It’s not often that we get a direct clear example of the externalities of oil consumption. An “externality” is when someone, say a big oil company like Exxon, makes other people pay some of the costs associated with their business. Most of the externalities related to the Oil business are the health effects we get from breathing exhaust fumes, or the cost of launching wars in the Middle East to protect oil supplies, etc.
The video below has Rachel Maddow interviewing the State Attorney General in Arkansas about a lawsuit he’s filed against Exxon, and the issues that Arkansans are facing because of the oil spill.
The benefit to the businesses leveraging the externality effect is they get to say “Who us? Pay the health bills of all those people whose lung disease was caused by breathing exhaust fumes? We didn’t cause that!” Why? Because they’ve found some form of deniability with which they can externalize the cost of health care for people sickened from side effects of the product.
|After flooding that back yard, the oil
flowed out into the street
But sometimes an event happens where the Oil company is directly responsible for the effects. In this case the city of Mayflower Arkansas got inundated by raw crude oil when a pipeline burst a couple months ago. Exxon is now acting to deny payments to those people, and are dragging their feet about helping to correct the problem. People in the neighborhood are complaining about cardiovascular problems and more. It’s horrible.
This is why we need to shift our transportation system away from fossil oil.
The difference between a day when an oil spill occurs, and every other day, is that we get to see the effect of that oil concentrated in one place.
On normal days the oil spill still occurs, it’s just spread all over the place, spewing out of every tail pipe. It’s not many days we get to see the effects of fossil oil concentrated in one place.
|The oil flowed out from between these houses|
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