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On the Oil Spill

I haven't really commented on the oil spill yet. I have a few thoughts, so I'll try to keep this post to-the-point.

(from Flickr user iampeas)

First, I keep hearing and reading statistics about how much oil is floating out in the Gulf. One of the more interesting numbers is that amount of oil in the Gulf is so great that it could power the entire U.S. for a few hours. A few hours? To me that says more about the insane amount of energy we consume on a daily basis than it does about the amount of oil that's been spilled.

Second, the fact that the oil spill has not really been reflected in the world market price for the commodity shows just how insignificant the spilled oil is having on global supply levels. This is important because it suggests how fragile the whole system is. Only a tiny fraction of the overall amount of consumed oil can have devastating economic and environmental consequences if something goes wrong.

Third, I've been hearing about people boycotting BP gasoline stations as a means of "voting with their dollars". These demonstrations are fruitless if the alternative is buying the same gasoline at an Exxon or Shell station. While BP is getting most of the bad PR, it's oil companies in general that are ultimately to blame. Transocean, the rig contractor that BP was using, contracts with many different oil companies. This incident could have happened to any of them.

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