BP and the Royal Shakespeare Company

Royal Shakespeare Company Theater

Many of you will be familiar with the recent kerfuffle in which the Royal Shakespeare Company decided to reject financial sponsorship from the oil giant BP. BP had been providing tickets for young people at a deeply discounted priced of £5, equivalent to $6 (US).

There are many angles to this story, but one I would like to consider is the way in which we blame energy companies such as BP for our consumption of oil products. It is true that some of the oil company tactics to do with suppressing climate change information have been less than commendable. But the people who protest BP and the oil industry need to face up to the fact that we — all of us — are “to blame”. Oil  and natural gas are being extracted, refined, burned and turned into thousands of “essential” products because that is what we want and need in order to maintain our current lifestyle.

Do the protestors recognize that there is no way in which a small, island nation can support 55-60 million people without an abundant supply of fossil fuels? The population of the British Isles during Shakespeare’s time was in the region of 5 million. Is it our goal to return to that population level? If so, how? (And no, we cannot transition to alternative fuels and maintain our current lifestyle.)

When I look at the picture of the inside of the theater I see floodlights powered by fossil fuel energy and I see people wearing clothes made of artificial fabrics derived from fossil fuels. Rather than protest BP, would it not be more effective to forbid the use of artificial light and to insist that the audience members wear only homespun clothes?

Many of us are quick to challenge those who deny the realities of climate change and other Age of Limits issues. But maybe we are all of us, to some degree, deniers of one kind of another. I am a member of the Episcopalian church. The focus of our church service is the Eucharist. During that ceremony we hear the words from 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26. But we should also consider verse 28, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.”

 

Author: Ian Sutton

Ian Sutton is a chemical engineer who has worked in the chemical, refining and offshore oil and gas industries. He is the author of many books, ebooks and videos.

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