“Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain’s majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.” - George Carlin
The Gulf of Mexico environmental catastrophe in the BP oil rig is getting uglier and uglier by the day. Since the explosion in the rig on April 20th, there has been constant leakage of polluting oil into the sea, which not only causes damage locally but which also contaminates shorelines and kills millions of living things in its wake. Not only has the disaster caused untold environmental damage that will take decades to reverse and has cost human lives, but also now it appears that al this could have been prevented.
A memo has now shown that BP admitted to US congressional investigators its decision to ignore warning signs hours before the explosion in the rig. Tests indicated that something was wrong on the Deepwater Horizon, yet BP made what they termed a “fundamental mistake” in continuing operations (as the memo says). Two hours after the abnormal test results were recorded, the rig exploded and 11 workers lost their lives and the environmental disaster unleashed. However, that is not all. The memo also indicated that problems were found in equipment meant to provide fail-safe protection against a blowout.
BP today started the “top-kill” clean-up operation, while the world waits anxiously to see if this is effective. Heavy mud is being pumped into the oil-leaking rift undersea. If oil stops flowing to the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, BP officials will know that this latest effort to stem the continued leakage has been successful. It is hoped that this intervention will stemt eh flow of oil, but we won’t know until Thursday evening local time.
The gusher has spewed at least 7 million gallons of crude oil and has converted beautiful coastlines into nightmarish, polluted death traps for wildlife. Tourists are kept away, local industry has suffered, towns are beginning to feel the economic crunch, on top of already fragile finances. Dead fish, sharks and dolphins are washing ashore, while crabs, turtles and birds are being found soaked in oil as the slick invades into Louisiana’s wetlands. South of New Orleans, globs of oil have shut down public beaches. The spill is now impacting about 250 km of coastline. It is feared that the spreading oil slicks will catch the ocean current to the Florida Keys and up to the eastern seaboard.
The disaster illustrates highlights several home truths about our society and our present mindset:
First, our lifestyle is making demands on the environment that it cannot meet. The more we have the more we want and the more we despoil our earth in order to maintain a lifestyle that has extinction written all over it.
Second, multinational companies are motivated by greed and have a modus operandi set to increasing their profits and maximising the efficiency of their business. They have lost all sense of morality and have no ethics, allowing them to carry on their business in ways that bypass regulations and laws, and blatantly concentrate all their efforts on finding new loopholes to beat the system.
Third, our politicians are becoming increasingly corrupt, easily bribed and more and more involved in the nefarious deeds of big business, aiding and abetting the offenders.
Fourth, we as a population, as a society are becoming more apathetic and easily distracted by entertainment, material possessions, creature comforts and superficial values.
Fifth, those among us who still see the errors of our ways and cry out against the insanity around us have our voices drowned out by the multitude.
Can such a civilisation survive?
a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons that is present in certain rock strata and can be extracted and refined to produce fuels including gasoline, kerosene, and diesel oil; oil.
late Middle English: From medieval Latin, from Latin petra
‘rock’ (from Greek) + Latin oleum