been invented yet.
The point here is that as tragic as this explosion was, for
the animals, for the Gulf residents whose livelihood is destroyed,
and for all of us watching helplessly as the oil slick grows the
size of a small country, it was necessary and important to our
evolution. Giant ecological disaster seems to be the only way to
wake up human beings to the need to do things differently.
In a sense, it was also necessary that it happen in America
— and I say this as an American myself. The world consumes 85
million barrels of oil per day, and America consumes nearly
one-quarter of that. America is the sole country in the world that
refused to sign the Kyoto Agreement. It is one of the few
developed countries to spend almost none of its public money on
alternatives to the automobile, such as high rail travel. Unlike
Europe, the US continues to eschew high taxes on gasoline as a
disincentive to drive.
Many of the Senators who were so high-handed about Tony
Hayward have consistently opposed a Clean Energy Bill and
attempted to pass a bill preventing the Environmental Protection
Agency from enforcing pollution standards against greenhouse
emissions. In fact, the petroleum industry oils a fair portion of
BIGGER THAN SUVs
Lately, we Americans have cut back on our reliance on big
SUVs and cars in general, but the problem is far greater than
driving a little less.
We must all realize that this is no one company’s or country’s
problem. We don’t just have to drive differently. The Gulf
disaster signals the end of a petroleum-based world. What this
requires is that we come to terms with the fact that we have to
live differently, produce things differently, consume things
It’s time for us all to take responsibility for Deepwater
Horizons by doing whatever we can, individually and collectively,
to evolve a society that does not depend on oil at every turn.
Since the Gulf of Mexico explosion, words from an old
Rolling Stone song keep rattling around in my head. The song is
Sympathy for the Devil, and the line goes like this:
I shouted out, ‘Who killed the Kennedys?’
Well, after all, it was you and me.
I have an intention that we heal the area, but mostly that
we heal ourselves and our division from the natural world. It is
important to view the Gulf disaster, however painful, as something
positive — nature’s early warning signal to make changes in our
lives now before it is too late.
Lynne McTaggart is the award-winning author of five
books, including the international bestselling sensations The
Field and The Intention Experiment. She is an internationally
recognized spokesperson on the science of spirituality.
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