The Morality of Oil

Christine Whelan | Posted on 05/06/10

The morality of stewardship for our planet doesn't necessarily mean leaving resources in the earth. It means using all of our available knowledge responsibly to protect our plant as we gratefully accept its many gifts.

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting post this morning on the morality of the oil business. 

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill just keeps getting worse -- and the photos of beached, oil-soaked dead fish and turtles are heart-breaking. So is drilling for oil in our oceans, where this kind of accident is a possibility, morally wrong? Writes Sullivan:

At some point, those of us who see our relationship to the natural world as something more than mere economics - as something sacred - need to face up to the fact that our civilization is not taking this sacredness seriously enough. When do we ask ourselves: by what right do humans believe we can despoil the earth for every other species with impunity? By what self-love have we granted ourselves not just dominion over the earth but wanton exploitation of its every treasure?

Is there no point at which we can say: this is enough? 

In part, it's a NIMBY issue -- we're fine getting oil from far-away lands, but scream "not in my backyard" when there's a problem. But the larger issue to me is how we define the concept of "stewardship" of our planet: Does it mean stopping the quest for energy sources close to home, or does it mean figuring out how we can do it in a safer, more responsible way?

Those who want to push for another look at nuclear power get slammed with a Three Mile Island comparison, so how about another idea? Biotech innovations: In Forbes.com Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, points out that we were developing microorganisms in the 1980s that would "eat" the oil in the event of such a disaster, and because of politics, those innovations were squashed. It's time to think about the morality of that decision.

The morality of stewardship for our planet doesn't necessarily mean leaving resources in the earth. It means using all of our available knowledge responsibly to protect our plant as we gratefully accept its many gifts.

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