Thursday, May 27, 2010

Your daily dose of brightness and sunshine

With the 'top kill' efforts seeming to show some progress, people are starting to be optimistic about finally stopping all that oil from gushing into the Gulf. But make no mistake, the 'top kill' procedure is a measure of last resort, before they basically have to throw their hands up and say "any crackpots have some off the wall ideas out there"? And then we start talking about detonating nukes underwater. Seriously.

But if this doesn't work? Well... all the clamoring for President Obama to send in the military, take over, and so on isn't going to help. David Roberts of Grist explains.
The BP Gulf oil disaster is reaching an interesting phase. People's gut instinct, their first reaction, is to find someone to blame. They blame BP for negligence; the Obama administration for its tepid response; the Bush administration for lax regulatory enforcement. People have been casting about for some way to compartmentalize this thing, some way to cast it as an anomaly, an "accident," the kind of screwup that can be meliorated or avoided in the future.

We are, however, drifting toward a whole different kind of place. [Today] BP is attempting the "top kill" maneuver -- pumping mud into the well. If it doesn't work, well ... then what? Junk shot? Top hat? Loony stuff like nukes? Relief wells will take months to drill and no one's sure if they'll work to relieve pressure. It's entirely possible, even likely, that we're going to be stuck helplessly watching as this well spews oil into the Gulf for years. Even if the flow were stopped tomorrow, the damage to marshes, coral, and marine life is done. The Gulf of Mexico will become an ecological and economic dead zone. There's no real way to undo it, no matter who's in charge.

I'm curious to see how the public's mood shifts once it becomes clear that we are powerless in the face of this thing. What if there's just nothing we can do?
We'll know if there's nothing we can do by tomorrow. Feel better yet?

He goes on to make points about how we do this kind of irreversible damage to the Earth every day in the search and excavation of energy and wonders that if having that sort of catastrophe shoved in our face like this will make us reconsider how we go about things. Easy answer: we're Americans, it won't.

But there we are. The damage has been done already and all the yelling about Superman, big business, or the Government to come in and do something is moot. The 'top kill' move is pretty much it before we have to resign ourselves to a minimum of months of this well throwing oil into the ocean. So then what? Do we just keep bitching, like we always do, and keep trying to retroactively blame someone and take measures to close the barn door after the horses got out... and spilled oil everywhere? Or do me actually try to move forward as a society and actually, for once, try to make a commitment to transforming our energy needs into methods that don't contain a potential "colossal environmental disaster" scenario? I think you know what I think we'll do. But, I do like to be surprised.

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