Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oil, the Environment, and the Limits of Human Abilities

I've not written much about the tragic oil spill in the Gulf.  I do believe that it could have been prevented, but there have been a number of factors that have conspired to create this situation. 

First is our propensity to use oil and oil related products.  As Charlie Crist said on the Today show this morning, this disaster should be a wake up call to Americans that we need to change our habits when it comes to oil usage (and he's a Republican).  But consider how we drive -- how I drive.  I drive a small car, but . . . There are all the plastics we use, etc.  Oh, and he said that the judges decision to stop the moratorium on drilling was, to use his own words -- "ludicrous!"  (Again, he's a Republican).

Then there's greed.  Consider that this accident might not have happened had the companies used the same technology used in the North Sea deep water drilling, adding an extra layer of protection of a remote shut off system as required by Brazil and Norway, but not the US.  Yes, this has never been tested in real life, and there are questions of its usefulness, but we'll never know in this case because BP didn't want to spend the extra 500,000 and under the Bush Administration, it was decided not to require them.

As with the drug situation that compounds immigration, we as Americans are our own worst enemies.  We want what we want without the consequences.  But that isn't the way life works.  The more we push the boundaries, the more likely we're going to have trouble.  The reality in this case is that the only people who know how to fix the problem are the ones who caused it.  And as for the clean up, well, you can't really do clean up well until you shut off the source of the problem.

I saw yesterday that Kevin Costner has a partial solution to getting oil out of the water.  Let's try it.  Let's do what we can, but let's also remember the role we all play in the problem.  Americans say they want smaller government, but then complain when the government isn't there to save them.  Ironic, isn't it!

I'll not be saying a whole lot more on this issue, but the point I'd like to end on is simply this -- we often make the beds we sleep in!

1 comment:

z.electric said...

The single biggest consumer of oil/gas related products is industry.

Forget just plastics, EVERYTHING you consume involves burning oil/gas based resources somewhere in its life cycle. It'd take a momentous societal change to weane us off the stuff.