Wouldn’t it just be ironic if the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ended up destroying our oil-fired civilization? What if, having punctured a hole a mile beneath the sea, BP was never able to stop the gushing of oil?

What if the slick now devastating the coastal marine ecology and economy of Louisiana and the Gulf states just kept spreading, turning the entire Gulf of Mexico into a giant pool of crude oil, then seeping out into the Atlantic and, driven by hurricanes, up the coast, across the sea, such that four or five years from now, all the oceans of the world bled to death? We’d be drowning in oil.

Is it possible we’re going the way of the dinosaurs? Extinction? Decomposition? Fossil fuel? Not with a bang, but an oil slick?

Given the magnitude of the BP disaster, it’s natural to blame British Petroleum for its appalling ineptitude, the Minerals Management Service for its willfully lax oversight, and the Obama administration for not responding forcefully enough. Once we get done with the official finger-pointing, however, maybe we ought to start looking in the mirror.

Do you own a car? Two? Three? A boat? Snowmobile? Lawnmower? ATV? Is your house much bigger than it needs to be? Do you own more than one home? Do you heat them with oil? Do you fly? Do you feel guilty about your part in the BP oil spill? Probably not, huh? Your cars get 30 mpg, your house is well insulated, and you keep the thermostat at 62 degrees, so it’s not your fault if the world’s thirst for oil is destroying the planet.

Shortly before the April 20 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon off-shore oil drilling platform, President Obama appeared ready to accede to the “Drill, baby, drill!” chants of Sarah Palin and pals, making conciliatory noises about expanding off-shore drilling. Heck, he was even making conciliatory noises about building more nuclear power plants. Now he’s using the BP spill as an occasion to promote clean, renewable energy sources. He’s in denial. I’m in denial. You’re in denial. We’re all drowning in deni-oil.

We just don’t want to believe that our comfortable lives, dependent as they are on cheap oil, are in any way responsible for the Gulf of Mexico being polluted by millions of gallons of oil. And no politician is ever going to get elected by telling us we can’t keep living this way.

For that matter, there are even semi-intelligent human beings who don’t believe that a century of pumping oil-fired and coal-fired pollution into the atmosphere has had any effect on the natural environment. Climate change is a hoax, they say, a conspiracy perpetrated by scientists who profit from research grants and power-mad politicians. Yuh, right. And O.J. Simpson is an innocent man desperately searching for his wife’s killer.

My advice: look in the mirror. Let me know if you see a dinosaur.

Sidebar Elements

The Universal Notebook is Edgar Allen Beem’s personal look at the world around him.