I've noticed that it isn't called the Gulf of Mexico Spill or even just The Gulf Spill. No one calls it the Deepwater Horizon Spill or at least they haven't since after the first couple of days. None of those stuck. This one has been tagged as The BP Oil Spill.
The name has already implied blame, implied who has to stop it, and implied who will have to clean it up. Not a great bit of public relations for BP.
Of course the spill itself has had all sorts of repercussions. Citizen journalists have started grassroots efforts to document and cover the spill. The impact on wildlife is hard to look at but is being covered by the mainstream media as well. But underneath it all there is one thing we know. This spill won't be swept under the rug. People won't ignore it or forget it. Rules on drilling may or may not change but at least it will be looked at. There are lots of people already thinking hard on what the repercussions are - here are 20 Best Lectures to Learn About the Oil Spill.
What if there was a spill almost no one looked at? What if there were multiple spills? What if there was an ongoing series of oil spills that have been going on for fifty years? What if the total volume of oil spilled worked out to at least one Exxon Valdez spill for each of those 50 years?
You'd have heard about it right? You'd be up in arms over it right? We'd have stopped it, cleaned it up, and made sure it doesn't happen again right?
Wrong. The Guardian lays out the details in Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it. More details on the issues surrounding the Nigerian spills can be found at Global Issues.
If the BP Oil Spill hadn't happened in "our" backyard it might have occurred in a place like Nigeria where we could have ignored it for quite a while. Let's hope what we learn and what we decide based on the spill in the Gulf is applied elsewhere.