Thursday, July 15, 2010

At Least BP's Oil Spill Was In "Our" Backyard

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.


Lene Andersen said...

at first, I was going to comment on my sadness about this line "Rules on drilling may or may not change but at least it will be looked at." Because it made me realize how very likely this event the rules will not be changed. That once the they have managed to stop the gushing (oh, please - let them be able to do that), chances are very good that it'll fit in the same box as the aftermath of Katrina. Not dealt with years after because most of the people suffering or poor.

And then I clicked on your link about Nigeria and now I am completely speechless with horror.

David G said...

"Rules on drilling may or may not change..."

I wasn't sure how to phrase that sentence. I don't think there will be no changes to the rules and regulations on underwater drilling but the Americans may decide to do no more than toughen their standards to finally match the rest of the world. So we may end up with the Gulf being as safe as the North Atlantic. Maybe...

The other problem is that tougher rules and more safety measures don't prevent leaks and blowouts. It may prevent some. It may have even prevented what happened in this case. The problem is the leaks and blowout's it doesn't stop may be even more problematic.

We can't stop drilling and pumping oil. At least not yet. We may not be able to prevent all leaks. We should be able to prevent some though. We may not be able to prevent environmental damage when a spill does occur. We certainly should never have another case like Nigeria happen ever again.

Of course the Nigerian case shouldn't have gotten this bad in any case. That it is this bad and has been for so long is very telling on a lot of levels.

Unknown said...
Helps to put the size into perspective.