Ambient Depression and the Oil Spill

My goal in most everything I write is to ensure that the intelligentsia never takes its collective self or its pet issues too seriously.

However, despite ridiculously named well-plugging plans and a 24-hour parade of inane and misguided media coverage, I can’t think of anything funny about the explosion of Deepwater Horizon or its oozing umbra of tar-ball damnation. Seriously.

This just sucks.

Instead, I’ve leaned on the golden crutch of the lazy blogger, the Top Ten List, to help funnel some of my ambient depression about the tragedy from me to you. To demonstrate the extent of said depression, I’ve only listed five items.

Why this catastrophic political, environmental, and economic disaster really bums me out:

  1. It’s no one’s fault. It’s an accident. We as humans need to blame someone. Sure, many involved parties could have done things differently/better at various points along the way, but no one wanted this to happen. I’d feel better if I could find one sneering villain with a waxed moustache.
  2. The economic recovery (which wasn’t really happening, by the way) is further delayed. Check your mutual fund holdings in your 401k. You’re probably a BP shareholder. That stock ain’t going up anytime soon, and neither are the shares of other Gulf-exposed companies.
  3. There’s obviously a lot of oil down there, oil that could be in Americans’ gas tanks rather than in the teeth of innocent sea creatures or between the toes of Alabama’s beach-going children. Unfortunately, the impending wave of over-regulation of deepwater drilling will keep that oil down there and gas prices and global tensions could creep higher as a result. Repeat Bummer #2.
  4. Hypocrisy reigns. I love some good hypocrisy; you have to embrace it, as it’s so tightly woven into the fabric of our lives. But I’ll put it as succinctly as I can: If you don’t like this oil spill, stop demanding oil. Drive less, turn down your air conditioner, don’t buy bottled water, fly less, don’t wear makeup, etc. Oil companies aren’t bad guys, any less than the jelly-spined politicians and regulators who accept payola to make risky drilling less expensive for those companies, whose management teams reduce costs to appease and attract shareholders: that’s you.
  5. As always, more lawyers will get rich from others’ suffering. Damn lawyers. I should’ve gone to law school.

In all sincerity, I just hope the clean-up efforts are effective and cooler heads prevail. A lot less oil spilled off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, and your feet still get black when you swim there. The good people at the Four Seasons in SB give you special little towelettes for tar removal, as if it were as innocuous as the delicious greasy residue of KFC.

One grease clogs your heart, the other breaks it.

If we all lock fingers rather than point them, perhaps the next time this happens there’ll be a thirsty back-up well next door to slurp up the gurgling crude. Or, better yet, we’ll get off our asses and finally kickstart the demand-driven green energy boom. As this NPR piece points out, Americans think they are entitled to cheap gas, and the folks at BP are just trying to provide that for them.

To end on a somewhat optimistic note, the Persian Gulf experienced a much worse disaster in the ‘90s, and while the ecology of the area is permanently disrupted, a decent recovery took place. Let’s hope for the best, and then work toward it, together.

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5 thoughts on “Ambient Depression and the Oil Spill

  1. How is this nobody’s fault? When you run a business that can potentially crush the livelihoods of thousands of people, you need a non-market driven back-up plan. The market will indeed encourage you NOT to have a back-up plan. But if you have not been forced to have a back-up plan, it’s both your fault and those (i.e. the gov’t) who did not force you to have a back-up plan’s fault.

    Make sense?

    It’s not just an accident and your “it’s just a bummer” response is not only trite, my dear friend, it’s plain old insufficient given the devastation of the people in the area.

    It’s BP’s fault and the government’s fault. Next time let’s not just hope they have a back-up plan, let’s make sure they do.

  2. My point, perhaps not so eloquently or explicitly executed, was that this is everyone’s fault. Including you for driving to work this morning.

    No offense, of course, since I did the same damn thing.

    Stack-ranking the blame:

    1. BP
    2. Government
    3. Billy

    But my other point is that the blame game gets us nowhere. The NPR piece made me extremely sad; hearing Americans filling up enormous gas tanks but not understanding their part in this is tough to swallow.

    Of course, I understand my part in it and I’m not doing enough to help, either.

    Damn, now I’m more depressed. Thanks!

  3. Awesome reply.

    Have I ever told you about BPFEI, Billy’s Plan for Fiscal and Energy Independence? It goes like this:

    1. Tax all middle eastern oil $10/barrel
    2. Use $5 of each barrel to fund domestic energy — nuclear, solar, wind and, yes, domestic oil drilling
    3. Use the other $5 to pay down the deficit
    4. Make absolutely sure in the legislation that the $10 cannot be used for anything else
    5. Tell the Middle East to go pump itself

    I’d argue the long-term solution is to create an environment (no pun intended) where businesses and consumers see that it’s in their best interest to get off oil. Gas prices will go up under the BPFEI but tough. That’s life.

    This gives us a path to energy independence and forces consumers to adapt. Everybody, even the inevitable labor lobby groups and Tea Partiers who will be against it, will benefit.

    Problem solved. Thank me later.

  4. Sir, I am intrigued by your thoughts and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    If only we could capture the whining when gas prices go up and convert that into usable energy, our problems would be solved…

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