Has the BP oil spill made you think about changing your energy behavior?

Advocates say simple conservation could save many times the amount of oil being spilled in the Gulf of Mexico every day. Today’s Question: Has the BP oil spill made you think about changing your energy behavior?

  • Dianne

    No, I have not changed my thinking about my energy behavior. It has changed my thoughts about how active I need to be to help our country change our energy habits.

  • Duane

    Not Really, only two blowouts in almost 40 years. This one is causing a large amount of concern because we can watch it on live TV. This will be stopped in time, when the right people can work together and find the right method to stop the leak. Nature has the capacity to heal itself in time. We will need to be patient and not make any rash decisions that will only harm the country.

  • Amy

    No it hasn’t made me think about how I could change my behavior. Certainly makes me think about how government and corporations can change theirs though! I still cannot grasp how no concrete plans were in place for how to stop an oil leak if one occurred. Seems like the number one thing on the check list to me, but I guess I am not motivated by billion dollar profits either…

  • Dana

    Only two “blowouts” in 40 years? According to the US Department of Energy 1.3 million gallons of petroleum are spilled EACH YEAR! And, that’s not including all the spills in the other countries that supply our oil and that lack the environmental and safety regulations that we have. In Nigeria alone there are currently 2,000 spills (according to a NY Times article a few weeks ago).

    We can wait for the government and business to change their ways, but ultimately they are in existence to make a profit. It is each of our responsibilities to make changes to consume less petroleum. Personally, I’m not changing much because there is little to change. I already bike nearly everywhere and drive as little as 100 miles a month. I don’t purchase plastic (which contains petroleum) packaging or buy plastic from plant sources. I avoid personal care products that contain petroleum products. We buy food locally as much as possible and don’t buy non-seasonal produce.

    As we start to drill in deeper waters and in the Arctic, these sorts of disasters will become more common. I can only hope that the difficulties of extracting oil from these exotic locations will drive the cost of gasoline up high enough to start forcing real change.

  • paul

    The safety violations that it’s now evident BP has a history of committing has left me boycotting BP, which is difficult because I am passing on savings of 30 cents per gallon and much more through a partnership that BP runs with a local grocer.

  • Sue de Nim

    Not changing, but confirming. It is asserted that we can’t reduce our use of fossil fuels too much, because that would hurt the economy. By that logic, slavery should not have been abolished. Doing the right thing may cost more than doing the easy thing, but it’s still the right thing. The easy thing is to keep on risking this kind of disaster in the oceans, keep on chopping down mountains for coal, keep on putting workers at risk doing dangerous jobs, keep on warming the globe, keep on buying petroleum from people who hate us, all so we can have cheap energy. The right thing to do is conserve more and invest more in greener, domestic energy technologies.

  • Brian

    No, not for me, and not for society as a whole either. People have a short attention span, once this is done, the majority of the people will forget it even happened in a short amount of time. This morning I have heard this compared to the Valdeze, this happened in 1989, I can tell you that if you asked people in 1994 what the details about the Valdeze were, most would not have remembered any. People will not change energy usage because it takes effort to do this, and five years from now, only the well informed will even remember this fiasco.

  • Jesse


    I still drive 30 miles to work one way each day.

    I’d like to decrease it, but I need the paycheck.

    However, I live in a small apartment, and my car is an older model that still gets over 30 mpg. The car is only used for work, all local trips are done on foot or by bike. So all in all, I don’t think my energy usage is that exceptional.

  • Minneapolitan

    Will this change my energy behavior? Hell no. I already drive an efficient car and use efficient light bulbs. Kudos to Duane for telling it like it is: 2 blowouts in 40 years. By the way, most of the “spills” in Nigeria are from rebel attacks and never-ending attempts at thievery.

  • James

    No, however we need to base our energy future in hydrogen. Fuel cells are the future. We can crack water with Solar, wind, or nuclear. And leave the dino juice in the ground. Not to mention depriving the world of OUR oil money. With the billions of dollars spent on this one spill it would go along way to building a hydrogen distribution system.


  • Nate

    The only change I’ve had to make in the last two months is adding BP to my boycott list. I see people stopping at BP and can’t understand why they still do. Hurting a company financially is the only way we can change their irresponsible behavior.

  • Elanne

    Oil isn’t just used for vehicle fuel. It’s used in all plastics, in mining trucks, in manufacturing.

    We could make a huge dent by downsizing our lifestyles –no more mega housing, no more duplication such as a TV in every room, no more upgrading to new fancy technological devices that we don’t need because we’re not using the featkures on what we have now.

    Just the way we eat could have a huge impact on energy use. Eat local organic–get rid of the transportation costs, the petro fertilizers, and the pesticide residues.

    Buy items with the least amount of packaging and the least amount of ingredients.

    We need to downsize, simplifly, and learn to enjoy the marvels of the natural world in our own backyards..

  • brian

    Its made me think about it, but it hasn’t made me do anything about it. Perhaps a hefty ‘cleanup tax’ is in order to nudge people into the latter category.

  • Khatti

    I’m at a point in my life where most of my energy behavior is chosen for me. I live outstate; biking or taking a tramm is really not an option for getting where I want to go. If I want to go to, say Marshall or Mankato (I’m sitting halfway between the two at the moment) I have to get into my car and drive. My finances are such at the moment that I can’t afford to get rid of my PT Cruiser and buy a Prius–no matter how good a financing deal I could get. I can’t stuff anymore insulation into the walls of the house, and all the light bulbs were replaced with florescents years ago. I would love to put wind turbines on our farm, but our property is inconvenient to the really big units and I can’t afford the small units.

    I suppose I could write my Congressman about this energy dilemma, he could most likely use the support, but I doubt I could tell him anything he doesn’t already know.

    At times like these I really miss the Soviet Union. There are things we Americans are incapable of doing just because it’s sensible; only the threat of death–or worse yet, the prospect of being conquered by someone who doesn’t speak English–makes such things as the Interstate Highway system do-able. One of the unintended consequences of the end of the Cold War is that we had plenty of time to realize how much we can’t stand each other. This is the true political dilemma of America: our mutual animosity makes things impossible to do.

    Global Warming is a hard sell, not because the science is not adequately explained. Global Warming is a hard sell because you’re trying to convince people who genuinely hate your guts, and who are convinced you would lie to them if you thought it would further your agenda. This is a psychological problem, not a scientific one.

    As usual, I’ve meandered off the subject. Sorry. Anyway, like most good members of the choir, I did what I could to save energy before; there’s not much more I can do now.

  • Steve the Cynic

    James DTOM, I’m stunned. Your comment this morning sounds positively liberal. Are you feeling okay? Did someone else use your moniker? You realize, of course, that building the infrastructure for a hydrogen economy will require lots of government intervention before Big Business will move in and do it; otherwise, the ROI won’t come soon enough for Wall Street to back it.

  • Steve

    Absolutely! Previous “events” such as the Exxon Valdez disaster and our continuous need to send our sons/daughters in harm’s way to defend oil resources in the Middle East have also played significant roles.

    To date, we have converted most home lighting to compact fluorescent, currently drive a Toyota Camry Hybrid, installed a geothermal heat pump and I’ve just pre-ordered one of the yet-to-be-released Nissan LEAF all-electric cars.

    The geothermal, hybrid and electric vehicle purchases were made feasible primarily with government incentive programs.

    We need more – this is not only a national crisis but a global crisis as well.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    My family is already pretty efficient. Both cars get good to great gas mileage, we have energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, and we heat with wood.

    The real problem is one of scale. This country uses MASSIVE amounts of energy to support the “American Lifestyle” and is becoming increasingly desperate to find the energy resources to continue the status-quo.

    At the same time our population continues to swell, with no end in sight, along with the entire developing world, which is striving ti improve its material wealth and standard of living to resemble ours. All this requires more and more energy, be it from oil, coal, or renewables.

    New technologies and efficiencies cannot possibly keep up with future demand. No way. Add climate change to the scramble for diminishing resources, and the smell of the impending turmoil becomes stronger every year.

  • Michael Lander

    I identify with Khatti. I’m working to lower my personal footprint, but it’s a big picture problem. It’s us. We don’t want to pay more for energy. Alternatives – too expensive! We need a new attitude as a community/country. I’m also actively advocating for better land use and transportation. These sectors account for 2/3 of green house gases and our current auto dependent/sprawling pattern has a significantly higher impact per citizen than compact, multimodal places.

  • Paul(from St. Paul)

    Has the spill made me ~think~ about changing my behavior? Sure. But we Americans have known at least since Nixon that we have a problem with our dependency on oil- foreign and domestic. From gas lines to skyrocketing prices to the Exxon Valdez to the Iraq War and now this. We have seen plenty of crises and warning signs for forty years. And what’s changed, really? A few more MPG. A few car pool lanes. Not much. So what would make us think we’ll really change now?

  • Shane

    Does a plane crash make you think about changing your traveling behavior? Considering how much oil we drill/transport, I think we have a pretty good safety record.

  • Lois

    It hasn’t changed my behaviour because I’ve already reduced my consumption about as much as I can. But it has increased my sense of desperation about America’s addiction to oil.

    I share the frustration of others that our nation’s infrastructure makes us so dependent on fossil fuels. Even though my job involves developing one potential alternative, a large proportion of my energy use is expended in doing my job. (I bike to work, but drive from there.)

    We need to change our cultural norms. I grew up with the idea deeply ingrained in me that wasting money is next to immoral. Now I’m trying to turn that around to say that spending a little (or even a lot) more money to save energy is more moral. But that’s hard to do when the difference between what I pay and the true environmental cost is so huge and is often unknown. It’s said that the true cost of a gallon of gasoline is about $15. If we all had to pay that then our behavior would change really quickly.

    We need to 1) remove subsidies for fossil fuels, 2) phase in a steep fossil fuel tax, and 3) spend the revenues to ease the transition to a fossil fuel free future.

    I believe a fossil-fuel free future will be a better future: less plastic trash, less road kill, less pollution, less noise… more local food, more neighborhood art and music, closer friends, etc.

  • David

    Sadly, it took an environmental disaster in our own back yard to get our attention.

    What do you think has been going on for years in Africa, Asia, and South America in the never ending lust for energy? In the Mid-East? In coal mining operations in the U.S.? Yes, this is a tragedy that could have and should have been avoided – as are all these others.

    Regarding the geo-thermal heating system, unless you are drilling down 1,000 feet or more, I think you mean a ground-source heat pump. In this market, that means you are burning coal (and it ain’t clean!) to heat your home (the chimney is a 100 miles away from your home).

    Want to be “green”? Walk. Ride a bike. Insulate your home. Put on a sweater. Cook your own food. Know where stuff comes from. Know where trash goes.

  • Erica

    Nope- however hopefully it will encourage innovation and new technologies here at home.

  • judy

    Changed enery usage long time ago. What bothers me is the Gulf Coast states have had off shore drilling for decades but never took it upon themselves to have an emergency plan in place that would protect their valuable coast and wildlife areas. They are all republican states that say there is too much government but now they are complaining that the government is not doing enough or anything to help them. Which way is it – too much or not enough.

    Thank you