Thursday, June 17, 2010

On the Gulf oil spew

Unbelievable, actually.

I have all kinds of thoughts in my head about what this gigantic petroleum fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico might signify. Some of these thoughts, when I carry the logic through, end up getting to a positive place; other thoughts take me down into the murky, oily depths of despair.

Two caveats before we get to the matter:

1) I have the privilege of being very far away from the Gulf of Mexico and not being immediately and directly impacted by this mess.

2) I generally feel wholly inadequate, as an historian, when trying to figure out what might happen in the future (I have quite enough of a challenge explaining the past clearly, concisely, and accurately). I am able to discern some patterns in history, but, in terms of trying to predict the future, I'm right up there with Nostradamus and the majority of economists who didn't see the housing bubble as the fiction it was.

Ok, then . . .

I couldn't help but have highly cynical thoughts when I listened to this audio clip from Representative Joe Barton. This Texas legislator is astoundingly asinine. Really, how much of a petroleum industry shill must he be to take up the standard of a criminal oil company and shed such logically and morally dessicated tears? I couldn't listen to this nonsense from Lord Tebbit and London mayor Boris Johnson the other day without thinking the same thing. Every day that this gusher continues sheds increasingly more light on how criminally inept BP is, and for anyone to take their side seems to me to be an example of the BP puppet masters pulling their strings.[1] (Could also be the standard first stirrings of the reaction of supporters of laissez-faire capitalism looking into the near future and recoiling in fear at the possibility that a marginally less-inept regulatory framework may well be coming their way; these shills may be the canaries in the coal mine, in this sense.)

One of my positive thoughts is precisely that this catastrophe could be the beginning of the dawning of an understanding among our species that we must move away from externalized costs . . . and petroleum as a source of energy isn't sustainable in any way without externalizing most of the costs. I'm not humming the song "Age of Aquarius" here, nor do I believe the catastrophic things some of the 2012ers believe, but continued reliance on petroleum for energy and so many other things cannot possibly be sustainable. Maybe a critical mass of our species will learn this from this ridiculous Gulf catastrophe and actually make the necessary changes? Imagine.

Seeing footage of this mess makes me sick to my stomach. Watching conservative apologists for corporate misdeeds also makes me sick to my stomach.

Yes, of course, we all share a bit of the blame for this catastrophe, as we drive our cars, type on our keyboards, eat yogurt from our plastic containers, etc. However, I am not -- and most of the people with whom I associate are not -- among the deluded masses who support politicians, puerile pundits, puppets, and policies that strive to keep us enslaved to our petroleum-as-energy masters. I vote for politicians, advocate for policies, and support with my consumer dollars those who are taking larger and smaller steps away from the petroleum enslavement paradigm.

Regardless of my or other bloggers' musings, this event will have strong reverberations on the environment, economy, policy, and politics that we can't possibly fathom yet.

[1] I'm not pretending here that BP is unique among oil companies, by any means, but BP is the current poster child for what cannot be anything but utter frakkin' corruption within the entire system.



  1. Here's an example of the puppy-dog-like attention span of the mainstream U.S. media in the case of both the Exxon Valdez and the BP Horizon oil fiascoes.

  2. H-Energy Roundtables: The Gulf of Mexico Disaster, Posted to H-Energy on June 27, 2010. "Four energy historians comment on the Deepwater Horizon blowout."