02 June 2010

Boycott BP? Boycott The Lot Of Them!

There's a "Boycott BP" movement growing on the Internet at the moment - a response to BP's lamentable inability to plug, kill, cap, or otherwise contain their "Deepwater Horizon" oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

It's an understandable response, but BP is the wrong target.


First, BP is hardly unique among oil companies in its arrogant disregard for the environment, human rights, democracy, life, and anything else that gets in its way. A few examples:

But the oil companies behave as they do because we enable them. We use their oil, and as long as we keep demanding more of it, they will keep producing it until it is economically and geologically impossible for them to do so.

Because easily-accessible supplies of oil are fast running out, that means more offshore drilling, more drilling in protected land, in the Arctic, in sub-Antarctic waters. More oppression of indigenous peoples. More greenhouse gas emissions. More power, more money, and even less accountability.

So the answer is not to boycott BP, but to boycott all the oil companies - by using less of the stuff. Not driving when we could walk, bike or take public transport. Not wasting oil on unnecessary journeys.

And, at a political level, lobbying and arguing for better public transport, better support and better safety features for walkers and cyclists, less air travel and more train travel. Less new roads and more new cycleways. And a ban on further deepwater offshore oil exploration and drilling - not least off the coast of New Zealand.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our oil companies, but in ourselves.


LentenStuffe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathleen Jones said...

here here!!Someone has to say it, or we're all f********* I sometimes think it's too late, at least for us in northern hemisphere. But at least you've still got a pristine wilderness down there.

Mim said...


Tim Jones said...

Thanks for your support! Kathleen, I wish it were true that "you've still got a pristine wilderness down there", but New Zealand is far from that: our indigenous flora and fauna have suffered greatly from introduced predators, and the "rip shit & bust" mentality of settler New Zealanders has trashed some parts of the country very thoroughly.

Neverthless, due to our low population density and the far-sighted actions of some courageous people who have been prepared to swim against this "develop at all costs" mentality, we do have substantial areas of close-to-pristine national parks and other protected lands.

That is why many of us are so determined to stop our current Government's plans to mine everything it can lay its grubby paws on so that we can "catch up with Australia".

Helen Lowe said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head, Tim--so long as we continue to drive cars at the level we do, this quest for oil will carry on largely unchecked. And thank you for mentioning places like the Niger Delta, where protest leaders have also been executed by the state, eg Ken Sarowira (sp?)

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Helen. Yes, the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa was one of the few times the situation in the Niger Delta got worldwide attention - for those who haven't heard about this, see


(I had to look up the spelling, by the way!)

Mary McCallum said...

great post, Tim - have linked to it on my blog

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Mary (and thanks also to Matt for the link from his blog).

Claire Beynon said...

Tim - excellent post. Thanks for saying it as it is. C

Determinist said...

This whole thing brings a tear to my eye - literally. I agree that they should all be boycotted.

The story of Ken Saro-Wiwa is especially moving. All he was trying to do was protect his homeland. Killed because he was raising a fuss.

Not acceptable.