Sunday, May 2, 2010

The BP Oil Spill, Some Facts and a Few Questions

Andrew Cline has written a fine article on The American Spectator discussing the recent BP platform oil spill. Not surprisingly, the anti-oil crowd instantly jumped in to pollute the comments section. Obviously anticipating some of them, Cline included a few facts about oil spills worth mentioning:
In fact, natural seepage leaks far more oil into the oceans than man-made spills do, according to a joint study by NASA and the Smithsonian Institution. The study found that natural underground leaks put an average of 62 million gallons of oil a year into the world's oceans. Offshore drilling? Just 15 million gallons a year. Tanker spills leak 37 million gallons a year.
Though he doesn't say so, in fact that seepage has been going on for untold centuries. If I recall correctly, the early 16th century explorer Magellan notes the fact of oil slicks in the Santa Barbara Channel in one of his journals.

Of course, the environmentalist response to all this is utterly reactionary. Cline quotes one,
"We're appalled that the president is unleashing a wholesale assault on the oceans," Jackie Savitz of Oceana told the New York Times.
I long for the day when these crackpots are treated by the major media as exactly that, rather than responsible adults stating a (faux, as it happens) mainstream view. I fully expect the New York Times to be out of business (or officially, rather than unofficially, performing the role of Pravda) before that happens.

(Thank heavens for 'new media'.)

To the anti-oil crowd, I have a question: what would you advocate doing without?

1. Medical devices of every variety (most of which use plastic in some form, made from oil),

2. Food transported more than a few miles from its source,

3. Clothing for billions of people (nearly all of whom would be poorly clad if not naked or even dead without oil products),

4. Shelter that keeps out killing cold...

The list could be made thousands of items long, of course.

Also, would you accept the construction of thousands of new nuclear plants to power electric cars (roughly half of whose components still require oil to make synthetics)? How would you power airplanes, then?

Sadly, the Left's answers to all these questions are well known. They consist of equal parts fantasy ("new Green technology will miraculously transform the world while raising costs only modestly, if at all") and Puritanism ("You should make do with less, a lot less.")

[This article has been updated since first publication. 13:05 5/1.]

[Update 2:] Vulcan's Hammer has an excellent post on the subject keyed off a recent WSJ editorial and focusing on the issues of safety. Here's a sample:
When an airliner tragically crashes and kills everyone aboard, does anyone suggest that society should revert back to ocean liners to get from, let’s say, Boston to London? No. When there is a pile up of cars where passengers are killed, does anyone suggest that society revert to the alternative of horse and buggy? No. Accidents happen even in a perfect world and no reasonable person is going to revert to a lower standard of living because of the threat of the odd incident. So why is oil held to a different standard than other technologies?

Sadly, the answer is by now obvious: The rabid environmentalist's concern is not with safety, and there is no achievable, rational standard that would satisfy them. They desire to shut down industrial civilization, as much and as fast as possible.

1 comment:

Ken said...

They would, if they were honest, choose "all of the above"...

...for everyone else (gotta be warm, healthy, and able to travel to raise consciousness, don't'cha know?).

Because what they want is nine-tenths of us dead, and they want to have a hand in picking and choosing.

Some people are just wrong. Some people are just evil.