Changing habits to stop oil dependency

Gulf oil spill by the numbers
Map of the U.S. Gulf coast shows areas where wildlife have been harmed by the oil spill; includes charts detailing the response effort to date and the number of personnel and equipment still working at the recovery. (Source |Chicago Tribune 2010)

To drill or not to drill really isn’t the question. It’s where and when companies will be allowed to drill that’s on millions of Americans’ minds these days.

In January, President Obama provided his answer to solving the demand for oil drilling and the growing concern for environmental catastrophe. While the Obama administration works diligently to find ways to fight climate change through environmental policy, it is continuously battling the need to appease Republicans who call for more oil and gas drilling.

The horrific aftermath of Deepwater Horizon has prompted Obama to put forth a plan to halt oil exploration in more than 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, declaring it wilderness. This refuge is home to caribou, polar bears, countless species of marine life and birds, and dozens of Republicans and oil companies are fighting tooth and nail to exploit the territory. While Obama plans to put restrictions on the Arctic, he has opened up East Coast waters to more drilling.

After the deadly April 2010 explosion of Deepwater Horizon that spilled an estimated 3.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in the 87 days it took to cap the well, it is a wonder there is still a debate about where to drill next and not about how to make drilling safer, let alone the need for more alternative energy sources.

We are long past due in realizing how devastating our dependence on oil is and the destruction it is causing the planet. Ocean Portal Find Your Blue  states that sea life has been affected drastically, with reports coming out years after the spill about deformed fish and the possibility of huge groups of marine youth populations killed by pollution from the oil.

It’s obvious that the use of oil will not be stopped overnight. However, as individuals, we can take the necessary steps to stop our personal dependence on oil by making small changes in our daily routines.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your use of fossil fuels is to unplug appliances, such as coffee machines, televisions and computers or laptops. The use of electricity is marked as a clean energy, however, we often forget that coal and other fossil fuels are used to make it. You can lower your thermostat, use cold water to clean laundry and, most of all, make sure lights are always turned off.

Sometimes it is difficult to realize the impact one person has, but if you think about the 319 million people in the United States alone just taking one simple step a day toward change, it is easy to see how we can make a difference.

Changing habits can be a challenge, but it is time to start thinking about the future of the planet and generations to come.