The disastrous Gulf oil spill continues to threaten ocean life and menace coastal communities, who are scrambling to brace for its as-yet unknown impact. The epic tragedy is also getting a lot of folks talking, from Obama on down through the ranks of politicians, in corporate boardrooms from Houston to New York, and all over the Internet.
Will the spill hurt fishermen, seafood lovers and wildlife? Should we allow more offshore oil drilling? Are companies, the feds or both to blame? Should we switch faster to electric cars or other alternative fuels?
While it certainly hasn't been easy for us as a society to get off our "addiction to oil," to borrow a phrase from the previous president, the Gulf Spill is shining a light on energy use. It's worthwhile remembering that oil goes in much more than just our gas tanks -- though two-thirds of oil is used for transportation. Oil is also used in thousands of products we use every day.
But before that, as these figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and energyquest.ca.gov show, a surprisingly small percentage of each barrel of crude ends up in products; most is used for fuel. From that relatively small sliver comes plastics, textiles, medical devices and thousands of other items. And making the products listed below consumes more than 1 million barrels of oil per day, according to Energy Information Administration estimates.
By the way, if you are wondering what happened to diesel in the second picture, it is included in "distillate fuel oil."
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