Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Gulfs

The only good news about the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico is that it's drowning out the news of Lindsay Lohan's latest scandal.

It's impossible to ignore the news of the oil that's gushing into the Gulf, destroying habitats, wildlife and industry. It reminds me of how I felt watching another debacle unfolding in another Gulf, when the Iraq War was spinning more and more out of control. In the Persian Gulf the world watched the destruction of a country and peoples' lives. In the Gulf of Mexico we're witnessing nothing less than the destruction of an ecosystem.

Another aspect of this debacle is the blame game alternating with denials of responsibility. The problem, as it was in Iraq, is there was no exit strategy. In Iraq speak, the oil would be greeted with debit cards at the pump. It would all be good. So here's the thing--while it's possible to drill a mile deep, it seems to have never occurred to the various engineers involved that they would need to have several back-ups in place in the event of a worst-case scenario.

There's plenty of blame to go around, and it's not just oil executives, engineers, the Coast Guard and government bureaucrats who are responsible. I was driving around town doing some errands, listening to news about the oil spill and getting more and more depressed. I noticed I was low on gas, so I pulled into a Diamond Shamrock (there's no way I'll ever buy gas from a BP station again). That's when it hit me that I'm responsible, too. I'm one of the hundreds of millions of people in the developed world who is addicted to oil.

Time to do my grocery shopping by rickshaw. Time to take the bus to Boulder. Time to start bugging state government to get off the dime and build that light rail system already.

And another thing--please don't tell me that the same people who put astronauts on the moon can't figure out how to stop this oil from gushing. Or that the public isn't willing to help. There are people who can no longer fish for a living along the Louisiana coast just standing by to help BP, the Coast Guard and the government clean up the mess. So far no one's taken them up on their offer. Maybe they're concerned about the liability involved in allowing citizen volunteers to do the work.

If this oil spill isn't a message from God telling the USA to rally together, I don't know what is.
I've been praying that this disaster forces BP to morph into an engineering company in charge of cleaning up other environmental disasters. Or better yet, that this is the environmental disaster to end all environmental disasters. This isn't just about what God does. We can't afford the psychological warfare that opposing parties (and I'm not just talking Democrats and Republicans in Congress) have indulged in for far too long. I pray that people will tire of the blame game and actually start thinking about how to solve this problem. And then get to work.

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