Spill Baby Spill

May 3rd, 2010 | 7 Comments
Climate Change, Gulf of Mexico Oil Blow-Out, News, PBS Television Show: "Saving the Ocean"

The Reverend glances from computer to TV, then back to the blog he’s reading, and writes to his atheist friend, “And as I read this from you I’m watching the news on the oil spill.  Seems to trivialize it to call it a “spill.”  Milk spills. A can of oil spills. But this? Hard to have any sense of scope.

“And I suppose you are cursed by the first hand knowledge of the sea critters—still for me mainly the stuff of Planet Earth and the Disney Ocean movie and PBS specials, and your books.  You, meanwhile, have these critters in your insides.

“I think of that haunting verse from Genesis: ‘The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that the inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.’”

KPA-Zuma-Rex Features

But where is the wickedness in an accident? The oil company, the oil industry, would never have wanted this. We know they regret the loss, bemoan the failure of the valves. We know that like us, their hearts fill with frustration and pain.

Worse than wickedness is our mere refusal to learn and move ahead. Though the time for oil is passed, though oil and coal are so wrong for so many reasons, we continue to wish and to plan for more oil for the future. Political superstars and partygoers lead the chant “Drill baby drill.” We vote instead for change, but then we are told we must drill more.

Change we can count on? Or change we can bereave in.

What we can count on is that what happens will happen again. The wickedness is in our collective refusal to count on what we have known for 30 years—that we need clean energies. It’s in our refusal to learn what we should have learned from all the spills since. It’s in our refusal to count on the inevitability of the accidents we all know will happen.

The Santa Barbara blowout, Ixtoc I, The Argo Merchant, the Exxon disaster…

Ken Salazar, courtesy of csbj.com

The Interior Secretary says this is a “very, very rare event.”  He says there have been well over 30,000 wells drilled into the Gulf of Mexico, “and so this is a very, very rare event.” The oil from those off-shore rigs accounts for 30% of the nation’s domestic oil production, he adds. “And so for us to turn off those spigots would have a very, very huge impact on America’s economy right now.” [http://bit.ly/buSoS0]

I say the spill’s a very, very inevitable event. Especially with 30,000 wells drilled. Thirty thousand. There are roughly 4,000 wells producing oil there.

In 2007 the federal Minerals Management Service examined 39 rig blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico between 1992 and 2006 [http://bit.ly/a7FleE].

So, a blowout every four months.

The Secretary must be a gambler at heart, betting every blowout can be capped. What’s bizarre is, he seems to be placing the bet he’s just lost.

If I was at the table with him, I’d be watching him lose his shirt. Me, I’d bet the house on an inevitable catastrophe. But there’s no comfort there either. This is a game you really can’t win.

The Secretary’s worried about ‘huge economic impact.’ As if demolishing Gulf tourism and seafood worth $67 billion yearly isn’t huge economic impact.

As the Reverend says, we trivialize it.

To be an environmentalist is to constantly hope you are too fretful, too much a pessimist, and wrong; but then saying through clenched teeth and tears, “I told you so.”

Yes, as the Reverend says we trivialize. Certainly an understatement. We aggrandize the trivial, and trivialize everything else.

7 Responses to “Spill Baby Spill”

  1. Heather Reeves says:

    And Edison thought coal, etc. would be temporary. That the ingenuity of America would soon harness the power of the tides or anything cleaner. Tick tock! Just remember the poor, downtrodden, unappreciated energy industry when you see pics of wildlife and small fishing businesses affected by this. How DARE we hinder oil, etc. with unnecessary regulations and bring potential DISASTER to the country. Disaster? I was a kid when Exxon Valdez happened and middle aged when they finally paid for their own catastrophe–and then only because of the windfall they enjoyed when gas hit $4/gallon. I wish I could still say I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  2. Stacy Clark says:

    Beautifully said. I can only add two words: Thank you!
    Stacy Clark

  3. Well said. Yes, the wickedness is in our collective refusal to count on what we have known for 30 years—that we need clean energies. Yes, aggrandize the trivial, and trivialize everything else. We also turn a blind eye to what suits us. Not to better risk manage with the knowledge of a blowout every four months is simply negligent. Not to require greater risk management contingencies when there have been 7 major spills in the world in the past 18 months is negligent. Negligent of the industry, negligent of Government.
    But, we continue to hope. Maybe this one will be “the one” that tips the scales.

  4. Betsy Walker Hasegawa, Japan says:

    Indeed Carl Safina rivetting, sobering, necessary–please, whoever can, help him–broadcast, turn up the volume! Include his May 3rd final words: “To be an environmentalist is to constantly hope you are too fretful, too much a pessimist, and wrong; but then saying through clenched teeth and tears, ‘I told you so.’ Yes, as the Reverend says we trivialize. Certainly an understatement. We aggrandize the trivial, and trivialize everything else.” HEY-HEY! Together make the most of this grand chance now!

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  6. Good Forex says:

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  7. Beth says:

    30 thousand wells, 4000 operational, how many which are operational are deepwater?

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