First written, June 10, 2010
An interesting discussion on Alternet recently suggested that one way we may demonstrate our anger at BP is by boycotting BP -- buying our gas at a different dealer. This led eventually to the assertion that individual gas stations are owned by private individuals who have "nothing" to do with where BP drills, &c. The boycott would simply hurt the wrong people -- our neighbors and local taxpayers. Besides, it's not just gasoline that comes from oil and it's not just BP who screws up. Along with coal, oil powers electrical generators and IS the plastic that delivers our beloved bottled water, soda, styrofoam cups, energy drinks, toys and beauty products. So, gosh, everybody's sorry, everybody wants to demonstrate indignation, but boycotting BP gas stations might not be the best answer.
So how WOULD we show our righteous indignation with those who created the oil spill in the Gulf -- if we really meant it? Or for that matter, our anger with mountaintop removal for coal? Or oil shale drilling and water pollution, dirty air and global warming (only if you believe the science, of course)?
BOYCOTT THEM ALL! Stop using coal, gas and oil, Stupid! And how might we do that? Stop using coal, gas and oil! Really, it's just that simple.
But nothing is just that simple ... we're addicted to oil, plastic and electricity, fast food. We think we have no alternatives. And as addicts of all sorts, without outside help, we're likely to stay addicted. We'll find a dealer, no matter what ... and we'll pay the price to get a fix. (Now, I know I'm not speaking to you, dear reader, for you and I are the most environmentally aware people on the planet and we NEVER act irresponsibly.)
BP's oily pelicans, dead shrimp and sticky beaches got you pissed off? Turn to Exxon. Exxon's crashing tankers piss you off? Turn to Shell or Mobil. That'll work! We can promise to stop -- or at least cut down -- soon, like we always have. But we all know that as long as there is a dealer, we'll find the drugs.
Now ... since we are all addicted, and most of us know that we need help, we could ask our clean and sober government to help set us on the path to recovery. But we need it to do more than to tell us to just say "no". We need a hefty tax on carbon-based fuels. It's basic market economics: higher prices, less consumption. It's working with our tobacco addiction, isn't it? Those who want it, pay up appropriately, and the revenue goes back into research, prevention and treatment.
Such a recovery proposal has been on the table for many years. It's a tax that bases its rates on the relative amount of carbon in the fuel supplied. Fuels with greater potential negative impact are taxed at higher rates. It's called CARBON TAX (not "cap and trade on wall street"). Those who sell or use the most and most destructive fuels, pay more. Those who reduce consumption, use less destructive sources of energy or use less energy absolutely, profit the most. Included in the plan is a national per capita redistribution so that an equal share of revenue from the tax is returned to every household (or similar).
It's a long road. Take a step. Look further into Carbon Tax (http://www.carbontax.org/). Call (202) 224-3121 and tell your Congressperson what you think.