Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Big Slick

By now, everyone is aware of the massive oil slick moving towards shore from the oil rig that exploded last week. In addition to the tragic loss of life, the ecological impact will most likely ripple through the economy for the remainder of the year. Not to mention the loss of sea life which will occur as a direct result. I know, you're thinking, "here goes another bleeding heart liberal about to attack the oil industry". Perhaps. But is anything I have said so far inaccurate? There was loss of life. The economy will be effected, some more directly like the fishing and tourism industries of the area and some indirectly as the price of seafood increases. And, of course, the cost for cleanup incurred by both the federal and state governments (our tax money) and the oil company itself who may or may not pass along the cost to consumers.

Obviously, we are not in a position to stop off shore oil drilling. One accident should not scare us from any activity, whether it is space exploration or the use of nuclear energy. But there does need to be an accountability when people die in the attempt. Has the technology which allows us to drill deeper and deeper into the ocean's depths outpaced our ability to do it safely? What actually went wrong here? Human error, or is the concept of this deep underwater drilling not thought completely through? If we are to continue to hang our economic future on the idea that we can provide for our own energy needs through expanded off shore drilling, don't we need to know if the drilling can be done safely?

Eventually, there will be some conclusions drawn from this disaster as well as the mining disaster in West Virginia that took so many lives. The proponents of these types of energy sources will do well to become a part of the investigations if they expect everyday Americans to continue to support them. And yes, they will probably take some lumps and be castigated by those who do not support these sources of energy but that is part and parcel to advocating a policy or process that occasionally fails and results in death and destruction. Risk and reward.

For me, it seems more and more obvious that we need to change our dependence on fossil fuels. We are more dependent on foreign sources for our energy than 30 years ago. In my opinion, all 30 years featured pro-business Presidents, including President Clinton. I believe that this nod towards the existing business mind set prevented our country to look into the future and begin investing in energy sources that were cleaner, safer and more sustainable. Yes, it may have resulted in higher energy prices. Perhaps we might be paying $5 or more per gallon of gas like much of Europe. But also, perhaps, we wouldn't have spent a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last 10 years. Perhaps we would be getting 30, 40 even 50 percent of our energy from cleaner sources. Perhaps we wouldn't be forced to put safety aside to obtain our energy but could have a combination of energy sources including wind, steam, nuclear, coal, oil and solar. A balance.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post. We do need new sources of energy, but I believe we should consider the amount of energy we need.
    Because we swear allegiance to a free enterprise system, conservation cannot hold its own against the never-ending enterprises that are begun, not from necessity for for profit or because they are wanted.
    So we develop night skiing, artificial snow making, the egregious lights and fountains of Las Vegas, etc.
    But this smacks of planning and has the taint of socialism.
    Yet, as individuals, we are counseled to plan our work, plan our retirement, plan our future. We may do this alone and no harm done. But if we should make an effort together to plan the future of our nation, we have crossed the line into socialism,or communism, or something worse.
    An equable debate on this topic always fails because, over the years, dominant minds have woven the arguments of capitalism into the legal and social fabric of the nation. This results in hints of treason if one suggests changes in the method of economy.
    Human nature means that most of us believe the worst won't, or can't, happen. On top of this denial, we place the element of risk, praising ourselves for our boldness.
    I believe that today risk is an element of profit only.
    As risk may apply to change, or our safety, the word risk becomes modified to risky, as in "Too risky!"

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  2. Lincoln,

    Thanks for the comment and for reading my blog. I appreciate both. I especially like your analysis of how, as individuals we are encouraged to plan for our future but when we get together we are smeared with the negative connotations of any system not capatilist. I have a blog mulling around in my head about the myth of American individualism, not from the standpoint that many Americans have and will accomplish great things on their own, but from the standpoint that more great accomplishments were acheived by people banding together.

    Again, thanks for the input.

    Joe

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