Articles

Irony of BP Disaster is We Don't Need Offshore Oil
By Dennis Goodenough
Madison.com
May 27, 2010 

We are living at a time in history when we can witness what is probably the planet’s second-largest environmental disaster. I say second largest because I consider global warming to be the largest.

Crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for weeks at a time provides jolting graphics that a decade of watching the world’s glaciers recede can’t match. A lesson to learn from the gulf disaster (should we need more lessons) is that once these things get started they quickly become uncontrollable and have consequences larger than the “experts” predicted. That’s clearly true even if the current effort to stem the gusher with a “top kill” procedure succeeds.

We should keep this in mind when contemplating the tipping point of global climate change. I’m sure that British Petroleum quickly realized that a half-million bucks for a sonic shutoff valve at the Deepwater Horizon platform would have been a good investment. Still, leaving safety systems out of large-scale endeavors seems to be how the “smart money” operators do things these days. I’m thinking here of the various oversight mechanisms that were removed from the country’s banking industry, resulting in a financial disaster that is still being cleaned up. The words fox and henhouse come to mind.

Whether we’re bailing out the banks or bailing oil out of the gulf, we all know who will be doing the bailing. As long as corporate CEOs can escape consequences for their behavior, we’ll continue to have “collateral damage” to the environment, the economy -- or civilians in the Middle East, for that matter.

Speaking of the Mideast, perhaps the human suffering caused by the pursuit of oil in that part of the world will have more meaning now that pursuing oil has ratcheted up the suffering in this part of the world. In fact, the terrorists are going to have a hard time hurting us more than BP has. Heck, the misery meter in the gulf states will be gushing past new benchmarks with each passing day.

The irony in all of this is that offshore oil isn’t needed to run the country, or the world for that matter -- a fact that BP and their kind perpetually try to dispel. For over 30 years I have been a “green” building contractor. For most of that time the technology has been available to greatly reduce our “need” for fossil fuels, yet few people are willing to make even the smallest lifestyle changes necessary to yield big reductions in consumption. Just look at the vehicles on our highways and the houses in our subdivisions. The gulf disaster is a case of the chickens coming home to roost. I don’t know if I’m more afraid of the chickens, or that fox guarding the henhouse.

As the Gulf of Mexico rapidly becomes a putrid graveyard, you can be sure that BP is very concerned. That concern, as always, is totally focused on their own welfare.