Top 5 Gulf Oil Spill Commentaries You Really Must See

Here are 5 industry reactions to the gulf oil spill that will make you laugh, cry and hopefully take some action.

I had been expecting it to happen ever since the oil started to gush at the bottom of the gulf.  We all knew that the renewable energy industry would pounce on this disaster and make all kinds of claims about how this highlights, once again, why the world must transition to renewables.  This week the commentaries really started to flood in and I read all — well, most — of them.  I’d like to highlight the ones that have stuck with me.

The first commentary that I read and that stuck with me was Richard Heinberg’s “The End is Nigh.”  It’s a 4000+ word article that arrived in my inbox from the Post Carbon Institute about a week ago.  I am about to publish an excerpt of it on but I would urge you to read the entire piece, which you can find here.  If there exists another more comprehensive piece of analysis about the history of resource extraction in the U.S. and how this disaster fits into the scope of our energy future, I haven’t seen it.  In my opinion, this is a must read.

The second is Ron Pernick’s analysis that I published yesterday on the site.  He asks: Gulf Oil Disaster: Fleeting News Headline or Defining Watershed Moment? His hope is that the U.S. government will seriously heed the warnings here and finally get working on crafting strong policy that encourages more clean energy.

The third piece of commentary that I can’t stop thinking about is actually a video that was posted on the Huffington Post: Gulf Oil Spill Dive: Reporter Takes A Dip Without Hazmat Suit. The video shows a veteran gulf coast diver who wanted to go into the waters to get a first-hand look at the oil.  One of the most striking things about the video is that the diver explains that he dives oilrigs frequently in order to show how they support marine life!

As great as the video is, I think that the written narration about the dive is even better.   The quote that really got me was when the reporter was talking about getting out of the oily water – how thick it was.  He says it’s like cake batter.  “Then you pour on some Dawn dishwashing soap and scrub. I think to myself: No fish, no bird, no turtle would ever be able to clean this off of themselves.”

The fourth piece of commentary I need to point out is the fake BP PR twitter guy, BPGlobalPR.  Have you heard about this?  The gulf oil spill is truly a tragedy but his sarcastic tweets that are purportedly coming from BP’s public relations company are pretty hilarious.  Examples like, “Sending some lawyers down to the Earth’s crust to deliver a Cease and Desist. That oughtta do it,” bring just a bit of levity to this otherwise devastating situation.

And finally, my fifth piece of commentary relates to taking action. I personally find it hard to read about an ongoing tragedy and feel as if there is nothing I can do to make it better.  In this case, while I can’t get involved in any of the cleanup efforts, there are a number of smaller changes that I can make in my life that involve helping get the country off of oil and on to more clean energy.  Here is a list that came into my inbox this week.  It was from Natural Dynamics and may reappear as a blog on this site at some time in the future.  If you start to think about how making these kinds of changes can impact the use of oil in America, maybe you’ll be likely to try some more of them.  

  • Pay attention to packaging – When out shopping, try to go to stores or co-ops that keep packaging to a minimum. For example, you may choose to buy the loose tomatoes rather than boxed or plastic-wrapped tomatoes. Also, take reusable bags to the grocery store.
  • Eat less beef  – Producing one pound of beef requires up to 29 times more water than one pound of chicken and 50 times more water than one pound of soy beans.
  • Ditch bottled water – Bottled water has a huge carbon footprint — it’s bottled at one location in small plastic bottles and shipped all over. Try buying a reusable water bottle for your water.
  • Heat your home with the sun – Solar thermal can also heat your home. This technology harnesses the power of the sun to convert that energy in the heat for your home..
  • Unplug it! – Unplug appliances that you don’t use frequently. Most electronics have a standby mode that siphons energy even when not in use. Cell phone chargers, laptops, televisions, stereos — there’s a whole list of items that should be unplugged when not in use.
  • Use cold water – Try using cold water to launder things that don’t need to be cleaned in hot or warm water. It takes a lot of energy to heat up water.
  • Seal those windows and doors – Make sure that all of your doors and windows are sealed properly. If air is escaping or coming in, you are dumping money down the drain and wasting energy.
  • Change those bulbs – Make those small adjustments. Switching light bulbs, purchasing honeycomb blinds, adjusting your thermostat to only run when you’re there or to turn it up at night. These small changes are really easy to do and don’t cost much, but can add up to a lot in savings of energy cost and use.
  • Consider Solar Panels – If you own your home, solar panels are a great thing to consider when switching over to more eco-friendly installations.
  • Harness the heat of the earth – Geothermal energy can save a bundle. Homes can essentially harness the heat and/or cool air from the earth. This system would operate similarly to your normal furnace or A/C unit but at a fraction of the cost.
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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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