Americans are feeling helpless and frustrated over the current Gulf oil spill disaster, and when we feel helpless, we get angry and look for someone to blame. We need to look deeper and learn important long-term lessons from this catastrophe.
Were mistakes made and shortcuts taken by BP and its partners? Yes. Are mistakes made and shortcuts taken throughout the oil industry, and all industry every day? You bet! Not through villainy, but through human nature, the profit motive, and human fallibility. Was lack of governmental oversight also an issue? Of course! The undue influence of big oil and big business in general has been a way of life for the American government for at least thirty years. But, if anything, that influence has decreased a little under the current administration, so President Obama is certainly not a villain in this crisis either.
The attack on President Obama by the extreme right, the long-term supporters of big oil and the collusion of government and big business, is opportunistic and misdirected. By nature, President Obama is a supporter of alternative energy and the environment. People hate feeling helpless and somehow want to believe that our government has some technology that can help stop the oil spill, but we don't — unless we want the military to drop a really big bomb down there and make the spill much worse.
Let's point the finger where it is deserved, at ourselves. We, the American people, encouraged our government to support deep ocean oil drilling, knowing the risks. We, the American people, valued our desire for cheap gasoline far above our respect for nature and for leaving our grandchildren a world that is still livable.
The question is not whether continued deep sea drilling will cause environmental disasters, but how many spills will happen and how catastrophic they will be. Nature is more powerful than humans, and always will be. Our forefathers knew that, and respected the power of nature. Our generation has come to believe that we have mastery over nature, but we never will. We will destroy humanity if we don't relearn respect for our environment.
A comparison of the current oil spill to the 1979 Three Mile Island incident is telling, and ironic. There were no deaths, injuries, or damage to the environment due to the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, yet the emerging nuclear power capability of the United States was virtually halted. The gulf oil spill disaster has cost lives and spread ocean life-killing oil both on the surface and in the deep ocean from Texas to the Florida Keys, yet there are still voices supporting continued deep ocean drilling. What are we thinking?
Let's point the finger at ourselves, the real decision makers, the American voters. We get to choose whether we want more deep ocean oil drilling, or clean nuclear, solar, and alternative energy.
We get to choose what kind of planet our grandchildren will inherit.