Over the past weeks, I’ve listened with great interest to people’s opinions about the BP debacle in the Gulf of Mexico. With little deviation, most reactions have been a combination of disgust, anger, and finger pointing. While I certainly understand such feelings, let me offer another perspective. Warning: it probably will not be popular…

To start off, let me make this clear. BP (and other contractors involved) is certainly responsible for great negligence and sheer incompetence. They should be held responsible for their role in this disaster, and I personally hope that they are made to help for years to come in cleanup and restoration efforts.

However, before we begin erecting soapboxes against oil companies, let’s not forget our own culpability. Sure, BP was negligent–perhaps criminally so. But what caused this? Greed? Sure. Oil companies are out to make money, and they–like everyone else–want to make as much of it as they can. But what drives their profits? Do they make money simply from the pure act of extracting crude from beneath the earth? No. They make money by fulfilling a need for petroleum. And currently in the West (and now the developing world), that need is thoroughly insatiable.

In the West, we More >