Saturday, May 01, 2010

The beast has been released

Just when you thought 1,600 ducks was horrible enough, the black ooze we rely on for everything shows us just how much grosser it can leave its mark on our world.

There is a point in every civilizations history that can usually be isolated and pinpointed as the turning point or the moment when everything began to fall apart.

The gulf coast oil spill may be it. This has potential to disrupt everything.

The reason? No one seems to have any idea what to do. The best people have come up with is either building a rig that will attempt to drill a second well that will plug the first well, which could take up to two months or more, or burning the oil, a temporary and probably not very effective solution at best.

BP, The company that operated the rig which exploded on April 20th and sank two days later, has been quoted as saying "We are literally trying new things here."

Meanwhile, companies trying to sell people on the ideas of more oil pipelines were recently saying that things had changed since the days of the Exxon-Valdez.

Obviously they were mistaken.

So now we have a well that is essentially on a runaway flow. It's the oil equivalent of a nuclear meltdown. So far over 1.5 million barrels of oil have leaked (in eight days) and estimates on how fast the oil is leaking are ranging from 5,000 barrels a day to over 20,000 barrels a day. The slick now covers an area of nearly 4,000 square kilometres.

Ecologists are worried that the steady stream of oil could bury the long grasses that hold the marshlands of Louisiana together, long enough to kill the root system. The soil would wash out within the year if that happened.

The swamps that gave birth to the blues could be screwed.

Not only this, coral reefs all along the southeast coast could be buried in the muck. The oil would be carried along the currents around the world - a toxic soup that will linger for decades.

How do you stop an oil well that's five thousand feet below the surface that's literally pumping oil without after overwhelming all the fail-safes that were in place to prevent something like this?

Any of the plans in place will take all summer to fully implement, presuming they work. If the oil is leaking at a rate of 20,000 barrels a day, that means that between April 22nd and, let's say July 1st, that's 69 days. 69 x 20,000 is 1.38 million barrels of oil.

So, aside from increased rates of cancer, massive crashes of fish stocks and the collapse of the industries that rely on those stocks, what does this bode for the future of our civilization of oil junkies?

Obama and his administration are racing to show that his office is hard at work on fixing the problem, trying to appear the opposite of his predecessor. Obama knows that this will make or break his presidency.

The amount of political backlash that could come from towards the oil industry could be off the charts. Obama, previously very pro-offshore oil drilling, will have no choice but to reel in that particular gong-show. At the cost of the Louisiana coastline, we may save the Alaskan-BC coastline.

But if this disaster is as bad as it has the potential to be (and that's pretty fucking awful, if not worse) it may have a silver lining in affecting the global psyche. A complete dousing in the cancerous black ooze may be what civilization needs to wake up and cease the mindless economic growth that has brought us here today, and start working towards a society that's more in harmony with nature.

Some time back I read an article discussing western nations policies towards population growth. Population growth in the west has stabilized around 1-1.5 children per houshold. Given then the current population is believed to be over 6 billion and is expected to be 9 billion by 2050, this would be a good thing. But alas, economists are warning governments that they will need to expand their populations to compete economically with rising nations with surging populations.

This begs the question, how much of our "free" society is engineered? It's a scary thought to think that your existence is predetermined by economists looking to expand profitability, but that may be how it is.

You and me were made to get someone rich, merely parts in this supermassive moneymaking machine known as western civilization - a self consuming beast that to date has met no rival.

Until now, perhaps. Perhaps the fallout of this oilspill will be the old beast will finally choke on it's vomit, and a new green beast will emerge - equally worthy of criticism for sure, but perhaps one that's dream is health and well being, instead of riches and empire.

One can only hope, anyway.

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