Monday was the 100th day after the disaster oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Already this accident has cost jobs — from fisherman to the head of British Petroleum; spoiled vacations and destroyed fish and shrimp, set back local economies from Texas to Florida. It has contributed to mental health problems all over the Gulf Coasr and wiped out the work of generations. Disaster seems to be an inadequate way to describe what has happened in these past One Hundred Days.Tar balls, oil sheen, globs of crude and petroleum smells have come ashore on beaches since the disaster began with an April 20 drill rig explosion that killed 11 workers. BP capped the well July 15, but this is at best still a temporary measure until the gusher can be plugged underground. Scientists estimate that between 94 million and 184 million gallons of oil has poured into the Gulf. TO READ MORE GO TO ENVIRONMENT REPORT
People have responded to this disaster with stoic resignation, unbridled anger, vituperative protests, political finger-pointing, deep sadness, and fervent prayer. In fact, in our own church in faraway central Pennsylvania; we have prayed regularly for all of those who have been impacted by these circumstances and praying the damages to their lives can be minimized and healed. I suspect this final reaction has been far more helpful to the citizens of this affected reason than the list with which I began this paragraph.
We often try to make sense out of such situations and the government, as well as industry, no doubt, will spend still millions more trying to examine what went wrong; as well law firms seeking to whom to assess responsbility for the damages. This will be going on for a long, long time. I suspect the outcomes will please no one and too many persons will pay a higher price for this spill than is fair or reasonable or just.
Walt Kelly once spoke great wisdom through one of his characters in the comic strip Pogo, one of the forerunners to the environmental movement in the US and an earlier promoter of Earth Day. “Gentlemen, we have met the enemy and he is us.”
As long as we focus our energy efforts on petroleum, as long as Americans (and others in this global economy) chose their comfort and convenience over sound ecological concerns, as long as we pursue resources in unstable environments; there will be the push for exploration and production that makes disasters such as occurred on April 20th inevitable. All the “green” practices of recycling, energy conservation, etc, will not repair the damage created when we do not give due consideration to the ecosystems and their limitations as they have been designed by our Creator. The call in the Book of Genesis to exercise dominion over creation is a call to stewardship of it resources for all humanity and for all the time the Maker has determined humanity should have on this planet. It is not a license for the reckless use, consumption, and waste of what God has graciously given to all of us.