August Crude

Fix it! Fix it!

The New York Times just published an article titled Our Fix-It Faith and the Oil Spill. In it the author, Elisabeth Rosenthal, wrote:

Americans have long had an unswerving belief that technology will save us—it is the cavalry coming over the hill, just as we are about to lose the battle. And yet, as Americans watched scientists struggle to plug the undersea well over the past month, it became apparent that our great belief in technology was perhaps misplaced.

The “top kill” method failed this weekend, and most of the other options carry too much risk with little guarantee of success. We are at a point where we have to acknowledge that the oil in the Gulf is flowing until August. We sit, disillusioned, because we have had so much faith that “someone” somewhere will find a solution. It is the Apollo 13 effect: anything can be fixed with a little duct tape and good old American ingenuity.

However, rather than face the worst case scenario, BP tosses new “fixes” at the well, including those that could cause additional harm. Some people have gone so far as to suggest sending a nuclear bomb down to the oil well. “Nuke the bastard” is heard again in the streets of America, but this time the target is oil, not alien ships.

What an unbelievably foolish idea—one of many where we allow our frustration to override our common sense. More “fixes” that can make things worse than what they are. We’ve already seen this with the dispersant that BP has used. In the end, the cure can be worse than the disease, as horrible as that is to contemplate.

All that we can do now is come face to face with that, which we have created. This is no act of nature, no act of terrorism. This oil spill is as American as apple pie; it is equal parts citizen hubris, and corporate malfeasance.