In this day and age of enormous technological advancements, it is ironic that Mankind cannot find a simple solution to stop a very common problem that has plagued us since the early days of plumbing: a leak.
All day long on television, the radio, and the Internet, I see and hear Fortune 500 companies tout their products and services as the next big “breakthrough” in technology. We are creating new plastics, rubbers, glues, adhesives, foams, cements, poly-carbons, and other materials we can’t pronounce, all the time that instantly form a sealant to stop water and air flow. And the stock prices of many of the publicly-traded businesses that create these new components are soaring as the general public puts them to everyday use.
But, as thousands of gallons of crude oil continue to spew out into the waters of the Gulf, none of them apparently are good enough to do the one thing we want them to do: seal the leak.
And so, as top scientists and tech-savvy business geniuses around the world continue to debate over the best way to stop the dirty flow, thousands upon thousands of gallons continue to pour into the sea. Most reports indicate the amount at 210,000 gallons a day (some extrapolate this rate to be five times higher).
The Exxon Valdez oil spill was in total 10.8 million gallons. Since the British Petroleum explosion, which started the spewage, occurred on April 19th, we are rapidly approaching the day in which this spill will surpass what most call “the most devastating human-caused environmental disaster ever.”
All because there is a hole in a pipe. Frasier Crane’s line from Cheers comes to mind: “Can someone tell me why we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t put metal in a microwave?” While that is laughable, the situation in the Gulf is anything but.
What makes the matter worst is that I hear the mainstream media talk more about the impact on BP than I do what the impact will be on the environment. As the federal government expands the no-fishing zone up to 46,000 miles and as black-slimed bodies of dead dolphins wash up on shore, most folks seem to be more worried about the oil company bouncing back than they do the ecosystems of this massively affected region.
And the leak isn’t even plugged up yet. Dangerous, toxic crude oil continues to flow out into the water as the greatest minds of our time try to think of ways to simply seal the leak. We can only hope the technology advancements in environmental clean-up are more of a reality than the ones needed to stop a simple primitive plumbing problem.