The Spill Effect

Coast Guard Attempts Burning Off Oil Leaking From Sunken Rig
Source: CBS

On April 20, 2010 British Petroleum had a oil rig explode and sink, killing 11 people and leaked 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. Ever since then BP has done their part to try and clean up the Gulf of Mexico as well has become more eco friendly. In February 2013, almost three years after the incident, BP posted this video to show how far they have come and what the Gulf is like now. Along with soft earthly music in the video, a man fishing is shown, blue oceans, full beaches, a claim saying Gulf has seen its best tourism it has seen in years and men and women at work demonstrating the efforts BP is making to right what they have done. This was a smart video by BP. It is short, not too much is shown and it gives off the image that every wrong that was done has been righted.

According to BP’s website, in the studies that they have done it was concluded that in December of 2010 there was no Macondo oil remained in the water column or offshore sediments. In February of 2011 it was concluded that the oil remains in the shoreline area was diluted enough to be well below EPA standards and safe for human use. In May of 2014 it was determined that only isolated areas had oil submerged or burried. No where on their website however did BP mention the impact to wildlife. Nearly all 21 species of dolphins were effected by the oil spill and it will take about 100 years for the population to recover. 167,000 sea turtles were killed, between two and five million larval fish were killed and other fish species were also effected. Contrary to BP’s website, NWF states that it could take hundreds of years for the Gulf floor to recover.

Source: BBC

With their video and research they posted to their website BP tried their best to make it seem like the oil spill was not as big of a deal to the environment as it really was. Which is something not just BP, but many companies have done to try and keep their image up. Can you blame them? BP is a huge oil company in the United States and the spill already cost them billions, they cannot afford to lose more. The Gulf is recovering, people are starting to go back, wildlife is recovering. BP just pick and chose the stats that would make them look better. They understand that if people wanted every detail of the spill that it would not be hard to find. I do not think BP deliberately lied and posted false information on their website and in that video. If they did someone would have caught them and BP would be in more trouble than they would be if they posted every fact about the spill.

Regardless of if you could blame BP for padding their stats, the question is; was it ethical? Should they have done it? The answer to that question depends on what school of thought you believe. Some believe that you say what you need to say without lying, and others believe you say the truth knowing the consequences. Most people believe the latter of the two.


Less Liking, More Doing


We live in a world today where people “like” a sad image rather than act upon it. Volunteer rates among United States citizens have declined since 2011. More and more people however have continued to like sad images to show their support for whatever cause people are appeasing to. Crisis Relief Singapore has realized this and in 2013 they started their, “Liking isn’t helping” campaign. By posting pictures like the one above to demonstrate what it looks like when someone posts a picture of of any form of disaster or cruelty around the world. As Crisis Relief Singapore posted pictures similar to these around the internet, they also attached links to for people to go to if they wanted to volunteer. An instant like this where a share, could go a long way.


The image is quite powerful. In it there is one person tending to what appears to be a wounded child while there are twelve hands liking the cause. While it is easier to be a bystander, or a liker, that is not getting society and people in need anywhere. The one person helping is doing more than those twelve likes will ever do. And with the campaign that Crisis Relief Singapore posted, the majority of people who see it will like it. Maybe though there will be the select few that stand up and volunteer for the good of the cause. To help a kid like the on in the picture.

Like many people, I once thought that posting campaigns like these would not amount to anything. Then I reminded myself of the Ice Bucket Challenge. An act to raise awarness for ALS which went viral during the summer of 2014. The premise of it was to either to post a video of you getting ice water dumped on your head while challenging three other friends, or donate $100 to the ALS Association. While I saw the challenge explode over Facebook, I assumed that it was just people dumping water on their heads to avoid the $100 donation. One year later, 17 million participants later, 2.5 mllion donations and over $115 million raised; I quickly realized I was wrong. What seemed like an innocent thing to tag your friends in turned out to have incredible results.

Turn to the Liking isn’t helping campaign. While volunteering has declined in America since 2011, the rate of decline slowed since 2013. Between 2012 and 2013 1,898 fewer people volunteered. In 2014, 142 more people volunteered compared to 2013. So maybe the campaign has seen some results after all. With the power of social media, all it takes is one share. The ability of a share is more powerful than you think. Fifteen percent of people on Facebook have more than 500 friends. With every share, with every view of the image there is a person closer to volunteering.