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May 24, 2010 – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today
that the government will ascertain the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico by means of its own efforts. This is obviously in reaction to BP’s ongoing headscratching
whenever the subject comes up. We already know it’s a whole heck of a lot. The question I want answered is, when will it stop? What in God’s name do we do if it never stops? If it cannot be stopped, what happens to BP? What happens to offshore drilling?
How much will the American people sacrifice to stop another Deepwater Horizon from happening? Would they be willing to swap their SUV’s for Volt’s? Would they give up their cars for mass transit? Could they be talked into telecommuting? I think they’d be willing to give up a lot. Someone just has to ask them. That someone could take an enormous hit, politically. Then again, they just might earn the admiration and – oh, what IS the word? respect? - of the American people.
What if the well never stops spewing oil into the Gulf? There are supposed to be 11 billion gallons of oil in that particular well. Let’s say half of it gushed, the other half dribbled out over a period of decades or centuries. Five and a half billion gallons. Divided by 40, the number of gallons in a barrel. I calculate 137, 500,000 barrels of oil. Now I need a way to make sense of that number. I also need a way to make sense of the numbers of sea creatures it would kill, whose rotting bodies would use up the oxygen in the water. How far out will the dead zone extend? Most importantly, will this fiasco make Kevin Costner and his business partners insanely rich?
What if the well is never capped? Do we really think BP will admit they have failed? I think they will enact this farce for as long as we let them. Every week, we’ll breathe another sigh of relief, as they tell us – yet again – “By George, we’ve got it!” It seems our President is a preternaturally patient man. Will he be the one to break the news to us? When will he admit there can be no more offshore drilling? At the same time?
What if the well is never capped? Will we turn our backs, unable to face the horror of what we have done? At what point will the Gulf be declared “dead?” Will it take decades, or only years? Is the Gulf so entirely separate from the rest of the ocean that only the Gulf will die?
How many national days of mourning should there be? What will we call the Day of Commemoration? How does a country observe the beginning of the end? Should its motto be “We should never have let it happen?” Perhaps “And to think, we knew better?” The most apt would certainly be “Forgive us, dear children.”
What is the word for this kind of holocaust – the slow death of a planet? Edencide?

Be sure to read David Gergen's masterfully written article,"Oil Spill Response Out of Control,"
at CNN.com.

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