What a cool name, huh? Deep Water Horizon. Sounds even more cool than Valdez. But now it is just a synonym for cataclysm.
Today the largest oil blow out [it is technically NOT a spill] in history continues to spew untold, misreported quantities of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. And the people grieve. Everyone should grieve over this. As stewards of the earth, we have just slapped our mother in the face. Oh, she'll get over it quickly enough, but if we don't grieve properly she may be left worse off - not better - in due time.
The Wall Street Journal has a great timeline, if you are interested, at the following link...
So let me track our collective grief from a layperson's point of view. I am just a man. Fairly well educated and traveled. I am not a great student of the arts or classical music, but this has little relation to baroque genius like Bach. There is nothing structured or melodic going on here. It is more abstract, maybe even chaotic.
This blog will be short, because we are only on the second/third of seven stages.
The first stage is shock and denial. I might even add wonder to that. I remember watching the news April 21st, one day into this disaster. Just like everyone else [except for BP, maybe] I had no idea what was transpiring a mile below as the rig burned spectacularly on the water, then listed, and finally collapsed. It was an awesome fire. They were lucky, I thought to myself, that the fire would burn up much of the stuff we don't want in the water.
Then I heard grumblings about the blow-out below. About BP memos excusing short cuts to constructing containment countermeasures when deploying the rig. Reminiscent of hexavalant chromium in Hinkley CA... that water will not hurt them, right? And where is the mighty USA in all of this? We trust BP to do it all? Why not help with every resource available and then back-charge them?
So now we are at pain and guilt. Pain is good. It keeps us out of additional trouble, unless we are sick enough to enjoy pain. That is "fuel" for another blog... pun intended. The guilt part is very problematic. Guilt is a stifling emotion. Wayne Dyer named it as an 'erroneous zone' in one of his earliest books. Guilt tends to stick us in place, unable to move forward [moving backward is not an option, folks]. So, many people today that are fortunate enough to have a few bucks in the bank, a car in the driveway, a house in a hip neighborhood [or a plain-vanilla burb, if that is your thing].. those people are guilty enough to project that guilt in weird ways. Like oil consumption, relative to the DWH/BP blow out. Huh?! So let's all consume less. Let's all drive less. Let's all have less convenience. Let's all get rid of oil. We live too richly with oil. We are too fortunate. We don't deserve this privilege. Whoa...
First of all, none of us deserve a damn thing. You get what you get. Cruel bastards get rich every day while idealists suffer in poverty. Sometimes the opposite happens. Yin yang is alive and well.. and karma never lived. Think about it. What goes around SOMETIMES comes around. Life isn't fair and all of our attempts to make it fair will benefit fewer and fewer people. And, if anyone DID deserve a majority of the wealth it is the PEOPLE of United States of America. Not because they are in my country, but because as a people they are far and away the most charitable and giving of any nation in the history of the planet. We have no reason to feel guilty as a people. Plenty of warts accompany the charity we have. Our government could give more [as a percentage of GNI]. But the good far outweighs the bad. And for the record, we need to be much more nationalistic with respect to the intended goodness of our country and it's people. So let's either move on or move abroad, shall we? I surely would not live in a house where I hated the structure and the people.
So that leaves the tired arguments of overconsumption and transportation and big-evil-oil. Let me tackle them in order and with brevity.
Overconsumption is a myth conceived of guilt. The US has a way to go in terms of green energy. But make no mistake about the strides [i.e. not baby steps] that are being made. We are not as good as maybe 30 countries depending on which report you read, but we will be in the top 10 soon enough. If you don't believe that, then we certainly will fail and be a miserable polluting pig of a country thanks to your negative "support." Where are you from? Be proud and be proactive and be positive! Outside of the energy arena, consumption is what it is. We are not going back to subsistence living. If we do that, we will be Ethiopia, who ranked dead last 141st in a ranking of green countries in 2007. And we are no China. Their own wave of consumerism is going to be their biggest challenge soon enough. We all just need to be smarter. It is both a conservative and a liberal thing, too... something everyone can embrace. Stewardship is also at the foundation of Protestant, Jewish and Catholic faiths [I have no knowledge to speak to other faiths]. I remember my church talking about "time, talents, and treasures" in terms of stewardship many years ago. It stuck. I no longer go to church regularly, but the spirit of stewardship is alive in how I live. So we simply need to teach the concept in our schools, churches, and communities. I don't believe any intervention beyond that is needed. It feels good to conserve and momentum is building fast.
Transportation is more of a problem, as we have waited too long and the costs are very high to adopt/adapt mass transit to metro areas lacking in such systems. In my estimate, all metro areas in the 2 to 3 million population range should have a four-spoke light rail system to a downtown core. This is expensive nowadays. I think this is where our government needs to take the lead. I am not into looking to the government for answers to things. But this is a place we are way behind the curve and we should strive to lead the world. We should also start emulating and supplementing the interstate system with a long-distance high-speed rail system. We have vast spaces that present challenges that Japan and Europe do not have. We just need to connect the major "dots." Interstates 10, 20, 70, and 90 for east-west routes. Interstates 5, 35, 55, 75, and 95 for north-south routes would be an excellent plan to start with.
Finally, let's get real about big-evil-oil. It is not evil, people are. It is big now, but not for long. Technology will change that. And BP is not even an American company, it is based in the UK and listed on the London Exchange. They will pay for all of this, and will suffer mightily in doing so. Thousands of people will lose their jobs over time due to this, and many of those will be here in the US because of public fallout and degradation of the BP brand. This is a terrible situation and the cost goes way beyond environmental.
So as we transition to the bargaining and anger phase of grief, let's temper the anger a bit. It is not going to do anyone any good to make hasty decisions or come to irrational conclusions. Things will work out. We don't need to cause more damage than the oil itself.