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Oil Drilling Moratorium: Sense vs Cents

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Since the dawn of civilization, the debate over whether mankind is inherently good or evil has raged. While we see amazing acts of kindness and martyrdom around the world, the selfish outrage that has ensued because of the recent federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling clearly proves otherwise.

Shortly after the explosion on a British Petroleum oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that caused the death of 11 people and led to the beginning of what continues to be an endless oil spill, President Obama halted all offshore drilling operations. He put this temporary stoppage in place until investigators could figure out exactly what went wrong in the tragic accident and to give scientists and engineers time to come up with preventative measures to stop any future toxic spews if this scenario should repeat itself.

Sounds logical.

Yet, despite the common sense policy, many fellow Americans are calling it outrageous, a knee-jerk reaction, and a blatant over-exaggeration. And they are doing so all because they just found out that the safe federal maneuver may cost them a few extra pennies per gallon at the pump.

The protesters cite the rare possibility of such a catastrophic event from happening again. They cite the extremely low percentage of oil spills versus the number of oil rigs in operation off our coastal shores. Despite the fact that their bellows are accurate, they fail to comprehend that even though the ratio may be one oil spill in the last 1,000 oil rigs erected, it is one too many.

Near 25,000 gallons of oil continue to gush out of the leaky pipe on a daily basis. Although BP is now capturing some of the leaking sludge, the biggest oil spill in US history continues to grow at an alarming rate. Animals of the Gulf Coast waters are starting to wash up dead on southern beaches. Endangered species of the area are now under more threat of going extinct.

And yet, we Americans don't seem to care. We focus our displeasure not on this eco-disaster, but on the fact that it and the governmental reaction in its aftermath are going to cost us a little more money to fill up our huge SUVs.

Most just naturally believe the oil slick will successfully get cleaned up (assuming we actually stop it one day) and that Mother Nature will wash the noxious slick off its back and rebound to its original vital and healthy state. Maybe this mentality is because it's not occurring in our backyard. Maybe it's because we don't actually see the blackened-tar dead bodies of dolphins and pelicans lying next to our kid's sand castle.

For whatever reason, mankind thinks about the minor hit to its wallet rather than the major blow to the environment it lives in. In doing so, mankind is thinking about today's small onus to its daily struggle rather than its long-term survival.

When it comes to environmental protection, there has always been a reluctance by society to take action. Many citizens and politicians, especially in tough economic times, don't think about what may or may not affect us tomorrow – they think about the here and now. And that thought process always and inevitably comes back to one thing: money.

Jobs, investing, and development don't necessarily go hand-in-hand with the pro-environmental movement, although recently many are trying to change that through the push for renewable energy sources.

Selfishness is the act of putting our own needs ahead of the needs and desires of others. In a nut shell, it is the equivalent of people voicing their concern over a federal oil drilling moratorium simply because they want a few extra green dollars in their pockets rather than ensuring there is a healthy, green planet here for our kids and grandkids to enjoy. (Another Happy Meal for your child or an investment in his or her future?)

We are human and, whether we like it or not, we run the gamut of dramatic emotions and feelings – be it happiness, sadness, kindness, guilt, greed, or selfishness. It's just the way it is. So, the debate on whether mankind is inherently good or evil will futilely rage on well into the future.

That is if there is a planet still here to allow it.

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About BizarroGuy

  • louisianalady

    The outrage about Obama’s moratorium is soooooo not about our gas costing a little more. It’s about him shutting down a whole industry that supports a product that will be purchased whether it is produced here in the states or from other countries. So don’t go on about saving the environment unless you are not using anything at all that has been made from petroleum byproducts or produced with any type of petroleum use. Your computer could not have been made without petroleum. Drilling will continue around the world whether it’s here or elsewhere. So you want me to believe that you are a true environmentalist and yet you don’t care if they drill elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be better to drill off of the United States coast with more control over the safety factors? People die in plane crashes and car crashes, yet we don’t stop everyone from driving or flying. So you would rather shut down an industry that has been successfully operating all of these years instead of just working to improve the safety measures they are taking. AND by the way, it is our government who was supposed to be paying attention to how safe the rig was operating. (Ever heard of MMS???)

  • LAguy

    i live in southeast Louisiana and i have seen the oil on our few beaches and in our vast wetlands. It is a very terrible thing to happen to a state that relies so much on the seafood industry. On the other hand, we equally rely on the oil industry. This stop on the drilling in the gulf will kill our economy which is already hurting due to the effects of the oil spill on our seafood industry. Being born and raised in southeast Louisiana, I know more than most that no one loves and respects the outdoors and nature as much as us Louisianaians, Why do you think its called sportsman’s paradise. having said that we need all that we can get at this delicate time in our economy and environment. Oil rigs and fishing go hand and hand if they are monitored and regulated correctly. As much as we don’t want to admit it we use oil products from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed and sometimes even when we are sleeping. Yes, we need to change, but it is not going to happen over night.
    So, until then we need the the oil and the seafood and they can work together if greed and politics would stay out of the way.

  • Cannonshop

    I just imagine how the Progressives might’ve handled the Hoover Dam if they had the same attitudes then that they do now-it would never have been built. Nor the Panama Canal, nor would the TVA have gotten off the drawing boards.

    Yes, it’s a disaster-you don’t fix disasters by hiding under the blankets and pretending it will go away. Fact is, LAguy’s got it dead right-instead of just one part of an economy going down for a short period, this moratorium and the “Thinking” (FEELING) behind it is going to kill the economy of an entire REGION-the damage is done, and it ain’t going to be un-done any time soon, and hiding under the blankets chanting green protest songs isn’t going to fix any of it.

  • Baronius

    “even though the ratio may be one oil spill in the last 1,000 oil rigs erected, it is one too many”

    This is going to sound like the most heartless thing you’ve ever heard, but no, it’s not one too many. You can’t make something perfect. There’s a tradeoff between cost and safety with every product. But not just cost. There’s a tradeoff between time and safety, too.

    Give me $20 trillion and I’ll build a drilling platform that will fail 1/2000 times. Give me $60 trillion, and I’ll make it only fail 1/3000 times, but I’ll never be able to make it 0% failure. Maybe if you give me $60 trillion and 150 years, I can get it down to 1/4000 times. That is practically a guarantee that drilling will fail.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What’s wrong with these calculations is the posited equivalence between economic benefit and social/human/ecological costs.

    Furthermore, while some of the social costs may be conveniently ignored when it comes to great many products, it’s a height of hyperbole to couch this discussion in general terms, speaking of “there [being] a tradeoff between cost and safety with every product,” as though this man-made disaster did not merit serious discussion on its own terms.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s a kind of fallacy whereby the positing of a “general rule” accommodates all exceptions to the rule – so much so, in fact, that no exception, however grave, can possibly invalidate that rule.

  • Baronius

    Roger – What? Did you read my comment?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sorry, Baronius, for you experiencing your usual mental block. I thought you were good at abstract thinking. Apparently, I’ve made a mistake.

    And no, don’t ask me to explain it again.

  • Baronius

    Roger, you don’t have to explain your comment #5. It’s easy for a reader to tell whether or not it’s a good point. It’s your comment #6 that I don’t understand. I can’t even guess what it’s referring to.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #6, Baronius, is simply the distillation of the argument in #5.

  • Baronius

    Whatev.

    So drop money from the equation. Consider the tradeoff between the social costs of drilling and the social costs of not drilling.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Here is the breakdown:

    1) General rule: every economic benefit entails a certain risk which, when materialized, a social cost.

    2) Since the rule is a general one, no kind of exception can possibly invalidate it.

    Well, my argument is that it is fallacy to think exceptions can’t possibly invalidate an apriori rule.

    To apply this thinking to the example at hand, the argument is that the risks involved in deep sea drilling, however infinitesimal, are just too prohibitive to justify whatever economic benefits might accrue threfrom.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The conclusion: the apriori “rule” should not be regarded as inviolable but applied on a case by case basis.

  • Cannonshop

    Roger, display for the class one economic benefit that does not invoke a potential social cost (as defined in Baronius’ explanations above.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com roger nowosielski

    You’ve just conveniently bypassed the entire argument, Cannon.

    Good try, though.

  • Cannonshop

    Then, Roger, define the social benefits of plunging the already shaky economic structure of the gulf coast region (already harmed by the actual event) further into poverty, unemployment and the attendant social ills that come with them, out of fear, and how is increasing the load on the REST of the country as a direct result of spiking unemployment and welfare statistics (already too high in that area) going to result in general social practices that benefit society?

    People become “Environmentally conscious” when they have the economic slack to do so (i.e. when they HAVE money.)

    Not when their economy locally has been killed by Federal Fiat driven by Green Panic.

  • Ruvy

    I see that none of you are thinking this all through. No great surprise. I hadn’t thought it all through either.

    But with some thought and a bit of research, this oil spill looks a lot more scary than just the incompetence of British oil men or the laziness of federal officials blowing off a problem.

    And not drilling for oil is not the solution. It’s way too late for a drilling moratorium.

    First of all, if the chemicals in the water, the various forms of petroleum, and the chemical being used to disperse it presently continue to accrue in the Gulf, there will be no seafood industry there for the appreciable future. Nor will there be any fishing for tuna and the like off the Keys. When you consider how much Red Lobster and other chains like it depend on the Gulf for relatively cheap seafood, that is the end of that chain – and its sisters.

    Then there are the possibilities of the slick reaching land. When it does, the chemicals in the water will interact with those in the air. There is the possibility of a change in quality in the air being breathed, and an almost certain likelihood of the poisoning of the water near the coast, if not further inland.

    Then there is the possibility of these poisons being driven on the land through tropical storms that will pick up petroleum and other poisons on the water and drop it as rain. Fun stuff, guys! Poison rain! I saw a science fiction movie about that once years ago, and it wasn’t fun. Life has a nasty way of imitating art.

    You see, Lennon reading a book of Marx – or Hegel, or Foucault, or all the other idiots whose names get thrown around by armchair theorists who sip bourbon while predicting revolution – just don’t get to deal with the real dangers of what seems to be happening in the Gulf of Mexico.

    I do hope I’m wrong. I really do. But I have the bad feeling that I’m not too far off the mark.

  • John Wilson

    Looks like we gambled away the welfare and livelihoods of a few thousand people in the Gulf region for the benefit of a few roughnecks and remote oil company owners. Seems foolish, even before the oil spill. Why keep doing it?

    Because of free international markets about 3/4 of oil mined in the USA goes to foreigners: Chinese, Indians, etc., and the proportion increases every year, so it’s a loser as a resource. We don’t need it for ourselves because plenty of oil is available at competitive prices on world markets: I might point out that this is the way we’ve rigged things in our (USA) favor for the past 60 years, and that’s why inflation adjusted gas prices have been stable since the 50s.

    There’s simply no good reason to sacrifice the US environment and the jobs and businesses of small US businesses for minimally useful oil.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    This is an interesting news story: restricted access to members of the press.

    Today, when Diane Rehm questioned the Coast Guard Admiral, Thad Allen – the top government honcho supervising the operations – he claimed total ignorance of the affair and vowed to make amends. One wonders.

    On a related development, English PM, Mr. Cameron, intends to communicate to Mr. Obama it’s about time to stop dumping on BP – too many pension funds are tied up with BP’s fortunes, as it clearly becomes of matter of national interests.

    This is an interesting development. It looks as though the cracks within the Western bloc begin to show.

  • Archie Ignacio

    There are loud complaints about the moratorium in oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

    As Oil executives testify about how safe their systems are in the Gulf, it seems to me nobody in these companies are stepping up to offer this so called solutions in place to stop the oil spill tragedy in the Gulf. This is the time to test those solutions in place. Why is the government not asking these companies to put forward these solutions. The oil spill problem is now everyones problem. Instead of talking about how this tragedy can not happen to other oil companies, it’s time to put this contingency plans to work and end the oil spill disaster. The american people will believe that YES there is really a solution in place if it is demonstrated. What better time it is to do it now. In the meantime thousands of barrel of oil in this spill are killing and destroying the environment while the oil leaders talk and assure the public how prepared they are if such disaster happens again. Let us FIX this one now and we will believe. President Obama, this is the question you should be asking the oil companies.

    The BP oil spill tragedy should be made as an example for all the oil companies involved in drilling oil offshore. If this happens to you what would you do. Can you stop it in a short time. It is great to have an effective spill prevention system but as we know now, humans are known to ERR every now and then and even the safe procedures FAIL occasionally. While it’s great to have a “Relief well” as a solution, millions of barrels of oil and gas killing life and destroying the environment make this solution extremely hard to swallow. When it comes to offshore oil drilling, shallow or deep water, Failure is not an option.

  • Chella

    It’s time for a change. LA everyone, I can gaurantee there are more jobs involved with our ocean being clean than infested. Also, I can gaurantee no one wants to die for a paycheck, nor does anyone want to murder for one either. Bottom line, there is not enough oil to last til the end of our childrens time. Our Earth is also falling apart and accidents like this only make matters worst. This is what survival is, accepting an end to an era and finding a different method to live and support your means. There are in fact computers that are solar powered. There are cars that are electric. Just because not everyone has one now doesn’t mean we should shut the door on the concept. Progression takes change. We’re smarter than this and we’re better than a dollar.

  • John Wilson

    The oil lease contract on Deepwater netted the USA a paltry $34million. For which we risked our entire gulf business community.

    The oil companies are 60% foreign owned. The oil market is a Free Market, so no particular output belongs to any country. Oil is fungible and the market is liquid.