BP spill illustrates true cost of energy

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We searched the Web in vain for a list of the 11 workers who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion before sending off an e-mail to BP in the slim hope that an answers would arrive in time to add to this editorial.

That's a simple illustration of the irony of the oil spill -- we see hours of footage showing contaminated wetlands and dying shorebirds, but no mention of the workers who died or the impact their loss has had on their families and friends.

That's not to minimize the damage to the environment. Even if BP is successful in plugging the leak today, it will take years to clean up the mess.

It's obvious the oil company made mistakes, and will pay for them one way or another.

But we all share in the responsibility, demanding fuel at a reasonable cost when we gas up our cars, low-cost tickets when we want to fly somewhere for business or pleasure, low-cost goods that are shipped by boat from China and rail from the West Coast.

We aren't completely dependent on oil, of course. We're just as demanding when it comes to flipping on our lights or powering up our computers to complain about the outcome of American Idol.

Most of that energy in Nebraska comes from coal, which has its own environmental issues. Nebraska is heavily invested in ethanol, which also has its critics, and we're finally getting on the wind bandwagon, but it will be years before wind and/or solar make a significant contribution to our energy supply.

The underlying solution to all of this is conservation, through more efficiency in our homes and transportation, as well as, yes, changes in our lifestyles.

We owe it to our environment to make wise use of our resources, and to the personnel who sacrifice and even, in the case of the BP workers, give their lives to provide the commodities that keep our economy going.

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