Tuesday, June 8, 2010


From USA Today: Another Gulf rig has been leaking oil for 5 weeks

This is obviously disturbing news. I'm going to go off-script a bit and ask for your opinion (related to the econ perspective of course) ... Do you think that people's values will change as a result of all of this? Do you think that people will change the way they view driving their cars and heating their homes? Do you think people will be more open to policy change (e.g. carbon taxes or cap-and-trade legislation) that will cost them money but promote more sustainable uses of natural resources? Have you changed your behavior, your willingness to pay, your appreciation of the fact that your "need" to purchase so much gasoline is partially to blame for this? Sorry about that last bit, but I have to keep reminding you that you this is just an example of Hardin's tragedy, and we are all the herdsmen. It's too easy to blame BP (though they most certainly are responsible for blatant rule-breaking) and shirk personal responsibility. All of us that drive cars and demand low prices for gasoline (and other petroleum products) share in the blame here.


Wanda Lewis said...

I believe that people will not change their values over an oil leak. They will always want to put the blame on someone else, in this case BP. Everyone is angry about the oil spill, but are they angry enough to give their lifestyle to prevent these thing from occuring? I don't think so. The environment is not priceless, because we cleary value using cars and low prices. However, the marginal cost that we are experiencing from all the damage from the oil spills is beginning to be greater than the marginal benefits of lower gas prices and driving our cars everywhere.

Jacob Stanley said...

I would like to think this will change people's perspective of the environment, though it may be short lived. For example, I ask random people I talk to about the oil leak( or it just comes up in conversation) and it seems that everyone is quick to point fingers at BP. Like Dr. Schumann says, we all use fossil fuels in some way or another. People ar pissed off right now because of the damage this accident has caused, but once it is fixed most, if not all, opinions will revert to how they were before the spill. In short, the majority of people are only concerned because it is an ongoing issue. I'd say give it 2-3 months after the spill has been all cleaned up for most to return to their normal opinions. Personally, I have seen some of the effects from this, and it has done very little to make me change my ways of life.

Thomas Cruz said...

I feel as if the public in general doesn’t quite make the full connection between their behavior, our dependence on oil and the oil spill in the Gulf.

Consumers still don’t seem to understand that the individual choices that we make everyday have a huge effect on our planet. With each big environmental accident (example: Exxon Valdez, California coast) we keep hoping that this time, changes will occur to individual behavior and policy making. But they don’t.

People can’t “see” the damage being caused in the Gulf because for the most part, the oil has stayed well offshore. Beaches haven’t really been affected so vacations haven’t had to be canceled. While commercial fishing has been shut down in some areas, the average consumer has not felt this impact at their dinner table. Unfortunately, people only respond to that which affects them directly.

Environmental groups are all over the Gulf area trying to capture photos of the damage and explain how this oil spill is affecting the environment, trying to get people to change their habits, but not many dead animals have surfaced as a result of the spill – so impressing the general public is not an easy task.

Other similar spills have come and gone and environmentalists were always hoping that they would result in changes to consumer behavior or to public opinion and policy making – to no avail.

Will Americans reevaluate their lifestyle as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf? Will they consume less gasoline or buy more environmentally friendly cars? Not yet. In my opinion, it will take many more such “accidents” to awaken the average consumer – but I do think that with each one, we make progress. We move closer to awareness and to making people think and reflect on their actions. On the cost and benefits of using (and abusing) of our natural resources.

Chris Smith said...

No, people will not change a thing. They will only realize what effects them financially. The cost of seafood going up, etc..Jacob has a very strong point in the fact that if people do change it will be "short lived." How many disasters have happened and people change for a short time only to convert back to their old ways afterwards??

Joel Garner said...

Yes, I did hear their was another rig leaking but what can be done when everyday we all depend on this oil to survive. Really it depends on our survival. So yes people (me, myself, and i included) are upset over the devistation in the BP Case and this one but i'm sure their have been many more unaccounted for just not at this level. Now all we can do is clean up assess the damages and move forward. We need oil we just need to find a more efficient way of mining this resource.

Peter Salyga said...

When electric cars finally begin to rollout people will finally be offered a sustainable alternative to gasoline. Then the shift away from oil dependency in my opinion will take place. I think values will change but there a lot of things that need to fall in place - most important is for energy alternatives to be affordable. With all the news lately surrounding BP and oil prices, alternative energies have a open break to come and make a viable market with consumers. Consumers will bite and a shift to new tech will begin. I don't think we should expect everyone to dump their cars immediately following the oil spill, but we can expect that attitudes are beginning to change.