Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Cost Of Business

The failure of safety precautions in the Gulf Of Mexico has put tourism along the Gulf Coast of four states at risk, and has also put at risk recent proposals to expand drilling for oil off those very same coasts. Frankly the spill doesn't look at all good, as it goes on, day after day spilling crude into the saltwater, and spewing black smoke into the sky: The spill came as though designed to test the mettle of supporters of expanded drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico, which supporters include President Obama. And now the support for drilling is crumbling, yet the fact is that we still need oil because we cannot face the prospect of living with less. As the US continues to devour oil the Peak Oil Theory is gaining ground, suggesting an imminent end to the era of cheap oil and the response to this dichotomy was to increase the amount of drilling. That being the case the need for expanded drilling is gaining in urgency as alternatives to oil have barely been explored yet, and certainly no alternative energy policy has been coherently put on the table by anyone.

What this spill reminds me, is that there are hidden, or at least not so obvious costs of doing business. It's all very well to oppose drilling, indeed it's easy to take the high ground and oppose drilling. Until you contemplate your alternatives in an oil powered world. The harsh reality is that without oil and all it's attendant pollution our current lifestyle is dead in the water and we might all as well get used to the fact that drilling for convenient, cheap energy creates casualties. Perhaps we should increase the cost of gasoline to help cover these oil drilling expenses? Imagine the howls of protest! Yet no one much wants to acknowledge the need for some kind of rational cost estimate of the impact of oil drilling on our world. Ask yourself how much a gallon of gasoline is worth as the estuaries, bird habitat and fishing grounds of Louisiana get glopped up with impenetrable oil.

How much is a clean Gulf Coast beach worth to you? Would you pay ten cents a gallon more to help preserve our coastlines? Would a surtax help you acknowledge this particular hidden cost of doing business? Peak Oil does not allow us to bury our heads in the sand anymore. Drilling for oil is costly and dangerous and puts what we know and love at risk. What's that truly worth? Driving less/ driving smaller cars? using electric trains? Going nuclear? Is any change at all even possible?

3 comments:

Danette said...

The headlines tonight are that the oil IS going to spread with the gulf stream and eventually effect east Florida. There is no way that can happen without devastating the Keys.

I am sorry. (my kids used to ask me why I was sorry when I didn't do anything-- but the truth is we all did something when we did nothing but consume without regard to the consequences)

I grieve for all of us that we will so affect some of the most beautiful places on our continent-- just for oil. just to have cheap energy.

Bryce said...

Sorry, the cost of business is the result of greed. We in North American have too much at a low price by dint of our need to survive, our way.
Drilling in a southern bay simply
increases te possibility of a mshap.

gainesville365 said...

I was hoping that you'd post about this mess and you have. Thank you.