Month 10, Day 22: Sticker Shock?

Business Week ran an AP story on the anticipated costs of climate change in the Gulf of Mexico over the next few decades. Trying to submit letters to print magazines is often problematic, simply because the contact information for LTEs is not easy to find. But I’m persistent. The flood/sandbag motif is new; I’m going to try and use that one more in the weeks to come.

I hope you are all planning on VOTING. For Democrats.

Looking into the future, it’s obvious to everyone but the tea-partiers and the conservative corporatists who fund them that climate change is the most significant threat humanity has ever faced. The scientific evidence is unequivocal; anthropogenic global warming is real and dangerous. Whether describing it in quanta of human misery (hundreds of millions displaced; millions of acres of cropland devastated) or in the dollars-and-cents language of the business sector, there can be no doubt that even if we act quickly, we’re in for a world of hurt. While action is going to be expensive, the short-term orientation of many in the business world leaves them unable to apprehend the costs of inaction. Those, it turns out, are orders of magnitude greater than the economic impacts of responding realistically and robustly to an imminent threat. When a flood is coming, only idiots quibble about the cost of sandbags.

Warren Senders

Month 7, Day 6: Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water…

The Chicago Tribune (last seen as the site of a remarkably stupid column by Jonah Goldberg) ran an unremarkable AP story noting that oil is now found on the beaches in every state that borders the Gulf.

The spreading filth from the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon is making its presence felt everywhere. Beaches are contaminated, ecosystems shattered, and clean-up workers are already experiencing health problems. If anything good comes of this debacle, it must be that Americans finally come to terms with the truth about oil: it costs too much.

Not only have we subsidized oil production, keeping prices artificially low for decades, but we deferred the cost of cleaning up after our fossil fuel use, assuming that some future generation will have the technology well in hand when the bill comes due. Alas, it turns out we’re the generation who’ll have to pay — and the technology never got developed, as BP’s nonexistent contingency plans confirm. With oil accumulating on beaches everywhere in the Gulf of Mexico, the evidence mounts in each day’s news: we must break our addiction to oil, or it will break us.

Warren Senders

Month 5, Day 19: Dunk ’em All!

Back to the Gulf. The Boston Herald printed an AP article on the effects of the spill on the fishing industry, so I used that as the hook for a short and vicious little rant. Will they print it? Ha.

Oil gushes from a hole in the ocean floor; British Petroleum won’t let scientists measure the flow, although estimates go up to 80,000 barrels a day (almost 3.5 million gallons). While the corporations involved in the disaster point fingers at one another, and Republican senators block legislation raising the liability cap, there’s a different sort of buck-passing going on outside the hearing rooms of Congress: Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, just announced that it would give its shareholders a billion dollars in dividends (that’s twice the amount BP has spent thus far on this crisis). Meanwhile, tar balls wash ashore, the ocean is saturated with oil and toxic dispersants, and communities and industries that depend on the Gulf of Mexico are devastated. Will Big Oil and the politicians they’ve bought ever recognize that their responsibilities go beyond maximizing shareholder return on investment? Don’t bet on it.

Warren Senders