Friday, June 18, 2010

BP Spill and VF

I hope we’re all still outraged over the BP oil spill.  I hope that those people out there who call this the Age of Indifference are wrong.  I hope this catastrophe doesn’t get forgotten in all the miscellaneous hoop-la. 

If you watched President Obama’s speech last week, you were probably left a little bewildered.  What exactly is the plan?  This oil accident is profoundly devastating to local economies which rely on a non-oil-laden ocean; hopefully, BP will recoup them for current and projected future losses.  But this oil spill affects us all.

I have to admit, part of me is concerned that this is a spill from which the world will never recover.  I thought how ironic it would be if this were the end of man; no atomic bomb, no massive sea level rise (by the way, what’s the deal with Al Gore?), no meteor; just an accident from capitalism as usual.  But then I looked at a world map: Earth is BIG.  It will recover; however, whether we’re fit to stick around is another matter. 

As I sit here, typing away on my keyboard, I wonder about all the luxuries we’ve become accustomed to; is the BP oil spill the price we all pay for our cheap food and affordable toys; is this the cost of the American dream?

This oil spill shines a spotlight on an urgent need: the need to commit to an energy source that doesn’t come from a mile beneath the surface of the sea.  Solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, (dare I say nuclear?); these methods are viable, today.  The idea of pumping oil from the ground in one area of the world, then shipping it around the globe to the highest bidders, is simply a bad one.  Spills happen.  And they ruin lives.  We can and we must do better.  If that means making a huge investment in a country-wide renewable energy grid so that New Yorkers can use the solar energy harvested in Arizona, then so be it.  I bet we could find some spare money in the $280 billion farm bill.

Now, I think vertical farming is something which should get more attention in light of the recent calamity.  Not only because we could raise seafood in them, which is obviously a hot issue now, as our most productive Gulf Coast fisheries have been severely crippled; but we also have an energy incentive to move toward cities that are self-sustaining and move away from the Age of Big Oil. 

The idea that the present state of the world is the best we can do, is simply absurd.  Oil, when drilled, is toxic to our planet, and hence, to us.  Who said it was OK to poison our air, our water, our fellow living things?  Not me.

Please, BP, pay billions and billions of dollars to the people you’re accident has affected.  We know you’ve got the money.  But then, please, BP, do the good thing—which is different than the savvy thing—and encourage every government which panders to your wishes to adopt a different sort of capitalism.

It isn’t beyond the scope of human capacity to enact rules and financial incentives which encourage clean energy.  I know it’s not easy; any economist will agree that adjusting incentives is ridden with the unknown.  But the principle should be an easy one to stand behind: Enact laws reflective of our collective values.  I hope I need not worry that care for our planet makes the grade.  Don’t you?

If you're interested in anti-BP social groups, check this out.

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