Guest Commentary By Dr. Ben Zuckerman, Sea Shepherd Board of Directors, and Paul Scott

Years ago, American comic strip character Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us." No truer words could apply to the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While BP and U.S. government regulatory agencies have, deservedly, been criticized for their actions, or inactions, the cornerstone blame lies with individual Americans.

Many Americans felt sorrow or anger upon learning of the harm being done to the Gulf environment and coastal communities, but we wonder how many also experienced a feeling of guilt. Because the compulsion to drill for oil in dangerous places, or in treasures such as a pristine Ecuadorian rain forest, ultimately stems from the profligate consumption of oil by those who use internal combustion vehicles - in other words, by virtually all of us.

There are over 240 million gas and diesel-burning vehicles in the U.S.; the vast majority were designed with power (not efficiency) in mind and their size is often grossly out of proportion to the task for which they are employed.

The pump price of oil does not include numerous external costs, for example: Researchers have mapped out where cancer victims live; along freeways and downwind of refineries, cancer rates spike. World Health Organization studies conclude that pollution from internal combustion engines contributes to deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year.

A recent RAND Corporation study concluded that 75-85 billion dollars are spent annually for military costs of protecting access to oil, exclusive of the war in Iraq. It's clear that Iraq's oil reserves provided some of the initial motivation for the Iraq war, whose negative legacies -- including care of physically and mentally wounded soldiers -- will last for decades.

Oil spills kill fish, turtles, marine mammals, shellfish, and birds. The bluefin tuna, one of the most majestic creatures ever to swim the oceans, and already being driven to extinction by over-fishing, is being hammered in its Gulf spawning grounds by the BP oil spill. Should the bluefin go extinct, all of us will own some of the blame, even if we've never eaten sushi or sashimi.

There is no "American right" to cheap energy that causes such harm. It's time to level the playing field. Dirty energy from fossil fuels should be priced according to its true costs to society and the environment so that market forces can work their magic to decrease waste and increase efficiency. Taxes should be levied so that external costs are internalized in the cost of a gallon of fuel thus encouraging people to purchase vehicles that run on domestic electricity rather than on dangerous offshore or on foreign oil.

Within a year, moderately priced plug-in electric vehicles are coming to market.

In the future, such vehicles can be powered by 100 percent clean, renewable electricity from the sun and the wind, while their rate of adoption will be determined by the relative costs of internal combustion vs. electric.

It is unrealistic to expect government alone to engender needed changes. Numerous Americans are financially comfortable and should consider purchasing and using electric vehicles even if their price fails to drop to quite the level of a conventional car. We should buy electric because it is the right thing to do. The ample personal reward will be to feel good; just ask anyone who owns a Toyota Prius.

Continued under pricing of oil will encourage more waste and delay the inevitable while exacerbating the harm to our country and the world's environment. It's up to us all to pay the price for a clean environment and clean energy.

Isn't now a good time to see if we can prove Pogo wrong?

Dr. Ben Zuckerman, UCLA Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Vice President - Los Angeles, CA.  Contact Ben at ben@astro.ucla.edu

Paul Scott, Vice President, Plug In America, Santa Monica, CA - www.pluginamerica.org

Sea Shepherd
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 05 - Gillnet Damage
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 05 - Gillnet Damage
Join the crew of the R/V Martin Sheen as they witness the damage a gillnet can cause to marine wildlife while patrolling the endangered vaquita's refuge in Mexico.
From Taiji to Tanks: A Look at the Barren Lives of Captive Dolphins
From Taiji to Tanks: A Look at the Barren Lives of Captive Dolphins
In November 2015, Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians observed the captive cetaceans at Japan's Adventure World.Though this marine park has dolphins from Taiji, the suffering behind cetacean captivity looks much the same around the world. To learn how you can support Operation Henkaku and help us break t...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 03 - Sailing with Dolphins
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 03 - Sailing with Dolphins
The crew of Sea Shepherd's research sailing vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, sails in search of the smallest cetacean in the world, the endangered vaquita marina porpoise.
M/V Farley Mowat Crew Prepares for Operation Milagro II
M/V Farley Mowat Crew Prepares for Operation Milagro II
Join the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat as they prepare the ship to embark on its maiden Sea Shepherd campaign - Operation Milagro II, Fall 2015 Vaquita Porpoise Defense Campaign. With an estimated 97 individuals remaining, the endangered vaquita is facing the very real threat of extinction. Please ...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 01 - Turtle Rescue
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 01 - Turtle Rescue
The Vlog from the Gulf of California 01 - Turtle Rescue. Follow the crew of the Research Vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, as they patrol the upper Gulf of California in Mexico - to protect the most endangered marine mammal in the world, the vaquita marina porpoise.
Taiji, Japan - Pilot whale tethered and drowned
Taiji, Japan - Pilot whale tethered and drowned
A wounded pilot whale, visibly bleeding and barely able to stay above the surface of the water, is tethered and drowned in the cove by Taiji's killers, after briefly escaping from under the tarps where its pod is being slaughtered.
Operation Milagro II Vaquita Defense Campaign
Operation Milagro II Vaquita Defense Campaign
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society returns to Mexico to protect the critically endangered vaquita marina in the only waters on Earth this petite porpoise calls home. Working in partnership with the Mexican government, Sea Shepherd will strive to bring about a miracle for the endangered vaquita before...
Sea Shepherd Central America Goodwill Campaign for the Pacific
Sea Shepherd Central America Goodwill Campaign for the Pacific
A look at Sea Shepherd Central America's journey of research and observation to Cocos Island, a world-renowned marine sanctuary located 350 miles offshore. The goal of the goodwill campaign is to promote awareness for the protection of species that inhabit the Central Pacific.
Gregg Lowe Supports Sea Shepherd
Gregg Lowe Supports Sea Shepherd
Actor Gregg Lowe, star of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," discusses the importance of Sea Shepherd's work to protect the oceans, why he is vegan for the planet and for all species, and his desire to join a Sea Shepherd campaign to defend ocean wildlife on the frontlines. Video by: Reece Pickering
Operation Henkaku 2015 Dolphin Defense Campaign
Operation Henkaku 2015 Dolphin Defense Campaign
Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians are gearing up for the sixth season of our Taiji Dolphin Defense Campaign. As we return to the cove to expose the brutal capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales, stand with us! The dolphins need you! To volunteer as a Cove Guardian, please email groundcrew@s...
12 Defendants, One Movement. Warning Graphic Footage.
12 Defendants, One Movement. Warning Graphic Footage.
“We were one small boat and five bodies against 500 people on the beach and 50 boats pushing…but there’s no reason not to fight.” On August 12, 61 pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beach of Sandavágur in the Faroe Islands. With the odds stacked against them, in the face of adve...
Operation Jairo Crew Protect Nesting Leatherback Turtle
Operation Jairo Crew Protect Nesting Leatherback Turtle
Just feet from where they were attacked not a month before, Sea Shepherd's Operation Jairo volunteers defend a nesting leatherback turtle from poachers on Pacuare Beach in Costa Rica. All 63 eggs are now being protected in a hatchery, where they will have the best chance of survival out of the hands...
#StandUp250 Corsica (France) - Xavier Figarella
#StandUp250 Corsica (France) - Xavier Figarella
"They asked me, 'do you want cuffs' and I said 'Yes, it's better.' Because inside it was like an explosion.” Xavier is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. For more information on how you can #StandUp...
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Honduras
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Honduras
Meet some of the Sea Shepherd volunteers in Honduras for Operation Jairo, Sea Shepherd's 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign! The crew hails from all over the world, from countries including the United States, Australia, Norway, and France. These volunteers work tirelessly to patrol the beaches in Hond...
#StandUp250 Italy - Marianna Baldo
#StandUp250 Italy - Marianna Baldo
“In the same way that they think they …. have the right to kill these animals, that are wild animals, I have exactly the same right to save them.” Marianna is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. ...
The Trial Begins
The Trial Begins
Video update from Tórshavn court this morning as five Sea Shepherd crewmembers stand trial for StandingUp for the pilot whales of the Faroe Islands. Take action: http://www.seashepherd.org/standup250
Denmark's Shame
Denmark's Shame
The slaughter of cetaceans is outlawed throughout the European Union, including Denmark, in accordance with Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). However, in the Faroe Islands, the slaughter of pilot whales and other small ce...
#StandUp250 Belgium - Christophe Bondue
#StandUp250 Belgium - Christophe Bondue
"We're just here ... to try to save lives." Christophe is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. For more information on how you can #StandUp250 for the pilot whales of the Faroe Islands, and for Sea Shephe...
#StandUp250 South Africa - Rosie Kunneke
#StandUp250 South Africa - Rosie Kunneke
"Calling something a tradition doesn't make it right. I grew up in the tradition of apartheid and we begged the world to come and help us; to get rid of that ugliness." Rosie is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from...
Mass Slaughter Of Pilot Whales In The Faroe Islands. WARNING. GRAPHIC
Mass Slaughter Of Pilot Whales In The Faroe Islands. WARNING. GRAPHIC
WARNING: GRAPHIC. Mass Slaughter Of Pilot Whales In The Faroe Islands. Sea Shepherd Crew Arrested. On July 23 2015, approximately 250 pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beaches of the Faroe Islands. The slaughters, known by the traditional Faroese term ‘grindadráp, took place in two se...
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Costa Rica
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Costa Rica
Meet the team of dedicated volunteers working to protect nesting turtles and their hatchlings on the shores of Costa Rica as part of Operation Jairo, Sea Shepherd’s 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign. This international crew includes volunteers from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, th...
Operation Jairo 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign
Operation Jairo 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign
Sea Shepherd launches Operation Jairo, second-annual sea turtle anti-poaching campaign in Costa Rica, Honduras and Florida. Credits and special thanks: Film by BlueMedia.no Music by Kai-Anders Ryan kaiandersryan.no Photos by Mélanie Chamorel melaniechamorel.com "Turtle in trouble" photo by Jordi C...
Sea Shepherd Captures Rare Footage of Elusive Vaquita During First Sighting since 2013
Sea Shepherd Captures Rare Footage of Elusive Vaquita During First Sighting since 2013
On April 18, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society captured rare footage of the elusive and endangered vaquita porpoise in the waters of Mexico’s Gulf of California, the small cetacean’s only home on Earth. The sighting marks the first time since 2013 the shy creature has been spotted and filmed in ...
Strong Hearts, Iron Will – Sam Simon Crew Pays Tribute to the Late Sam Simon
Strong Hearts, Iron Will – Sam Simon Crew Pays Tribute to the Late Sam Simon
The Crew of Sea Shepherd's M/V Sam Simon pays tribute to the late activist, philanthropist, great humanitarian and TV Executive Sam Simon, thanking him for the wonderful ship he provided for them to save marine life in Antarctica and around the world. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is pro...
Sea Shepherd Does What Others Can't or Won't
Sea Shepherd Does What Others Can't or Won't
Sea Shepherd. Who are we? What do we do? Sea Shepherd is not just an organization. It’s a global movement. Volunteer crews boldly go where others can’t or won’t. Here’s a look at some highlights of some of our recent campaigns to defend, conserve and protect marine wildlife and habitats wo...