Sunday, 2 May 2010

Spill Baby Spill

I'm sure I'm not the first one to make that twist on Sarah Palin's "Drill Baby Drill" mantra. In fact I saw Elizabeth May use it in one of her tweets earlier this week, referring of course to the horrible oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. This spill keeps getting worse and worse, and no one seems to know how or when to make it stop.

A metaphor for the stupidity of off-shore oil drilling keeps coming into my mind and I thought I'd flesh it out a little and share it:

Let's say you have a jug of nice clean drinking water. You're thirsty and it's important to keep the water clean, for the drink you're going to have now and the one you're going to need later. You keep the covered jug of water on the counter. In the cupboard under the counter is where you keep a small container of bleach. You think you need that too, because it is a quick and easy way to keep your white laundry really sparkling white. You are careful with the bleach and keep that container well-sealed because the bleach can really wreck stuff or burn your skin if used improperly. You sure don't want the bleach getting in the water unintentionally. A very very tiny amount of bleach in the water isn't a problem, but too much would contaminate it and maybe even be lethal to anyone who drinks the water, including you and your pet dog Rover, not to mention the ficus plant in the front room. You know that you definitely want to keep these two substances separate from each other.

So the one thing you definitely DON'T do is drill a hole through the bottom of the water jug and the countertop and stick a hose down through the water into the bleach bottle in order to have easy access to the bleach. What's more, you don't need to actually try this out first to see it's not a good idea; just imagining having bleach running up through your jug of drinking water is enough to know that this would be a really stupid thing to do. Even with the best quality hose, the best quality seals and someone watching for leaks all the time, it is a really really dumb idea.

Especially when you (and Rover, and the ficus plant) need the water to live, and you only 'need' the bleach to keep up appearances.


Juliana Crespo said...

Great post, Theresa. This incident is disappointing and frightening on SO many levels. What is especially upsetting is that Obama approved off-shore drilling (even as he claims to be concerned about global warming and environmental matters), and here, just a mere couple of months after the matter, we have this horrible, horrible situation to deal with. Not to blame him (because he has done some good things), but I guess I though we'd be able to rely on him to make smarter decisions.

Liz said...

People are rightfully angry and, the truth is, all of us together have the power to stop this insanity. But, that means everyone needs to cut back and make smarter choices about everything we consume. Unfortunately, when it comes right down to it, most of those angry people aren't willing to change. We talk the talk but few are willing to walk the walk. (I'll get down off my soapbox now)

hadv said...

How true, too many angry people, but few willing to cut back on their wants.. (and the need for more oil/energy).

Eco Yogini said...


I don't listen to the cbc anymore (only French podcasts pour français moi, blegh) so I miss events now.

this is terrible..... and scary.

Theresa said...

Hi Juliana - thanks. I sure hope that Obama reverses his decision permanentely, and I hope our Canadian government also reconsiders. But I doubt either of those will happen. Our addiction/dependence on oil is too strong.

Hi Liz - more people need to get on that soap box I think! I just have no idea what will convince people that we need to consume less of everything. It is just so maddening. And it's not like everyone needs to all of a sudden go off the grid and live in a cave - just cutting back would do a lot. I have no idea how to get people to see the interconnection among all things though - that remains a mystery to me.

Hadv - yes, that's it exactly. I was reading some comments on the where people are mad at the Greek people for being mad at their government's austerity program, but the people who were commenting are just as guilty of not wanting to go on any kind of austerity program! Totally insightless!

EcoY - it is sad and scary yes. There are many days when I wish I didn't listen to the news either.

Darth Schrader said...

I know this is an old article, but I had a thought to share.

When it comes to drilling for oil, the US is a country that seems to be very split right now. I find opinions like this all the time and I can appreciate the concern people have, especially in light of the circumstances at the time of the article. What I find hard to understand though, is that people get so one sided on issues like this. The cars I drive run on gasoline, as is the case with most cars in the world. I long for the day when we have alternative fuel sources that are reasonably priced, but until that day comes, the answer should not be to ban, limit or otherwise hinder our ability to have access to a needed resource that we have an abundance of in the US.

It is still important that companies be held to a certain standard of course, but even under the best of circumstances, accidents do happen and we have to accept and understand that. While I found your analogy interesting to read, you failed to bring into account the fact that we rely on that resource substantially, not just to 'keep up appearances' as you put it. With the impact we've already seen had by fuel costs rising, imagine how severe things would get if we were to just go cold turkey. Truck lines would stop moving goods over night causing a chain of supply and demand that would be devastating to the of many great issues we would face.

Again, I am 100% in support of alternative fuels and look forward to their arrival, but until those solutions exist, we need to be allowed to drill for oil in hopes of breaking the reliance we now have upon those nations that hate us.

Theresa said...

Hi there Darth, great name! This is an old post; thanks for taking the time to thoughtfully reply. Generally I subscribe to the precautionary principle, illustrated in my water/bleach analogy, i.e., the more risk inherent in something, the more we should try to do something else instead. Even if the something else is less convenient, more arduous, etc. I accept that a "cold turkey" approach is not realistic, but we really do need to get moving on consuming less and looking at less risky sources of energy, even if that means not having whatever we want, instantly and conveniently. LIfe depends on water; it does not depend on oil. Just a little moderation could go a long, long way. I notice the name of your blog is "My Conservative Blog" - I think conservation is key, and I'm sure given that name, you would agree. I wish you peace and contentment.