The Oil Spill Logos

Like everyone else, I’m sick and angry about what’s happening in the Gulf. Greenpeace is doing something visual about it, saying “[BP’s] nice green logo doesn’t really seem to fit them too well, so we’re running a competition to find a logo that we can use to rebrand BP.” You can get more information about the contest on their website, but the Flickr slideshow of entries is already huge and sobering.
Like this one:

And this one:

This may seem petty, but it’s important. BP has spent millions, probably billions, creating and promoting that sunshine-and-green-fields logo so that people would subliminally think, “BP: Good For Nature.” If these images go viral–and I can’t imagine they won’t–they’ll help destroy the facade of good stewardship the company has been building for years. Images are important, and some of these are very effective:

Go look.

62 thoughts on “The Oil Spill Logos

  1. BP has always seemed to me to be a smug, arrogant and mendacious organisation. It thoroughly deserves to be taken down a peg — but it is heartbreaking that this will come about only at the expense of a precious natural environment and the livelihoods of so many ordinary people who depend upon it. It is a tragedy.

  2. I can’t get mad at BP in particular. Yes, the fact that they’re the “green” oil co is ironic, but it could have been any of the oil companies. They’re all rapacious, just like all the other major players. Our culture has come to expect this, even- where’s the outrage?

    Eventually there was going to be another tragic disaster, it was only a matter of time. We need a new source of energy, or we need to stop using so much energy- undoubtedly both. And yet here I sit, using the computer, while my dryer runs, and later I’m going to drive my gasoline-powered car.

    Human beings, the scourge of the earth. We suck.

    Sorry, really depressed about this. I should go hang out over at Bob’s site.

  3. I agree with Jennifer. You’d be hard pressed to find any oil company that isn’t making money hand over fist at the expense of our planet and our bank accounts. What really ticks me off about this is that my 10 yr old daughter asks me nearly every day if they’ve fixed it and stopped the oil. This is her future they are destroying. All of our futures, but our kids are going to be paying for this a lot longer than we will.

    I definitely think the new logo should have some kind of wildlife covered in oil and I see several versions of that in the slideshow. But the effects of this are so far reaching, it’s almost impossible to sum it all up in one new symble.

  4. Jennifer: what you say is true, of course. But the big problem is not so much that Homo sapiens is intrinsically evil but that there are far too many of us for this planet. Over-population by humans is a fundamental problem. Back in the late 50s and early 60s, people were not afraid to say that humans, who are able to control their reproduction, had a duty to do so. Now nobody dares to say that. But if we do not address the issue ourselves, nature will do it for us, and it won’t be pretty.
    I’m glad I am old.

  5. I agree with AgTigress. I am not old and yet I see the same issue consistently overlooked in any discussion of environmental discussion. The fact is that with a 5% decrease in human population many of our global environmental and socio/political issues would be easier to manage. Not that anyone dares mention the dreaded population control. As for the ongoing destruction of our only habitat (the earth), I’ve been having nightmares for a week. Just the thought of the millions of people whose diet depends on seafood, not to mention the rest of the world that has been on tenderhooks hoping the oceans would be our saving grace when it comes to carbon dioxide re-uptake and greenhouse gases dispersal now has to cope with what is currently 30 million gallons of oil and 700,000 gallons of Corexit dispersants into a small warm seawater environment surrounded by the last few natural coastal refuges in the country which will in a few months be churned up and taken farther by the seasonal hurricanes. Its a scary saddening thing….

  6. As for the logos, I like the one that says ‘BP = Bankrolling Pollution’ because it’s the most accurate. I mean we pay these people/companies to get us oil. So to blame them for that is useless. Blame them for rampant pollution, disasters, destruction of environs which are all true and unneccessary to the acquiring of oil but inherent in a profit only business model.

  7. AgTigress, thank you, I feel like anytime this gets mentioned people immediately jump to “well if a family wants all those kids they have the right to do so” and start attacking anyone who suggests that maybe we should think beyond what we want immediately when considering our family sizes.

    There was a Probability Zero a few years ago in Analog that I loved. The essential plot was that people started suddenly finding that most of them (not all) were infertile and couldn’t conceive. All the religious leaders got together and God answered them that he was inspired by our Spay/Neuter campaigns for pets and Mark Twain referring to humanity as God’s pets. When he saw that we lacked the ability to control ourselves and our population he decided to do it for us.

  8. One of the things bothering me is that there may be multiple folks to blame, not just BP; but many will escape the PR nightmare because all the attention is on the BP brand. Not saying that they don’t deserve it; but I hate to think that some parts mfr or contractor might wiggle out of their share because nobody knows who they are, only to have this happen again somewhere else.

  9. I was watching the news last night. They stated that BP Oil has willfully and knowingly violated safety regulations over and over again – willing to pay the fines and continue as is. BP Oil has racked up over 800 safety violations so far (I don’t remember the time period being referred to). The next oil company that has safety violations has racked up eight (8). That’s quite a disparity… Then there’s the fact that the quality control inspectors (from the US) were watching porn and taking trips with the top guys from BP…

    And I am also glad AgTigress brought up over population. I’ve been concerned about that for a long time, and when I see families – like that one who now has 20 children (because they decided that they would have as many as God would allow them) – I wonder about people’s thought processes. Mother Nature has a way of taking care of these things – remember the plague during the middle ages, and all the horrific wars? Like Tigress, I’m glad I’m old…

  10. It’s true that it could have happened to any company. But BP has a reputation for cutting corners and safety violations. It could have happened to anyone- but it’s no surprise that it happened to BP.

  11. It is disturbing that after all these years of education about the environment people still want a quick fix to oil spills which have been caused by drilling. Left alone, the spill would take a couple of seasons to dissipate – it is a natural product.
    As to overpopulation, I am confident that humanity will survive most man made foolishness. It might not be our descendents (i.e cherries and cherry bombs), and they might not have as pretty a world as we should leave them, but the best thing about people is our ability to adapt.

  12. AgTigress- I know we’re not intrinsically evil, of course. As Einstein said, “We cannot despair of humanity, since we are ourselves human beings.” AngelFire actually found the words I’d been reaching for: “profit only business model.” (Thanks Angelfire!) That’s the part that gets me. That our companies, our culture, has consciously removed, even disparagingly discarded the concepts of honor and moral obligation in business.

    I agree with the population control comments, as well. This was something my husband and I thought about a lot, and we chose to have only one child. While I never judge others for the number of children they choose to have (who knows what their individual history is?), many people do judge me for having only one. I take a surprising amount of flak for it. “Poor thing, she must be so lonely!” “It will be so hard for her when she’s older and has to bear the burden of dealing with your old age.” “What will she do as an adult with no siblings to turn to for support?” “Oh my goodness, if you lose her, you’ll have none!” The last one is the most bizarre- as if having two children is so that you have a spare. Good grief.

    1. I have only one child and I’ve never heard anything like this. People really say these things? That’s horrible. People have been having only children for…ever. These things never cease to amaze me.

      1. Try choosing not to have children. The judgment I get is astounding. Growing older has been a relief in that people assume I can’t and pity me instead of assuming I’m selfish.

      2. Yes, they really do say these things. Those are all direct quotes, from multiple sources. To be fair, the people who make these comments aren’t trying to be unpleasant, they’re genuinely concerned.

        1. Yes, they’re generally concerned that you don’t see the life the way they see it, which is the right way.
          Sorry, people who say hurtful things for your own good are on my list of “will not have lunch with in hell.”

      3. Or “the reason you haven’t married is you are too picky.” My mom tried that one. I asked her which of my (many) boyfriends did she wish I had married. Shut her up. My Gram, however, kept it up.

    2. Oh good grief. As if having siblings is a guarantee of support. I have one; it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I get far more support in my life from the non blood relatives I’ve chosen to have in my life.

      But people have a way of ignoring reality and assuming their life will be idyllic, and then the reach for the anti-depressants when the fantasy explodes. There’s a German word for it, but I can’t remember what that is.

    3. I’m an only. I love it. It was awesome growing up – no need to share. I got loads of attention. I’m introverted and love to read. Who needs a pesky sibling interrupting everything. And as to being the only one around to take care of my parents, well, I have a wonderful husband who’ll help and I’m praying they stay sane and capable until they die. Whenever I’ve been asked by a worried mom to be about being an only as she only plans on having one, I tell her the same thing. It’s great!

  13. For more than 20 years, I kept a couple of tanks of tropical fish. The discipline of keeping a population of living animals in a very restricted space teaches a lot about the principles and importance of keeping population and environment in a healthy ratio and balance. As a fishkeeper, one can always feed the fishes (one does not have the problem of famine due to climate variation or natural disasters that affects some human populations), but if there are simply too many animals for the space, the environment will become polluted and there will be deaths due to stress, disease and fighting. It infuriates me to hear the GM lobby prating smugly about ‘growing more food’ to feed increasing populations. That is not the solution: the solution is to stabilise the populations, so that the food the earth can grow safely and naturally is enough.

    I was a pretty successful fishkeeper, so the kind of meltdown that comes from too many fishes per cubic feet of water never happened in my aquaria, but I could see how keeping the population sparse promoted the health and balance of the whole set-up, and incidentally, ensured that there was not fighting over territory: if you have enough territory and resources, you don’t need to fight and try to take someone else’s.

    The social and political ramifications as far as humans are concerned are very challenging, because it is perfectly natural for people to want children, and none of us would feel happy about strict state control of reproduction. Some religious beliefs don’t help, either, clinging to principles that were forged in centuries when infant mortality was so high that a woman could have a child every couple of years and still finish up with a small adult family.
    The increase in the world population just over the last half-century is terrifying, and something has to give. Our generation may still be too muddled, sentimental and scared to deal with this issue, but someone will have to, eventually. ‘There is no new frontier; we have to make it here’.

    1. Fascinating to hear what you learned from keeping an aquarium–thanks for sharing!

  14. It is rather funny to think of humans talking about population control, and I believe it is a discussion (as well as a practice) that could take a downward spiral quickly. Everyone has ideas about what OTHERS should do. The fact of the matter is that a person could take issue with any one of us for any number of things: too many children, too few children, use too much energy, use little energy but judge others for using too much…the list goes on.

    The simple truth is that even with euthanasia (sp?) and birth control and abortion and homicide and genocide and suicide and any other act or practice that eliminates human life (or the possibility of it), our world is still overpopulated. I say focus on the quality, not the quantity. As long as people choose to be wasteful and judgmental and selfish, that will reflect in our world. When we turn inward and deal with what we can the best way we can, conditions improve drastically.

    Is a woman who births 20 children and teaches them that it is better to give than to receive, to love rather than judge, any worse than a woman who births only one child and never owns a dryer or a gasoline-powered car?

  15. Ellie- I hope I didn’t sound like I was criticizing anyone who makes different choices. I realized after I posted that I didn’t really finish my thought, but then I had to go cook dinner for my one child. 🙂

    My point was supposed to be that fewer people overall would be good, and it would be helpful if society were more supportive of those who really want to have fewer children. If there was less stigma about having only one child, I think population would naturally be lower, and that would be helpful.

    I certainly don’t have a problem with large families. Nearly all my friends have large families, which is probably why my only child is such an object of pity.

    1. Jennifer – I am very sorry people have not been supportive of your choice to have one child. I did not realize that such a stigma existed. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and your right to decide the size of yours should not be subject to anyone’s criticism or pity. Keep on keepin’ on. 🙂

  16. I’m too tired (and too lazy) to track this down through Google, but I’m pretty sure the population count is falling. I think I heard it in a Jon Stewart interview. Sorry. Really long day here.
    I’m not a fan of drilling but I do think it can be done responsibly. Exxon, I think, has a really good record. In this case, there were too many people making too much money, a corrupt government agency that let BP get away with murder, contractors like Halliburton who circumvented inspections, really, the list of people and organizations who contributed to this is long. But BP is the one who said that compared to the vastness of the ocean, this damage was small. And BP is the company that didn’t have a solution in place for this even though it knew this could happen. I think everybody involved in this should go down–heads are rolling now at the government oversight agency–but BP still gets most of my wrath for knowing this could happen and decided that inspections and safeguards weren’t cost-effective.

    1. the birth rate is falling fastest in the “western world”; I read that in places like Norway and Sweden the birthrate is no longer replacing those who die.

      1. The birthrate plummets when women have (a) education and (b) access to safe, reliable birth control. When women can control when they do NOT have children… on the whole, the birthrate plummets. Since there are still girls who stop going to school, or get behind, when they have their periods (I can’t even imagine this), supporting global efforts to provide young women with sanitary supplies, school fees, and the like will go a long, long way to decreasing population rates without imposing external limits on anyone.

        It seems to take populations that are used to losing several kids to childhood diseases a generation or two to really believe that if they only have 2 kids, those kids will almost certainly live to adulthood. But if they’re currently having 12 and the next generation has only 6 and the next generation has 1-3? That’ll do it. Even if a family here and there still thinks that 20 kids is fantastic, they’ll be the exception, not the norm. Remember – educate the girls and women and empower them to decide when and if to have kids, and make sure those kids live to be healthy adults and populations become much easier to manage. (I said my piece about BP lower down.)

  17. Sorry, I’m the one who got everything off topic in the first place, and I was completely wrong, anyway. BP obviously is far worse than most of the other oil companies, and yes, those involved should go down. Really sorry, I shouldn’t let myself post when I’m having a bad day. I’m off to post one of the logos as my status on Facebook.

    1. Babe, you’re part of the discussion here, you were respectful of others, and you add a lot to the conversation. No apology necessary.
      One of the many things I love about Argh People is that they don’t always agree, but they’re always good to each other.

  18. I agree that we are all to blame on a certain level, including me. I drive my car, etc. But on another level I feel so helpless because I’ve talked about the evils of dependence on fossil fuel resources and people (at least in my neck of the woods) don’t want to hear it. And if they would only listen, there ARE SOLUTIONS. In fact, long before he was running for president, I read a transcript of a speech by Obama where he laid out some solutions and ways to implement them where no one except the millionaires who have been making big bucks off oil for years would lose anything. If only he were given the power to implement them.
    You don’t know the number of letters I have written to Mitch McConnell regarding various aspects of this subject and always I get the same form letter back – he doesn’t care what anyone thinks, he is going to take care of the people lining his pockets. Yet time after time he gets voted back into office.
    BP is responsible, the forces in the government who allowed off shore drilling are responsible, I am responsible and unfortunately in the long run the whole world will suffer consequences.

  19. As someone in south Louisiana, who was born here, who has friends and relatives who are losing their livelihoods and way of life, who is seeing damage destroy small businesses up and down the coast in addition to destroying our wetlands and environment… I thank you for a place to express the rage. It’s been so depressing, to watch it happen, to watch while BP fumbled around and tried to mitigate the issue with other solutions (solutions, which we should note, which would have still given them access to the oil, should they have worked). It was more important to them to try to salvage what they could by containing the oil instead of stopping it outright. (And there are scientists who believe that there’s more than one leak–that BP is not giving out information that there is another leak somewhere.) It was even more depressing to watch the Obama people sit back and *let* BP manage this–when they had access to the kind of mismanagement and rule-breaking and corner-cutting that BP had done.

    I suspect our culture here will have changed forever; we’ll have lost something that will never be replaced, not in my lifetime: our coastland’s viability.

    BP was allowed to continue doing business, with everything that they had done wrong. The scary question is, who else is out there, doing business like this that we haven’t stopped?

    1. The scary question indeed. Who else is out there? Been thinking about you Toni and the people of Louisana. The Big Guy worked in Louisana for a few years, unfortunately, I was not able to get there, so wanted to, he has such great memories of Friday crawfish days after work, the bayous, the gulf coast, the culture. A man was crying on the news today about the loss to his children and future generations. It is the pursuit of the almighty dollar over safety and people. Very little has been said about the men who lost their lives on that fateful day. Yes, scary question, and where in the world will the next diaster hit? Scary indeed.

  20. Here is a graph of world human population (and it is the global number that matters: we’re all on the same planet) since 1800, with three projections for this century: (I don’t know how to make that an active link).
    With that inexorable and incredibly rapid rise, if the earth were a fish-tank, there’d be serious trouble ahead. And it is a fish-tank.
    Yes, we are all guilty. And yes, commercial interests are usually deaf to moral and ethical issues. I don’t think the problems will be solved by humankind: nature will step in to reduce human populations and restore some kind of balance, whether it will be in the lifetime of those now living or later, and nature’s methods can be very harsh indeed.

  21. I live in the Florida Keys, a fragile eco-system surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Every day I wake up and look out the window at beautiful water. I work for a marine mammal facility with beautiful, beloved dolphins and sea lions living in the Gulf of Mexico. Every single day we educate our visitors about the importance of ocean/environmental conservation. Every day now, we’re working on strategies and plans to protect the family pod.
    Watching this oil spill, knowing the devastation it has caused to marine life and the ocean environment at all levels of the water column; seeing the sludge and tar balls destroying beaches and smothering and poisoning the marshes that nurture life, it’s like being strapped in a chair and forced to watch a horror movie over and over.
    Our hearts break for the people in the north Gulf states who are feeling the impact — environmentally and economically — because of the direct presence of the oil on their shores.
    At the same time, we’re praying that the Loop Current keeps it away from our islands. We’re damn lucky at the moment. We haven’t even been hit by a single tar ball. Yet, we’re already being affected with visitor cancellations and a reduction of advance vacation planning.
    Presently, what we’re feeling is a tiny fraction of the financial devastation this disaster has already caused to the people in Louisiana and neighboring states. All I can think of is, “BP your pockets better be deep and you better not screw around when it comes to financial reimbursement for everybody.”
    The Exxon Valdez disaster happened in 1989. Although 5 billion dollars in damages were assessed in 1994, Exxon continued to tie up settlement in litigation and appeals until a settlement was reached in 2009. Fishermen and other people directly impacted by that oil spill went 20 years without payment.

  22. I think it’s important to tell these stories as Toni and Mary Stella have, to see the personal devastation, to know that people we care about are having their lives destroyed. I’ve got no time for Charlie Melancon because of his homophobia, but I believe he is genuinely distraught over the damage to his district because I believe he’s seeing a way of life disappear forever. If we keep telling the stories, if the outrage stays and the pressure on politicians increases as the real cost of this disaster grows every day, then change will come. I’m just afraid it’s too late for Louisiana, that they’ll never get their land and their water back. It’s obscene and it’s heartbreaking. And anything that keeps the outrage alive–stories, pictures, anything–is important.

  23. The resource and pollution problems include both # of people and consumption per person. The developed world isn’t increasing very rapidly in population, but consumes the most resources per person – while the developing world has, by far, more people. A message should include both “raise children to love others and the world by consuming responsibly” and “think seriously how many children it is important for you to bring into the world”. Because numbers do matter, and the message many societies (including ours) give are VERY pro-birth. And many women still have no access to birth control (including the ability to have “no” stick with their husband). Unless you live totally off the grid (perhaps you’re pedaling right now, to have your computer on), those of us in the developed world and especially North America use about 10 times as much stuff in a lifetime as someone in Bangladesh, and even a couple of times more than a person in Japan.

    Justice says that we should help those with less get to “enough” – but we in the developed world are already using more than the world can, sustainably, provide. We’re not only consuming our future, we’re consuming the future of everyone around the world who would like a more comfortable life.

    There are about 6.9 billion people in the world – already using up the earth’s past productivity (forests, soils, fossil fuels) – that population level-off that Jenny mentioned is projected to be at about 9.2 billion. Something’s gonna give.

    And, Wendy, while humanity may survive (I’m confident it will, at least for the foreseeable future), an awful lot of the rest of the world’s species will not. We’re already losing species at 1000 times the historical rate – and as more forests are burned to grow corn and soybeans and palm oil for more people and more irreplaceable and unique places are paved or flooded, or overheated, we’re going to lose more.

    So, yes, our corporate culture needs to include a social and environmental responsibility as well as a fiduciary one (I think that there is actually a legal code that requires attorneys and executives to maximize financial benefit to their shareholders; they can be sued for doing something altruistic), but our broader culture also needs to think a lot more about what it’s doing.

    Not that this is something about which I feel strongly, or anything.

  24. One of the problems I have when the idea of population control comes up is the idea that people have the right to decide about other people’s bodies, and that they ignore the history of it being done, mostly to poor women of color (including inside the U.S.) It becomes a very slippery slope over who can have kids and who can not, and who gets to decide who can have these kids and who can not.

    I do agree that the U.S. is very pro-birth. (I want to remain childless and most of the comments I get go from “you’re too young, you’ll change your mind” to “every real woman wants kids” to “kids are the most important thing you can do” to “what? you hate kids?”)

    And to get back to the original topic, this spill is breaking my heart. As for the logos, I actually think the first one you posted is the best.

    1. Whenever I do a book about heroines not wanting kids (Min, Nell, Andie, etc.), I get props from reviewers and thanks yous from readers. Nobody’s ever written me and said, “What an awful woman she must be.” And trust me, I get plenty of criticism from people, too. One woman told me I should stop doing women in their thirties because that implies that it’s okay to wait that long to get married and have kids. A) These heroines did not mention kids, although if they want to have them, that’s fine with me. After the book is over. In their own lives. B.) It is okay to wait that long to have kids. And then there was the woman who wrote to tell me that I shouldn’t have done an overweight heroine (Min) because that’s cruelty to animals. She made the connection for me, but it took her awhile.
      I think we have the technology to drill safely, but it’s expensive. And I think any drilling disrupts the ecosphere and should be banned for that alone. But I think this disaster was caused by several companies doing everything they could to circumvent regulations so they could make a lot of money. That’s just corporate greed and political corruption, and that’s where the change has to come first, I think.

      1. Wait, I thought we had established that Min is not overweight. She’s voluptuous! 🙂

  25. I don’t know if they did it elsewhere as well, but a little while ago BP had an ad campaign suggesting that BP stood for ‘Beyond Petroleum’, spruking alternative energy measures, including a range of petrol stations with solar power panals and the like on the roof. Ha.

    At the moment one of the biggest political issues here is the government’s proposal of a large tax on super profits from the mining companies – those companies making crazy profits from our resources, and paying very little to do so. As you can imagine, this has not gone down well.

    Though I haven’t got it too badly because I’m also still single, I’ve also seen and be subjected to critcism for the decision to not have children, and the idea you are a lesser person, and can’t have a real understanding of things if you don’t have children. I agree that it’s these kinds of social attitudes that need to be changed, firstly cause they are mean and wrong, but also in order to do something about the population explosion (because I do think that it becomes problematic when population control is enforced from above).

  26. I was a journalist writing about oil and gas in the late 80s/early 90s. What I find frightening is that from this incident, few or no precautions have been taken that were recommended following the Piper Alpha incident and numerous other accidents at the time when I was more closely in touch with what was going on. The reasons are basically cost-cutting and maximising shareholder value. This has bred a culture of bean-counting over safety concerns, and a culture of chasing short-term returns rather than making long-term investments in safety and due care. While BP is certainly to blame along with its contractors on this occasion, I was speaking with a friend who works for Exxon. She said, “there but for the grace of God go any of us”. As consumers and shareholders, we need to think long and hard about the kind of market we have built and whether we want short-term profit at the expense of our environment and our children’s environment.

  27. Orangehands, the point you make is, of course, precisely the one that has made people scared of even talking much about population control, let alone trying to promote it. As in the euthanasia debate, everyone is, quite rightly, fearful of the immoral misuse of powers originally intended for everyone’s good. The eugenics movement still casts a long shadow. Nineteenth-century principles of reproduction control are alive and well only in the world of dog-breeding, including the advocacy of the wholesale ‘sterilisation of the unfit’ and the rigid class system (pedigree = aristocracy, mongrel = lower class) that has happily virtually disappeared as a major element in the organisation of human society, in first-world countries, at least.
    But the problem we have is a genuine one, and it needs addressing. We should have moved on enough to be able to find approaches that discourage uncontrolled increase without unfairness and prejudice. But while people refuse even to think about it, we have to leave nature to clear up the mess in its own way.

    1. Again, “I think I read somewhere” (my citations are pathetic), that more women are free to work in a society, the faster the birth rate goes down. The more liberated the female population, the more access to birth control that they have (duh), the lower the birthrate. So instead of legislating numbers of kids, we should be pushing women’s rights.
      And the oil spill would still have happened.

  28. I have to add my two cents about the whole oil spill debacle. First of all, Louisiana has many oil spills every year that people never hear about. These spills have destroyed miles of estuaries just in the last 5 years or so. The ongoing spill is quite obviously the worst in history, but it’s not unique. For example, Citgo had a severe spill a few years ago that was entirely due to lazy upkeep and cutting corners. The general public doesn’t hear about the near constant environmental damage in this area for a variety of reasons I won’t list, but it’s important to note that bp is not particularly unique in their business practices.

    Also, the reason the various oil companies can get away with cutting corners and ignoring safe science is because the government can’t force them to do otherwise. The only power they have is to fine the companies, which is usually after extensive (and expensive) litigation. The system is failing us here, but it’s not due to bp executives buying people drinks. The government has been involved (at least on the environmental front) since the first hour. I can say for a fact that the feds have been working non-stop to get this monstrosity under control; my husband’s (federal) job is environmental damage assessment and he’s been working 90 hour weeks for over a month now.

    Sensitivity to ongoing and future litigation is the reason so much info is being withheld from the general public. As the spill becomes increasingly political, not only through finger-pointing and such, but also different states clamoring for ‘dibs’ on environmental importance, the actual environmental work suffers. (sorry about the crazy sentence there!) For example, environmental sample analysis is delayed because no state will cede precedence, and there are too many samples to do all at once. The machines of modern business and government are notoriously inefficient.

    All this to say that, while it’s valid to blame bp and Transocean and Haliburton, it’s not particularly helpful on it’s own. I’d like to boycott Citgo for carelessly destroying hundreds of acres of wetlands, Exxon for holding up restitution for so many years, Shell for their most recent spill in Louisiana, bp for this epic nightmare… but then where will I buy gas? Or plastics? Or anything with nylon, rayon, polyester, etc… in it. This is bigger than a single gas company and current administration. And yet, the individuals who happen to work for the oil companies and the government are getting uniformly tarred (forgive the pun) with the ‘you’re raping the planet’ brush. My neighbors think I’m a left-wing lunatic, but I’m frustrated that people don’t see the work that’s going into getting this spill capped. Does this make me anti-environmental? Maybe it’s only that I’m seeing a little behind the scenes. I think I’d rather stop raging and ask: how can I help?

    1. Good question.
      I put the pictures up here because I thought they were doing something small but important. And I do believe the oil companies are working to fix this as fast as they can: this is a disaster for their industry, too; profits are the only place corporations feel pain, and they can not only see a huge loss of oil and profits here but also the reparations and fines and–worst of all–a shake-up in the Interior department that will take away the walk in the park the government has always given them.
      But I do think we have to stay on the corporate issue if only because angry voters are the only things that are going to change politics.

  29. Yes, but the fish tank analogy was a good one. I don’t think anybody should be able to tell anybody how many children they should have, and Ag wasn’t. But somebody has to be responsible for keeping the ecosphere in balance, and that has to be responsible government first and responsible corporate policy second. Somebody has to run the fish tank.
    AgTigress for President. She has the experience.

  30. But AgTigress can’t be President – PM, maybe!

    I just want to reassure OH that I was not advocating forced sterilizations or anything like that, just a shift in the social message. If there are people who want to have large numbers of children, they would still be free to do so – but the social message would shift from “Babies! Awesome! Everyone should have babies!” To “reproduction is a choice that should be entered into after due consideration of what it means to the planet’s resources as well as to your individual family”.

    And, yes, the planet IS supporting (for now) far more than 1 billion people. But, as a a result, it is supporting a lot fewer species than it used to. And extinction is forever.

  31. I’m going to be unpopular but I can’t help it. I have a 3rd cousin whom I would love to see forcibly sterilized; seriously. He is now father to 7 children, none of which he, or their mothers are raising (and for the kids sake that’s a good thing.) His grandparents are raising 3. His aunt is raising 2. The other 2 have been adopted because he and the mothers signed away parental rights rather than pay support. He will keep going, believe me. He can always find women. He found the mother of 2 of his children while he was serving 6 months in jail for beating on another woman.

    I’m sorry but forcing him to be sterilized is warranted. And I’m sure he’s not the only one.

  32. My comment should have come after Jenny’s push for AgTigress for president. Not sure what’s happening.

    Want to add that I didn’t mean to imply that only men ever warrant forced sterilization. I’m sure there are female candidates out there as well.

  33. A bit above, Jenny said:

    So instead of legislating numbers of kids, we should be pushing women’s rights.
    And the oil spill would still have happened.

    Maybe not. I seem to remember reading somewhere (my citations are crapper than yours) that companies with women on their boards are less likely to focus on short-term greed. Such companies did better in the global financial crisis because they took fewer crazy risks before it.

  34. Anne B wrote that “I have to add my two cents about the whole oil spill debacle. First of all, Louisiana has many oil spills every year that people never hear about. These spills have destroyed miles of estuaries just in the last 5 years or so. The ongoing spill is quite obviously the worst in history, but it’s not unique.”

    I’ve just seen an article about oil production in Nigeria which reinforces the point about this spill not being unique:

    “With 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution. […]

    It is impossible to know how much oil is spilled in the Niger delta each year because the companies and the government keep that secret. However, two major independent investigations over the past four years suggest that as much is spilled at sea, in the swamps and on land every year as has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico so far.

    One report, compiled by WWF UK, the World Conservation Union and representatives from the Nigerian federal government and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, calculated in 2006 that up to 1.5m tons of oil – 50 times the pollution unleashed in the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in Alaska – has been spilled in the delta over the past half century. Last year Amnesty calculated that the equivalent of at least 9m barrels of oil was spilled and accused the oil companies of a human rights outrage.

    According to Nigerian federal government figures, there were more than 7,000 spills between 1970 and 2000, and there are 2,000 official major spillages sites, many going back decades, with thousands of smaller ones still waiting to be cleared up. More than 1,000 spill cases have been filed against Shell alone.” […]

    Judith Kimerling, a professor of law and policy at the City University of New York and author of Amazon Crude, a book about oil development in Ecuador, said: “Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and very few people seem to care.”

    There is an overwhelming sense that the big oil companies act as if they are beyond the law. Bassey said: “What we conclude from the Gulf of Mexico pollution incident is that the oil companies are out of control.

  35. AgTigress: “We should have moved on enough to be able to find approaches that discourage uncontrolled increase without unfairness and prejudice.”

    I think we should have, but I don’t think we have or can. Who’s going to be in charge of it? The government, who doesn’t even think women can decide if they need or want an abortion? A special committee, probably made up of people I wouldn’t trust my houseplant with? I trust the access and education (and more options) of birth control, I trust stopping coercive pregnancy, I trust stopping a culture that calls me names for wanting to be childless at the same time it does the same towards people who have one child, or “too many” children, or not enough children, and I trust supporting women’s rights much more than I trust hired and/or voted people to decide who should and should not have kids.

    TT: Oh, no, I agree with you. I do think we as a planet have high birth rates, and it is affecting what is going on, I just don’t trust the government to do anything (correctly) about it. Just like I don’t trust the government to stop corrupt businesses.

  36. It’s been stunning to think how absolutely unprepared they were to cope with this. You’d think they’d have had 3 or 4 sets of solutions ready to go within hours, but it has taken weeks to think of and implement things like “cram hole full of old tires and golf balls”. You mean you don’t have a giant toggle bolt arrangement prepped? You don’t have a way to contain the goo?

    I guess they believed their own press that “our methods these days are so advanced that an oil spill is so unlikely as to be not worth thinking about”. The first thing they deployed was tech from the 1970s that’s only 15% effective! WTF? You couldn’t come up with anything better in 40 years? You didn’t have a staff thinking about this for the last 40 years? You didn’t have a warehouse somewhere just for holding onto disaster supplies? Shame. Shame. Shame.

    I love the re-iconifying idea. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Re fertility and women’s labour:
    There’s probably a hundred more citations on the UN’s women & development pages.

    Re. Nigeria: I was listening to the same report today on the radio. A spill off the shore of a rich/developed/democratic country is still going to be better dealt with than a spill off the shore of a country that doesn’t have the means or the political will/clout to put regulations on the oil industry. This is why I don’t complain about paying my taxes (I’m Canadian) and supporting a certain degree of government intervention into the market system. Sometimes the group does need protection from individuals, and only government can do that.

    Re babies: No one’s ever pressured me or made negative comments about me not wanting kids. But then I live in Quebec and we tend to have the lowest birthrate in Canada.


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