I watched Obama’s presidential address this evening about the oil spill in the gulf: “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes” and “We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused.” will likely be quoted in every article written about this address until the end of time.
There was a blurb in my New York Times email summary yesterday which announced:
Environmentalists Use Oil Spill as a Rallying Cry. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been declared the worst environmental catastrophe ever in the United States. And that could help American environmentalists in the long run.
My first thought before I read the article was a cynical one; “Well yeah, that’s great for the environmentalists, but the establishment needs to take this seriously too”. Though I did expect him to say words to that effect, I was still relieved to hear the President say that he will ensure measures be taken to turn around America’s dependence on fossil fuels and that new avenues be developed for more viable sources and efficient use of energy. Of course, I’m not expecting things to change overnight, and it’s a sure bet the lobbyists will do everything in their power to keep the status quo in place, but even they won’t ever again be able to deny that this disaster could have been avoided if offshore drilling hadn’t taken place to begin with. A 6-month moratorium on drilling seems like a good way for Obama to show he means business. To the naysayers who affirm the U.S. can’t afford a transition to clean energy, Obama said, “I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy—because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.”
It’s simply part of human nature to put off making necessary big changes until a major catastrophe leaves no other options. In the business world, the assumption is that executives will work 70-100 hours per week and do whatever it takes to get the job done. The option is to keep up the pace or get replaced by more ambitious candidates. When a decision-maker cracks under stress and/or make big mistakes in the line of fire it’s usually put down to the fact that the individual is the cause of the problem but the question is almost never raised as to whether proper resources were allocated to begin with. Corporations have one modus operandi; keep pumping the planet and it’s inhabitants for all they’ve got while there’s a profit to be made and keep costs down, at any cost.
It’s about time serious measures be taken to keep the big offenders in check to ensure we preserve this planet for generations to come. It’s never been ours to destroy in the first place; after all, we’re all just temporary residents here.
Photo: President Obama delivers his speech on the BP oil spill from the Oval Office. (Source: CBS)