Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

BP Disaster Highlights Urgent Need for Renewable Energy

One year later, Boston.com has an excellent photo essay exploring the lingering devastation of the tragic BP disaster:

What is the cost of spilling almost five million barrels of oil into the ocean? How do you measure that cost? In GDP reduction? In lives affected? In environmental impact? And how do you measure the cost when long-term effects are impossible to calculate yet, and when a significant portion of the spilled oil is still unaccounted for? One year since the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded, killing 11 workers, there are measurable effects, and many more unknowns.

The stirring collection of photos includes several then-and-now pictures, comparing conditions in the immediate aftermath of the spill to those of today:

May 22, 2010

April 8, 2011

One of the first things one notices about the photos above is the dreary lack of color resulting from the erosion of the shore and the mass destruction of the marsh grasses and mangrove trees.  The once thriving marshland of the fragile coastal ecosystem has been utterly devastated by the spill and the myriad chemical dispersants released afterwards.  Dead dolphins and sea turtles continue to wash up on the shores of the Gulf coast, and the remnants of oil are still to be found virtually everywhere.

Don’t let the apparent lack of oil in the latter photo fool you:  there is still plenty of oil throughout the Gulf.  Fishermen and shrimpers continue to pull up nets filled with oil, and animals and sea creatures of all kind are still routinely seen covered in the stuff.  Although any particular stretch of land may, at first glance, appear to be free of oil, it is often lurking just beneath the surface, waiting for the slightest touch or step to disturb it.  And the health effects are continuing to mount for those who live in the region, and will undoubtedly continue to do so for years to come.

The BP disaster is far from over, even if the corporate media fails to cover its lingering destruction.  As discussed at great length here, the MSM exists mainly as a tool to maintain the status quo, and therefore has absolutely no interest in covering stories which challenge the corporatocracy or provide any sort of educational service to the largely ignorant masses.

Just think for a moment what accurate coverage of the BP disaster would entail.  It would have to be made known just how reckless BP and other energy giants have been in their pursuit of oil at all costs.  The government’s complicity in allowing them to operate in utter disregard of basic safety protocols would have to be made public, as well as the government’s inability – or unwillingness – to enforce health precautions during the trecherous cleanup period. BP unleashed thousands upon thousands of gallons of toxic chemical dispersants into the Gulf, and absolutely no one has any idea what the long-term consequences will be.

But the implications are even more profound, because the most crucial issue at the core of all of this is our enduring addiction to oil and other toxic fossil fuels.  Our endless military campaigns throughout the Middle East are but one obvious manifestation of this addiction; the drilling of more and more dangerous oil wells in the Gulf is another, and indicates just how destructive this addiction has become.

We need to ween ourselves off the oil, folks, because it is killing us in more ways than we can imagine.  Ordinary people realize innately that we can’t remain hooked on fossil fuels indefinitely:  even if one disbelieves the reality of climate change, it is common sense that fossil fuels are not in infinite supply.  One day – probably sooner than most people realize – we will run out altogether.  Long before that day comes the more easily accessibly supplies will run dry, and the environmental destruction wrought by attempting to harvest these more and more remote reserves will increase drastically, likely dwarfing even the as now unprecedented BP catastrophe.

The time for the Green Revolution has long since arrived, and it is our obligation as conscientious citizens to make decisions that work towards that end.   If spent a fraction of our military budget on research and development of renewable energy, we could likely be almost entirely off oil within a decade.  The solution is there, waiting; we merely lack the motivation to sieze it.

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6 responses to “BP Disaster Highlights Urgent Need for Renewable Energy

  1. hoboduke April 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Keeping coal, and oil, and natural gas in the earth is an interesting alternative to productive use of otherwise useless resources. It will be a great source of amusement 100 years from now that the Luddites who abhor the use of carbon based energy will be held as lunatics that ignored using the most obvious and economical resources. So let’s just keep all that oil underground because???
    By the way are you aware that the laxity and sloth of the current administration is evident in the wildfires created by wind turbine farms and solar farms? Washington has shut down new wind farm because of forest fires caused by electrical fires form overheating cables in wilderness hilltops. Desert solar farms are also burning up wires, besides being sand blasted into oblivion. Otherwise, the renewable energy fairy tale sounds good.

  2. Andrew April 26, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Did you even read the entire post? The most easily accessed fossil fuels have already been – or will soon be – harvested. It is growing increasingly difficult and treacherous to extract them, and the cost in both environmental and economic terms will continue to skyrocket. Very soon it will be much less cost-effective to utilize these fuels than to develop renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

    On top of these concerns, of course, is that of climate change. Whether or not you believe in it (and I know you don’t), the scientists who actually study such things have been in agreement for decades about the severe dangers we face should we remain hooked on fossil fuels.

    And could you please provide some sources for these alleged dangers of renewable energy?

  3. hoboduke April 26, 2011 at 7:12 am

    read your post. My comment is to point out the facts which are obvious, that there are significant reserves. Even if the reserves were limited, why treat them as precious objects to be preserved? We are developing alternative energy, so use the antiquated carbon resources and be done with it. We have to alert the scientists that the Gulf of Mexico, the folks in Alaska that there is no oil underground! It seems the scientific data on the reserves are wrong, thanks for covering the whole territory!

    • Andrew April 26, 2011 at 7:37 am

      We may disagree as to what constitutes “significant.” 10 years’ worth? 20? 50? The fossil fuels will run out at some point. Why postpone the transition to renewable energy until the last possible moment, particularly when the consequences associated with doing so are continuing to mount?

      Yes, we could probably feed our fossil fuel addiction for another 50 years. Is it a smart or even practical thing to do? Absolutely not. You accuse me of being a Luddite, but why are you so resistant to the new technology associated with renewable energy sources? We should be looking towards the future, not clinging to antiquated, inefficient ways.

  4. hoboduke April 26, 2011 at 7:57 am

    The road map to our glorious future is sadly lacking significant details. Love the blind belief in green energy, do you know the new green energy of wind turbine farms are creating forest fires in Washington state? They shut down brand new turbine farms as a hazard. The fragile desert ecosystem is being decimated by miles of solar panels that are also creating electrical fires. It is obvious “green energy” is treated as a religion, not as science. Nobody cares to deal with these facts of “green energy”.

    • Andrew April 27, 2011 at 1:00 am

      Again, you fail to cite a source for these alleged dangers of wind and solar power. And even if such instances have occurred, they are hardly indicative of an inherent danger or flaw in renewable energy. If wind turbines have created forest fires, we could surely find a way to prevent it from happening again. If solar panels are destroying ecosystems, we could easily find a way to remedy that. It should also be pointed out that these technologies are still very much in their infancy, and as more research money is funneled in, they will become more and more feasible.

      A belief in the practicality of green energy is hardly a religion; it’s basic common sense. We have unlimited solar, wind, wave and geothermal energy, but only a limited supply of coal, oil and natural gas. If one believes that humans will exist for more than the next century, it is obvious that a switch to renewable energy is inevitable. We should begin preparing for that transition today, rather than wait for things to become much more urgent.

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