Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ten Year Later and Still Leaking

It was during a storm in the Gulf of Mexico in 2004 that an accident happened in an oil installation of Taylor Energy. More that ten years after that accident it is found that the leak still continues.
For more about the accident and the aftermath click here.

This incident exemplifies the complexity related to oil production and the liabilities involved. How is responsible? And who is accountable in the case of an oil spill? For how long are these liabilities going to be maintained? What if the company involved disappears by going bankrupt? Are the assets of the owners (stockholders) at risk in case of the disappearance of the corporation?

In a few words: who should pay?

Well. one thing we know, we pay. Regardless of the monetary compensations or costs of cleanup that the oil corporations have to incur and the payment to those directly affected, we know that sooner or later we will all be affected. The damage to the environment is done as a whole as the environment is a unified, interrelated system. We as part of this environment will undoubtedly be affected. The question for me now becomes, so how much and how soon will I be affected? No doubt this is a tricky question, the answer of which is complex and, one would say, almost impossible to answer.

Some would then jump to the conclusion that because we don't know the extent of damage or the magnitude of the risk we should stop any and all exploration and exploitation of oil and gas. This is not possible due the need for these resources to satisfy our current needs for energy. But there is much more we can do to minimize risk and meliorate the impact caused by these accidents. We must remove the idea that the bottom line in these activities is 'profit'. We must make a concerted effort to satisfy our needs in a communal frame or reference. We must have the welfare of our society as the bottom line. This, as Naomi Klein claims: "changes everything". For more about Naomi Klein and her book :This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate" click here.

Our approach to the solutions must be holistic and optimistic. As Diane Ackerman guides us in her book :The Human Age. (Click here for Diane Ackerman's site.) We know we have changed our planet (at least the part where we inhabit) in every way. Humans have changed the conditions of our environment in such a way that can't be restituted to is 'original' state. For one reason alone: what is the 'original' state? We have changed (some would say messed) the environment in ways we are not aware, like the domestication of animals and the genetic modification of our crops. Even undomesticated species have changed due to human activities. Think for example about birds living in our cities that have learn how to sustain a living in the 'urban' ecosystem.

There is no way we can go back, so how would you think we should go forward?

No comments: