Like everyone, I've been thinking a lot about the BP spill and listening to the news as attempt after attempt to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico fails. Lots of blame and rhetoric and boycott emails floating around the internet have found their way to me as well.
To me, it isn't about blaming BP or anybody else. It;s about the level of risk we as consumers are willing to accept in exchange for a given price at the pump. So my question for everybody is, what's your personal sliding scale? How much more would you be willing to pay for fuel if it significantly reduced the risk of an an environmental disaster this large from happening?
Would you pay twice as much at the pump in exchange for half the risk? More? If the risk of such a disaster was reduced by 75%, would you accept a price for gasoline that caused you to have to fundamentally change your lifestyle? Would you accept having to move closer to where you work, would you deign to ride public transit? Would you accept additional residential density and maybe even a mix of commercial uses in your neighborhood, if it meant a world where we didn't have to drive every day? Would you accept a world where more of the stuff you use had to come from closer to where you live, where food was more expensive and certain foods were only seasonally available?
I'm not sure what my cost/risk calculus is yet, but pointing the finger at BP or big oil of the federal Mineral management Service or whomever is foolish. We all did this. We have accepted a world where gas is cheap and the risk of environmental catastrophe is high enough to allow this to happen.