honest songs, honestly sung
singer and songwriter ben bruce

blog > BP: Bi-Polar Anger

Jun 10th, 2010

Looking at the big picture” doesn’t mean ignoring what is happening on the ground. That’s like telling an army to focus on strategy only and not tactics. You need both.

There has been a lot of righteous anger over the oil spill, and I feel it too. There has also been a sort of backlash coming from the Thomas Friedman-​types, who say things like, “blaming BP is missing the point” and not in a friendly tone but in an antagonistic way. “Looking at the big picture” doesn’t mean ignoring what is happening on the ground. That’s like telling an army to focus on strategy only and not tactics. You need both.

Yes, the root issue isn’t BP or this oil spill but oil dependence and unsustainable energy policy, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t also be angry with BP’s stupid, corrupt, inept corporate behavior — and boycotting them and other oil companies if that’s how they feel. Do it. Those messages will be heard in corporate boardrooms around the world. And you know what? Fuck BP.

By the same token, just taking it out on BP does miss the bigger picture — we need radical change in our energy policy, and this is the opportunity that we have in the next decade to make it happen. Friedman outlines a few things in Hot, Flat and Crowded but one of them is that we are at the end of a seriously fraying rope — the time for change is the next decade, or forget about it1. Another is that there is a simple mechanism for jump-​starting the change we need and (surprise!) a huge economic opportunity, and that’s to create a carbon price-​point. A price-​point is how we tell the market “invest the billions and billions of dollars needed to take sustainable energy to scale” — without one, the market says, “don’t invest those billions because tomorrow the price of oil will drop precipitously and you’ll be f&#$%!”

In order to create a price-​point for carbon, however, we are going to need everyone — those who want deeper change and those who are just angry at BP and this current mess — and we’re not going to get their by trying to tell each other how much smarter we are.

And … my own rant is over. As usual I’m right down the middle2.

– Ben

1 Funny story, in a way. I read the first half of “Hot, Flat and Crowded” — the part where he is describing what bad shape we are in — until I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to put it down. So I picked up the next book on my side table. A little something called, “The Road.” I was devastated by the one-​two combo punch to the gut, but recovered enough to read the rest of “H, F & C” (which brings you back from the brink).

2 Moderation in all things, including moderation.

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