Oil Spill Sanity Check
To listen to the reporting, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana is the end of the world as well know it. An invasion by the aliens from Independence Day would be less destructive. Environmental groups and opportunistic politicians are clamoring to shut down all off-shore oil drilling and leverage the issue into a broader move against carbon-based energy and for…well, the practical alternative is never really made clear to anyone. And the head of the Sierra Club held a press conference to condemn it as “America’s Chernobyl”.
Fortunately, truth falls far short of the propaganda fiction. Yes, the spill is an environmental disaster and yet another economic hardship for the Gulf Coast. But in the longer view, it pales in comparison to oil pollution from natural sources that happens every year:
Offshore drilling is still a relatively safe practice considering crude oil seeping naturally from the ocean floor puts 47 million gallons into U.S. waters annually, and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded has leaked about 3 million gallons.
So the demands from extreme environmentalists that we reject the fruits of the industrial revolution and revert to an agrarian, no-carbon lifestyle are yet again the result more of panic and an immature romanticism than of considered policy. Sure, we should do everything possible to cap this well, investigate the causes, take action to limit the possibility of recurrence, and definitely make sure that BP pays the whole bill. But let’s not let the environmental extremists turn this into actually the end of the world as we know it.
The author welcomes serious debate by email. Accusations that the author hates the planet will be printed 100,000 times using lead-based ink and disposed in a leaky landfill.