NASA image of the Gulf of Mexico oil slick off the Mississippi delta, gathered on 24th May.
(This image is from the NASA Goddard photo and video photostream at Flickr. Please visit to see the image at full size and full resolution).
I do hope President Obama has now stopped referring to BP as ‘British Petroleum’? We have become a little sensitive about this over on this side of The Pond. If not, can someone please remind him that British Petroleum merged with American company Amoco in 1998. The rig in question was leased from Transocean (a predominantly Swiss-owned company, who allegedly have a less than stellar safety record) and the workers on the rig were mostly Americans who presumably worked to American standards and followed American law.
Let’s stop the finger-pointing. We’re all to blame for this and I do mean all. It is our collective need for this precious resource that has led to this. And precious it is. Those of us around, awake and actually paying attention in the 1970s clearly remember being told that ‘oil reserves will run out before the end of the century’. So what did we do? Invest heavily in alternative forms of energy? Certainly not that I’ve witnessed. It is only on the back of the recent evangelical Johnny-Come-Lately environmental bandwagon that we, and therefore our governments, have begun to look seriously at this and other environmental issues.
As BP desperately try to cap the well and do what they can with a clean up operation, I just wonder why it was that no one had a plan for this worst case scenario. In my imaginary Utopian world, to be truly environmentally attuned you need to think the unthinkable and plan ahead. Again, we can’t let BP stand alone in the stocks however, as no other company, with similar deep drilling rigs has come forward with the technology they designed to deal with just such a nightmare scenario.
So, I’m letting BP off the hook to some extent here and spreading the blame to us all and I’m hoping that this will make us reassess our dependance on this ‘black gold’. (Although being a realist, I sadly somehow doubt that will happen).
What I can’t forgive are the ill-advised words of BP’s Chief Executive. When under pressure we all say and do stupid things but this must rank as one of the stupidest things I’ve heard in a long, long time:
“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
~ Tony Heyward, Chief Executive, BP, 14 May 2010
Tell that to the birds, fish and other wildlife now coated and suffocating in oil and to all those who will lose their livelihood from this.
Wildlife images shown here are from National Geographic