Like many of her neighbors, Celina Harpe is angry about the oil pollution at her doorstep. No longer can she eat the silvery fish that dart along the shore near her home. Even the wind that hurries over the water reeks of oil waste.
"I get so mad," she said. "I feel very sad."
Harpe, 70, isn't a casualty of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. She lives in a remote corner of Alberta, Canada, where another oil field that's vital to the United States is damaging one of the world's most important ecosystems: Canada's northern forest.
Across the globe, people such as Harpe in oil-producing regions are watching the catastrophe in the Gulf with a mixture of horror, hope and resignation. To some, the black tide is a global event that finally may awaken the world to the real cost of oil.
"This is a call to attention for all humanity," said Pablo Fajardo, a lawyer in Ecuador who's suing Chevron over oil pollution in the Amazon on behalf of 30,000 plaintiffs.
"Oil has a price," he added, "but water, life and a clean environment are worth much more."
Others say previous oil disasters haven't changed things much, and this one won't, either.
"We're addicted to oil, so the beat will go on," said Richard Thomas, an environmentalist in Newfoundland, Canada, where drilling rigs pepper the coast. "Oil companies will make absolutely sure we don't check ourselves into hydrocarbon rehab anytime soon."
There's no denying that the rust-red plumes of oil and tar balls in the Gulf of Mexico are a potential ecological calamity for American Southern shores. More than half the petroleum consumed in this country, however, is imported from other countries, where damage from exploration and drilling is more common but goes largely unnoticed.
No one's tallied the damage worldwide, but it includes at least 200 square miles of ruined wildlife habitat in Alberta, more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater spilled into the rainforests of Ecuador and a parade of purple-black oil slicks that skim across Africa's Niger Delta, where more than 2,000 polluted sites are estimated to need cleaning up.
"The Gulf spill can be seen as a picture of what happens in the oil fields of Nigeria and other parts of Africa," Nnimmo Bassey, a human rights activist and the head of Environmental Rights Action, the Nigeria chapter of Friends of the Earth, said in an e-mail.
"We see frantic efforts being made to stop the spill in the USA," Bassey added. "In Nigeria, oil companies largely ignore their spills, cover them up and destroy people's livelihood and environments."
Despite calls for more domestic drilling and new sources of energy, America's reliance on foreign oil has climbed steadily over the years, from 44.5 percent of consumption in 1995 to 57 percent in 2008.
"Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oil fields all over the world, and very few people seem to care," said Judith Kimerling, a professor of law and policy at the City University of New York and the author of "Amazon Crude," a book about oil development in Ecuador.
"No one is accepting responsibility," Kimerling said. "Our fingerprint is on those disasters because we are such a major consumer of oil."