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The oily thread through the news

April 30 2010 | Culture Shifting, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

I read a Tom Friedman piece a while ago that talked about how different stories in a single day of news related to one another. Yesterday this concept hit me as I read through one day's New York Times. Look at these separate, yet very related, news stories.

Occupying pretty much the entire front page of the NYT was an image of the out-of-control offshore drilling disaster in the Gulf Coast. The imagery is stunning as the slick became larger than the state of Delaware (over 2,000 square miles).

This story unveiled how the spill was originally radically underestimated (by a factor of 5) and how the Coast Guard had started setting fire to portions of the Gulf of Mexico. Yes. Our Coast Guard is setting fire to our oceans. We see a lot of graphic images in the media... but this one is a fairly jarring image to ponder.

Obama has proven not to be the "chosen one" to many of his previous supporters. Citizens who value the environment are steaming angry at his ongoing lack of spine to take proactive stances regarding the preservation of our ecosystems.

Obama waxes lyrically with grand rhetoric but thus far has completely failed in the area of backing up his talk with action that values and preserves our coastlines. His lack of movement to reinstate the offshore moratorium underscores that this issue is not partisan; both parties have failed equally.

Surfrider is calling for nothing short of a full reinstatement of the offshore moratorium. Offshore drilling is clearly, and quite visibly, not the answer to the future energy needs of this nation. Further, suggesting it IS the answer is insulting the general intelligence of the US population.

Another piece in the same paper was titled "As spill drifts toward Gulf shores, oil companies brace for political whirlwind" and offered an excellent opening paragraph.

"Three words: oil-soaked shorebirds."

This piece talked about how the Exxon Valdez spill and the massive spill off the coast of Santa Barbara INVENTED the environmental movement AND pushed for the moratorium to be put in place. It looks as if we're getting a reminder of why the offshore drilling moratorium was put in place originally. It's a pity we have to learn lessons at this cost.

This story was complete with quotes like, "This is turning out to be one of the world's worst oil spills, and it's clear that offshore drilling cannot be done in a way that sufficiently protects America's coasts," Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) "I respectfully request that the president and the Interior secretary reassess their position on offshore oil."

Yes. Pressure WILL be put in place to reinstate the moratorium that served to protect coastal economies and communities for decades.

Exxon had revenue of $404,000,000,000 in 2007. That's $400 Billion. That makes Exxon larger than 120 countries on this planet. That same year it earned $1,287 for every second of every minute of the year.

This story reported similar stunning financial results, Exxon's profit had risen 38%. Um. Wow. Money = Power. If you wonder why Obama's message of change became a message of stagnation please review these numbers again.

Another oddly juxtaposed piece announced that the Offshore Oil Safety Awards luncheon was being postponed. This one almost seemed like it was written by the crew behind the Daily Show. Could a comedy writer have come up with a funnier story to mirror off a massive offshore drilling disaster?

Clearly safety issues are large. The safeguard "blowout preventer" failed... causing what is already "half an Exxon Valdez" spill and could surpass a "full Exxon Valdez" level in the days ahead.

The opening paragraph reads "Seven years after the American invasion of Iraq, the country has been plunged into a new round of political turmoil in the wake of what appear to be the most open and competitive elections in the nation's long history of colonial rule, dictatorship and war."

When I read this one I thought I was lost in a Bob Dylan lyric. Wait... let me get this straight. The offshore wind farm that was fought by the Kennedy clan for a long, long time (that's another story entirely... in fact it's a book) was not only alive but cleared Federal regulatory review levels? Wild.

Look back at the front page of the paper... look next to the, quite large, image of the oil spill. Just to the left of the massive spill image is this story. Wild placement, certainly well thought out.

Sometimes it pays to take a step back, go for a walk, clear your head... and then re-read the news.

What doesn't seem related often times IS related. Today a clear, indisputable oily thread wove through all these "American stories".

We Americans are out of touch with our energy needs and energy reserves. The two don't jive... it's like we're looking at Enron's financial statements. Simply put, we use much... much more than we have.

We need to change our lives. We need to buck up and understand that our practices coming at an increasing cost.

We need to invest in alternative energies and come to the realization that trying to squeeze oil from a rock, literally 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean, is a bad idea. We're putting our coastal economies and ecosystems at risk. We are putting our futures at risk. This is short sighted. This is wrong.

Let's re-learn what generations before us did when they put the offshore drilling moratorium in place. Offshore drilling is not the answer. Just because companies that are larger than 100 countries on the globe, tell us it's ok... that doesn't mean it ok. Exxon and the other oil companies aren't in business to protect our coastlines. They aren't in business to make sure our seafood and wildlife is untainted. They are in business to turn natural resources into profits. It's our, collective responsibility to preserve our planet for generations to come.

Offshore drilling is not the answer.
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