Friday, June 11, 2010

The oil mess...

Sorry, I couldn’t get away from it, and I feel like I would be doing a disservice to the issue had I not mentioned it at least once in this blog. It is a shame to see what has, is, and will continue to happen in the Gulf of Mexico surrounding the oil spill. It’s a shame it happened, it’s a shame it’s the largest ever, and it’s a shame it’s going to do so much damage ecologically and economically.

It’s a shame, but I guess that’s a risk of the world’s dependency on oil. Unfortunately, there’s little ways to get away from this dependency. I’m sure no one would have a problem if we simply stopped using oil so long as a viable alternative for the masses was available at the drop of a hat… and yes, that literally – a drop of a hat.

While we have high, although expected and reasonable, hopes of transitioning from oil to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel source, there is no way to turn a switch and change overnight. It is going to take a long, long time to transition from oil and onto something else that is viable for the masses. It’s not simple, and I think everyone knows that.

What should have been done was continue the research that started in the 70’s during the oil crisis. Unfortunately, that spike in interest of changing to alternative fuels was primarily caused by the oil shortage and rising fuel prices. Once the oil supplies returned to normal levels and prices dropped, declining interest in finding alternative fuel sources, along with lobbying from industry, resulted in the topic subsiding. Yes, research continued, but the US government made the mistake of giving in to big oil and big business, opting to not continue the issue in any strong, serious fashion. Had the US government pushed for a true revolution away from oil, we wouldn’t be in the same position we are today.

Fast-forward 30 years or so and here we are, with new interest in alternative fuel sources, but for mostly different reasons. Sure, the price of oil and gasoline has increased to points where we really want to move away from oil because it hurts our wallets, but on top of that is continued instability in the Middle East, concerns about the oil reserve levels worldwide, global warming (aka climate change), and now, sadly, what is turning out to be the worst oil spill in history.

I would like to think that this last circumstance is the proverbial cherry-on-top of the grand-issue, and atop the interest that has been building for years and years… not so much a delicious I-want-to-eat-you cherry, but a this-is-too-much-and-I-can’t-eat-anymore cherry, and hopefully also the “last straw on the camel’s back” (that poor, poor camel is always getting its back broken).

There is no doubt that Mother Earth will make everything right – it’s just a matter of when and for how long we will have to deal with the consequence of our actions and dependencies.

*Subtle note: I am in no way an environmentalist, activist, an anti-oiler, or an anti-anything that has to do with big business. What frustrates me the most in this situation is the lack of foresight on the part of business and on the part of the US government. I feel that even I, little ol’ MBA no-oil-experience me, have a more firm grasp on the processes and procedures that should have taken place before drilling commenced and after the accident occurred, than those within the walls of BP and our government.

Why has there been little to no containment of the spill? Why was there no tested-and-proven method to quickly cap the leaking well? How is it that our government, for many administrations, has allowed drilling in such depths without failsafe operations in place? Or at the very least, how could the government have granted drilling permits without proof of a tested and known method to cap a leaking well soon after an accident like this occurred?



  1. At this point I wish Mother Earth would create a big sink hole under BP headquarters and use that to plug up the hole.