stormy petrol

Reader Rant
As a result of all severe storms or hurricanes, such as the recent devastating Hurricane Irma, how many petrochemical based non-essential luxury sail boats are now littered about in our oceans? Who is responsible for the destruction of our environment which has been now littered with thousands of chunks of petroleum based carbon, plastics and glass? Is it environmentally ok for us as “yacht” owners to lose our boat (basically a hunk of glass and petroleum) to the bottom of an ocean due to a storm? Are we modern day yachtsman exonerated by being subject to an act of god such as a storm? Or, perhaps, is there equally an environmental responsibility for us yachtsmen who knowingly put that chunk of petrochemical in the ocean to use for pleasure boating? Every given year there is a reasonable probability of a severe boat breaking storm of fury from mother nature. Does this anticipated potential outcome of losing our boat to the ocean not make us yachtsman potentially equal to “big oil” in being labeled as environmental terrorists if that is how we chose to throw the label around? After all this is a luxury sport and we as owners of sailboats and yachts are responsible for buying that petroleum based luxury product and putting it at risk to become another chunk of waste in our oceans and the environment.
How many yachtsmen deliberately scuttle old, and unwanted fiberglass boats into the ocean rather than properly reclaim and recycle them? Is this not equally environmental terrorism by the yachting consumer of petroleum products?
Do you know that most sail boats, including the full spectrum of dinghies to luxury yachts, are made of petroleum based chemicals (which come from offshore drilling, drilling in environmentally sensitive areas etc.) such as the following:
“Styrene monomer is one of the key aromatic hydrocarbons derived from benzene and ethylene and used in the production of polymers such as polystyrene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, styrene butadiene latex and styrene-butadiene-rubber. It is also used to make unsaturated polyester resins. It is a colourless, oil, toxic and flammable compound produced in industrial quantities from petroleum.”
I’m all for a clean healthy environment. It’s currently trendy to hate the petroleum industry and everyone is quick to heap on criticism of the producers of petroleum products without understanding their own direct and indirect consumer participation in supporting the industry. Respectfully, this is flawed logic and hypocritical behavior. None of us want the petroleum industry in our own back yard but we all want to use petroleum products for our fancy luxury hi-tech toys at the best and cheapest cost possible.
Restricting offshore and onshore access to drilling might be a solution society has to live with for us all to have a more sustainable, cleaner environment but please understand if we are to be fair perhaps we equally need to be open to a ban on placing our petrochemical based yachts that we all love into the ocean due to the reasonable risk of loss of the craft to the ocean and the resulting environmental damage. Similarly, we need to acknowledge that our luxury yacht toys should likely cost a lot more due to higher petroleum supply costs once we restrict petroleum supply itself by restricting drilling access, pipeline development and general ability for the petroleum industry to operate. Perhaps consumers of luxury sailing yachts should be taxed and environmental reclamation tax to be fair if we choose to put that petrochemical boat at risk to being lost to the sea?
Coincidentally, as I write this note I can’t help but notice that more than one of the advertisers on this website is advertising a petroleum based product for use in sailboat construction, repair parts or clothing. I’m not pointing this out to simply be rude or cheeky but only to create self-awareness that our use of and addiction to these products as consumers is literally everywhere. We all share responsibility for our consumer choices. Environmental ethics of production and consumption of petroleum products cannot be severed from each other – the environmental responsibility is shared by both consumer and producer.
My point is that if we are all going to have an honest conversation about the future of petroleum products in our environment, then we need to take an honest look at, and have an honest conversation about, our own personal consumption habits and uses of petroleum based products.
Are we prepared to stop using petroleum products in fabrication of our boats (as well as pretty much everything else on the boat these days – from our hand-held radio, GPS to our hi-tech personal sailing clothing)? Are we prepared to pay three, four or ten times more for all the products we use which are made from petroleum as a base by limiting access to the petroleum supply chain (which is sure to occur if we significantly restrict drilling access – on shore and offshore)?
As well, not everyone in the petroleum industry is employed by “Big Oil”. There are literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses operating directly in, or ancillary to, the petroleum industry. Most of the people working in the business are genuinely decent, hardworking, environmentally conscious people – they are not environmental terrorists – they share the same goals and objectives as you do – clean healthy air and water while having access to a good lifestyle; access to air travel, trains, busses, ship transportation as well as a job to support their families. Are we prepared to forego those jobs and abandon all the products these petroleum companies sell and distribute, such as resins, polystyrenes, rubber and epoxies? We can expand our honest look at our use and addiction to petroleum products to pretty much every aspect of our everyday life, not to mention the luxury pastime of the sport of sailing.
Are we prepared to go back solely to wooden boats and canvas sails, and leather? If not then how much of a premium are we all prepared to pay to have all our petroleum based sailing products sourced from a limited, restricted producing field of petroleum feedstock?
This would be a great conversation for all of us to undertake as we do take a genuine, honest look in the mirror while considering our own personal consumption habits and corresponding indirect support for offshore drilling, any environmentally sensitive drilling areas etc., etc. which is pretty much everywhere in which drilling occurs if you ask the locally affected parties involved.
Don’t be fooled by my comments above. My thoughts are more in line with your published thoughts on this issue than you might expect from reading my note (and my other note of last week). I’m just not sensing that we (collectively as critics) have a sense of self awareness in our complicity of the industry when we become aggressive critics of it; without this self-awareness of our own contribution our credibility to debate these matters comes into question.
I would love to see some content on your website that explores a conversation on all aspects of this tricky issue and our shared sport of passion – production and consumption of petroleum products in our sport of sailing and its impact on the future of our oceans and the environment.
I truly mean for this note to be constructive and provoke thought and debate on what is surely to become one of the most important topics facing this and the next generation.
I have no doubt that if you open this discussion in a broader format that we will all learn something. In turn perhaps, that might help us move forward in a meaningful way to find practice doable solutions that we can all live with, that result in a better more sustainable environment for all.
Thanks for your open mind to careful thought on this topic of discussion.
Anarchist Robert