In the wake of the horrendous and frighteningly ongoing BP oil spill are coming calls to boycott BP. As I write this, a Facebook page for that purpose has close to 600,000 fans and if you plug “boycott BP” into Google, you get almost one million results. It’s understandable that people are looking for someone to blame for this ecological disaster, and boycotts are popular, and sometimes effective, ways for consumers to get a message to a company about their dissatisfaction. However, why not boycott Exxon Mobil Corp., which still hasn’t paid damages to victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill? Or why about Royal Dutch/Shell, which is involved in the civil war in the Niger Delta? Or Chevron Corp., which I’m told is trying to suppress a documentary about oil-waste damage in Ecuador? Or maybe we should just boycott them all!
Removing petroleum from our lives would, of course, be very difficult, if not impossible. But, we need to move in that direction. As columnist Daniel Gross, writing at Slate last weekend, pointed out, rather than drilling deeper or finding new ways to liberate oil from the sand or rocks, “we should apply our collective engineering smarts to figuring out ways to use less energy.”
And the path to using less energy doesn’t require just engineering smarts. Individuals can play an immediate role. Do we really need to fly half way around the world for a vacation? Do twenty world leaders and their thousands of buddies really need to converge on Toronto for a photo op later this month? Do we really need to jump in the car to go to the corner store? Natural Life Magazine readers are at the forefront of the move to use fewer hydrocarbons. And the cover feature in our upcoming July/August issue provides great advice about how to replace four wheels with two. Let’s make that a beginning….