Written by Amanda Crawford-Staub, Outreach Coordinator, Team Main
The dislike for deadly energy companies like oil, coal, and gas is loud. They profit billions of dollars, destroy our environment, and make us sick with little to no accountability for all their wrong doing. I think my disdain for them is justified. BUT-is it possible that these atrocities are all their fault? Maybe I have a bigger role to play than I would like to admit.
If you have ever read Chuck Klosterman you know he is vulgar, blunt, but pretty amazingly clever. Recently, I read his essay McDiculous as it challenges the movie Super Size Me and its attack on the McDonalds industry. In many ways, McDonalds can be compared to big oil- the company profits millions of dollars, makes us sick, probably isn’t very good for our environment. The movie Super Size Me was made to try to hold it accountable. Although the film succeeds in making McDonalds look pretty atrocious, Klosterman argues that the larger issue is actually not McDonalds. He says, “The biggest problem with America is not faceless corporate forces. The biggest problem with America is people who blame faceless corporate forces instead of accepting accountability for their own lives.” Klosterman argues that McDonalds exists to make money by offering people a product that’s in demand. He asks why an organization should care about the negative impacts of people consuming a product they supposedly “don’t want”.
Klosterman mentions that he doesn’t feel completely comfortable defending McDonalds and I don’t mean to totally defend deadly energy companies. I do feel, however, that Klosterman proves an interesting point about corporate and personal responsibility. Just like McDonald’s, deadly energy companies exist and will continue to do so as long as their product is in demand. Now I do understand that products like gasoline are different from a Big Mac in many ways. Not filling your gas tank will change your day quite differently than just avoiding the drive thru. To some extent we are almost forced to consume deadly energy- not necessarily because we want to. Still, I have learned that before I point the finger at these energy companies I should remember that they only exist because I continue to consume their products. The corporation isn’t totally responsible, I am too.
So what is my personal responsibility then? Moving forward I think it will be more important than ever to make it clear what kind of energy I do want, and try my best to support it. The current system makes it difficult not to consume deadly energy but the options are there and they are growing. The number of people I’ve seen pursuing these other options this summer has been remarkable and inspiring. Deadly energy companies need to know I don’t want their products. Give me solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro-energy. This is my responsibility and I hope others recognize it as their too.