Through the eyes of submersible robots, I have watched with morbid fascination as millions of gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve seen poetic photographs of pelicans stained brown, and of waves of sludge staining the deep blue sea. And while I’ve heard a lot of talk about how horrifying it all is, what I haven’t seen is any sign that people are driving less, or even just driving in a more gas- conscious manner.

Oil-soaked bird after the 1989 oil spill.
The tragic results of the 1989 oil spill,
somehow completely blamed on Exxon.

I live in Northern California, which many would claim is a giant refuge for hippies and environmental nutjobs. And yet the highways here are as packed as ever. And the byways? Nothing but jack-rabbit starts in a high-speed race between traffic lights.

Sadly, burning gas is still America’s favorite occupation. It’s a cheap thrill, dollar-wise, with prices rolled back to 2004. But what about the environmental issues? What about that gigantic spill? The response I’m hearing most often is, “It’s not my fault.”

For seventy-nine days and counting, 4,200,000 gallons of crude oil have been spilled per day. In the meantime, people have blamed BP for making cheaper and unsafe choices in the equipment used to construct the oil platform, and they’ve blamed them for being slow to react after the accident. People have also blamed ‘Big Oil’ for drilling in the seafloor in the first place. Hell, one person even told me the fault lied in, “The British.” All in all, we’ve found plenty of people to blame; pretty much anyone but ourselves. Mind you, this isn’t about dodging responsibility—these are people who genuinely, psychotically, believe in their own innocence.

Oh, and chances are that one of these people is you.

I mean, what do you think BP would be doing out in the middle of theThe BP-endorsed Offshore Oil Strike game.
Now you too can be evil.
Wait, you already are…
water drilling holes if you weren’t buying their gas? If you own a car, a motorcycle, or even a gas- powered lawn mower, then you own a chunk of blame for this tragedy.

How large a chunk? That’s up to you. Maybe you could drive less? Or be more conscious when you do. (Yes, you darling hybrid owners, you do pay the same lead-foot tax as the rest of us.)

Since more and more people are thinking about where their food is coming from, then why not their oil? I think a driver’s license should require knowledge of recent environmental disasters. Better still, we should be bringing exhibits around the country.

After all, how many vegetarians were baptised by a visit to the slaughterhouse?