A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

My Photo
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Lessons Learned From the Gulf of Oil (I Mean, Mexico)

The oil spill stemming from the April 20 explosion and fire on a drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico is still with us, getting bigger, and maintaining its newsworthiness. How newsworthy? Consider this: the media are now counting the days that the disaster has been with us. If you’re playing along at home, today is day 50! The last time a crisis merited this type of day-to-day updating was the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979. Back then, ABC News converted their coverage into a permanent late night news show called Nightline.

We could look at the worst ecological disaster from several different view points. This could be a learning moment for the oil industry, which is using trial and error to stop the oil gushing from the Gulf sea floor. It appears that we are just finding out that all of our advanced technologies are inadequate to contain the flow.

That’s the worst part of human arrogance: pretending that we know what to do in every conceivable scenario when actually we hope the worst will never happen even while we pray for divine protection or worse, just cross our fingers behind our backs. For a good example, see Katrina, Hurricane.

Humanity always seems to learn its lessons the hard way. Look at how we’ve resolved conflicts in the past. Sometimes, negotiations and conferences work, but usually we go to arms, butchering millions of people and destroying entire cultures in the process. We know war is bad, yet we keep doing it.

Now we realize that we don’t know everything there is to know about capping a ruptured oil line a mile down in the ocean. Yes, we’ll learn this lesson the hard way too. It’s such a damn shame that all of our human errors have to be so costly.

So, what good will come out of this? We may possibly figure out a better way to drill so deep with maximum safety for humanity and minimal impact on the world’s ecosystems. Or this may be the event that drives the nails of the coffin into fossil fuels forever. We have the technology now to generate energy from other sources like wind. Nuclear energy — which was the ultimate evil when I was reaching maturity (recall the No Nukes movement) — is looking better and better, given that there have only been a few major accidents in its history. With better development of wind and nuclear energy, we may see that we don’t have any further use for coal and oil.

Politically, this event will drive the voices of deregulation underground for a while. A government audit has uncovered widespread corruption and fraud in their own efforts to regulate the fossil fuel industry. Regulators actually allowed oil company executives to write their own inspection reports! Worse still, regulators were in bed — metaphorically and physically — with the oil companies. It’s no wonder there has been no oversight on the oil rigs in the Gulf. Apparently the, sex has been great, but oversight — nada!

Precious time was wasted during the first few months of the disaster with the government and private industry pointing fingers at each other. In truth, there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides. The corrupt government culture in the regulatory agencies has been entrenched for awhile and could probably be traced back through several administrations. Obama has accepted some responsibility for his administration's slow response, but seriously, what else could he have done? He is just one man.

Okay, perhaps he could have shown up at a Gulf press conference in full scuba gear with the biggest mother of all corks under his arm, declaring, “Stand back! I’m going in!” Maybe then the critics might have been impressed, but knowing them they would have derided it as a photo op stunt. Honestly, Obama can’t win no matter what he does!

So this is where I usually put some blame on the Bush administration. Well, why break with tradition! After all, Team Bush did grant BP waivers on the requirement to have a disaster plan on file (April 2008 – note the date, months before Obama took office). Granted, a disaster plan might have been irrelevant given that this crisis is so much bigger than the oil industry ever imagined that no one possesses the right tools to stop the leak...but, hey, I won’t let the facts ruin my fun!

(Thanks for reading! Please remember the entire Gulf of Mexico is now a “no smoking” zone! Go ahead, throw a lit butt on the waters, but don’t say we didn’t warn you!)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learning lessons from this spill? Please look up what they tried in 1979-80: "Deepwater Horizon" or "oil spill gulf of mexico 1979" or "Ixtoc well"
They tried all the same techniques -in 200 feet of water- and they all failed back then. The flow continued for 10 months...

June 9, 2010 at 8:40 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home