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Return of the Sea Monster as a Force of Nature

Last week I wrote about the oil spill in the Gulf and today I was looking at my Loch Ness model of a sea monster with a cute little red beret.  I thought about the concept of a SEA MONSTER. Any terrible  sea monster worth its salt would:

     1.  Kill things indiscriminately

     2.  Hide under the water until it is unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

     3.  Be very hard to kill or subdue.

Sound familiar?  Because the gulf oil spill IS a Sea Monster – probably worse because the Spill Monster doesn’t just kill virgins and itinerant fishermen – it kills everything.  Kills grass and insects and crustaceans (like shrimp) and also sucks the oxygen right out of the water so it doesn’t just kill everything now and then go about its business, but it makes recovery impossible.

If I was a senator or congressman I would be drafting up a bill requiring drilling AND mining companies to not only do a complete and comprehensive risk assessment PRIOR to exploration or drilling activity, but also to publish their contingency plans, disaster recovery plans and emergency plans.

Somewhere along the way – the phrase “disaster recovery” planning got pinned to the information technology recovery but it really applies to everything and certainly to risky endeavors like mining and drilling.

It would be tempting to say that the risk assessment and disaster recovery planning (in the broad sense) should be required on everything that has the potential to adversely affect the planet.   Who would administer it?   This is where the U.S. is again trapped into a corner by the responsibilities of each federal agency.  

In a perfect world, you’d like to think that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) would be in charge, but that, under the present structure, would exclude deep sea drilling and agribusiness concerns.   Because the EPA is regulating toxic substances like chemicals, and air quality, but not everything that affects the ‘natural environment’.

We need an ENVIRONMENTAL OMBUDSMAN to protect the citizens of the United States, and maybe of the whole world.   This position would cut across the current agency lines to include oil drilling/extraction; mining as in strip mining;  use of pesticides in agribusiness; industrial pollution of rivers, lakes and oceans; and deforestation.

Over-fishing belongs in the same category.  I have heard that Blue Fin Tuna is now endangered and the United Nations is going to vote this year on protective measures. 

Basically all these kind of industries, mining, drilling, fishing are all scooping raw material up out of the earth and selling it.  The companies involved seem intent on drilling, fishing or scooping up as much as they can get of FREE STUFF from the planet, and then selling it for enormous amounts of money.  Again, you would think that old self-preservation gene would kick in, but instead, it may be that when one of these industries hears that whatever they are taking could be limited, or managed, or made less easy to get, they rush to get every more before the limit or ban goes into effect. 

This behavior accelerates the underlying diminishing supply problem, drives up prices, making industries want to get even more of their oil, minerals, diamonds, fish, whales, or whatever and so the cycle becomes maximally destructive to the environment on even a shorter time line.

One of the biggest aggravating factors of the current SPILL MONSTER is that we, the taxpayers, basically financed it and now we are going to get to pay to clean it up, and the paying includes providing services for all the damaged parties.  Do you really think that BP is going to cover the entire costs by the end of the day?  I am highly skeptical.

We keep hoping that man’s (and woman’s) survival instinct is going to kick in at some point and people will think, “If we don’t keep the earth clean, it is going to negatively affect MY health, or MY business, or MY customers”, but we, as a country, are not quite a that tipping point yet.   I hope we get there sooner instead of later.