Sunday, June 13, 2010

I caused the oil spill.


I can't post another picture of a dead pelican— we have all seen too many.  But this is something close to the color of the oil that washes up on beaches all over the world, most especially on the southern United States coast at the present time.  

I remember camping along the Mediterranean many years ago and hitch-hiking back to England with oil sludge still sticking to me and my camping gear— it probably came from a ship discharging or leaking.  It is truly horrible, nasty, life-suffocating stuff.  It makes me self conscious and remorseful for the how and why I caused this to happen.  I understand the argument that there are a number of companies who may have cut some corners in the interests of themselves or their shareholders, and that needs to be addressed.   But I also understand the actual, long-term problem to be me— the one who wants cheap gas and all these other things that derive and are manufactured from crude oil.  We are the motivators for the oil companies' activities.  I am going to resolve to try and use less of these things and I am prepared to pay a lot more for them so the oil can be extracted safely and that we look after the planet and our animals and birds first.  (Wouldn't we all want to pay more?)

I wish the government would help.   Here's a partial list of those items that we need the oil for:
  • plastic gadgets, tools, bags, toys
  • candles
  • clothing (polyester, nylon)
  • hand lotions
  • petroleum jelly
  • perfume
  • dishwashing liquids
  • ink
  • bubble gums
  • car tires
  • ammonia
  • heart valves
  • Ethane and other short-chain alkanes which are used as fuel
  • Diesel
  • Fuel oils
  • Petrol
  • Jet fuel
  • Kerosene
  • Liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
  • Natural gas
  • Alkenes (olefins) which can be manufactured into plastics or other compounds
  • Lubricants (produces light machine oils, motor oils, and greases, adding viscosity stabilizers as required).
  • Wax, used in the packaging of frozen foods, among others.
  • Sulfur or Sulfuric acid. These are a useful industrial materials. Sulfuric acid is usually prepared as the acid precursor oleum, a byproduct of sulfur removal from fuels.
  • Bulk tar.
  • Asphalt
  • Petroleum coke, used in speciality carbon products or as solid fuel.
  • Paraffin wax
  • Aromatic petrochemicals to be used as precursors in other chemical production.

1 comment:

  1. It's daunting when we consider how many things in our everyday lives come from oil. Like you, I try to omit or limit oil-produced goods in my life. It's really not that difficult. Funny how many people are surprised that I haven't owned a car since I was a college student. They think that would be a huge burden. At times it's inconvenient, but for the most part I find it liberating.