Oil in the Gulf
I’m still in the process of moving – I cannot believe how long this is taking and it’s still not close to being over – so here is a brief post about an ecological catastrophe. And maybe a mini-rant about politics, but mostly the catastrophe.
The BP oil spill is a disaster of almost indescribable scope and effect: it’s been argued that the Exxon Valdez spill was worse as it was released more quickly and was released closer to shore, and the BP oil has become less concentrated (the solution to pollution is dilution, as a professor of mine used to say), but Valdez hit Prince William Sound in March. There are a limited number of critters screwing and giving birth in Alaska in March. It might be decades before we see which links in the ecological chain of the Atlantic have been broken or twisted beyond repair when an estuary as important as that of the Louisiana wetlands – in May – are suffocated under millions of gallons of crude.
It’s only human to want to place some blame and force someone to take responsibility for cleaning up the mess, but I would greatly appreciate it if the same people who were calling Obama a socialist or a fascist or a communist or whatever last month could kindly stop saying his administration should have stepped in sooner to prevent the problem from getting worse. When you beat the drums and say it is anti-American to be in favor of industry regulation, that big businesses need minimal (or no) oversight because they make the right choices without interference, and that the government continues to overstep its bounds by limiting the free market, why do you then have the authority to insist that the Obama Administration is responsible for either the initial disaster or the ongoing crisis? I’m not saying that particular argument doesn’t have merit – I’m saying that when certain people make it, it is merely a tactical shift in an ongoing attack on a target they want destroyed and damn the circumstances.
Usually this sort of rhetoric would make me giggle in a rather crazy way, but I am very much in favor of the oceans. They do nice things for us. I am very, very much in favor of the Atlantic reefs a couple hundred miles away from where the spill is touching land, and I would appreciate if we could knock off the bullshit blame-game and get the hole plugged and the mess cleaned up before hurricane season begins, okay? In this particular case, the circumstances matter. Big-time. This isn’t a matter of finding lead in children’s toys, folks, the oceans are where half of our oxygen comes from.
My two cents: the main argument in favor of letting BP manage the spill has been how the oil industry has the knowledge and the resources required to manage large spills and the government lacks this degree of specialization. Fine. Let FEMA oversee BP as the company maintains control of the cleanup, and force BP to pay some buddies to help. Rumor has it that Exxon has some experience in these matters.
Edit – forgot the tags