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The tragedy evolving in the Gulf of Mexico has skulked around my consciousness (yours too, of course) for half a month already, and who knows where this evolution will go. To compare this spill with others, I added links at the end of this post. The logo on D. T. Mariano of Dolphin Tankers, transferring fluids in Bayonne Thursday, prompted me to offer my $0,000,000.02 although I’d much rather do something to solve the problem, the issue . . . literally. Like most people I enjoy both a pristine-enough environment and the products of minerals that get pumped or dug out of the earth. Given the painstaking calculations and effort, most of the time, miraculous feats of extraction and conversion just work.
If you were born midcenturyish 20th, you might remember Harry Truman . . . Harry Randall Truman, that is, the 52-year resident of Mt. St. Helen’s who refused to leave his mountain as Vulcan started to threaten before the massive May 18, 1980 eruption that killed him, quickly no doubt at the end.
I believe we are all like that Harry R. Truman in that we’re living on a tremendous string of miracles, wonderful things I enjoy . . . like bread and roses for all . . . but miracles nonetheless like our food distribution system: my little supermarket has fresh mangoes from Central America sometimes, from the Caribbean other times, and South America other times. Orange juice comes here in tankers from Brazil. When a volcano erupts in Iceland, merchants in the Netherlands cannot receive their fresh cut flowers growing in their Kenyan “fields!”
Coexistence is one thing, but global inter-dependence to the degree we live it today is nothing short of a costly miracle. Example: when I needed my urine tested for a “z-card,” urine collected in a Queens doctor’s office got fedexed to a federally-sanctioned lab in Ohio; imagine that . . . my urine got a truckride to the airport and then a airplane ride to Ohio to be tested, as if NYC lacks such labs.
Columns of water spurting from Meagan Ann . . . just an illusion. Routine miracles are NO illusion: cellphones, Skype, computers in general, and this support technology that allows me to blog. Medical miracles of all sorts. These routine miracles are real: spectacular miracles like 131 total Space Shuttle flights with only two failures, and really routine miracles like thousands of night- and adverse-weather passenger flights carrying millions of passengers with .00001 failure. Or thousands of vessels pushing hundreds of thousands of miles through night and adverse weather with millions of $$ in cargo with miniscule failure.
You get my point: when I start thinking these miraculous feats of technology are routine, cease to appreciate the risk, and take for granted the fruits of these miracles . . . I’m setting myself up for disillusionment. It’s heart-breaking to see the brick-red crude fouling the Gulf of Mexico, but even when due diligence is applied to a task, stuff happens. Here’s to an expeditious clean-up. Is there a role for the non-technological petroleum consumer? Is there a realistic way to step away from Harry R. Truman’s footsteps?
Fotos by Will Van Dorp, as are the thoughts. I’d love to hear yours. I’m easily wow!ed by technological feats: if you are too and haven’t read Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, try it. It’s American history, 19th century technology, and fairly contemporary technological miracles of engineering at 1.5 miles deep.
Major oil spills and disasters since 1967, with some redundancy . . . a list of oil spills going back to the big one in Newtown Creek (NYC) from more than half century ago, and a century-plus’ worth of gushers.
Basic Q & A on “liability, cleanup, and consequences” related to this specific event.
Finally, check out this site for what appears to be balanced discussion of the energy business: The Oil Drum.