I was in the pristine Colorado Plateau area of Utah when the full extent of this ecological disaster hit. And when the oil rig blew I was into one of my "ignore the bad news" phases.
Throughout my vacation and the subsequent period after it I only got bits and pieces of this disaster. And BP's inability to cope with it. I think on some level I was on an "oh, here we go again" level. But this is not just another Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Louisiana Shores, marshes and bayous.
We can drill for oil in deep water but our oil companies seem totally unprepared for clean up when their ill-thought safety measures fail. They have been going for the big payoffs and record breaking profits hoping the worst never happens. Well, the worst has. Safety measures either did not exist or failed. And how to stop the spill was not thought out fully. Equipment needed to stem the flow was not easily available.
So this plume of black oil smoke is like 400 idling diesel buses in front of the white marble US Capital. Only it is not just darkening the marble (eating it with the acidity in the smoke) but joining the trade winds and changing not just the weather in the gulf but the entire world.
We all are familiar with images of oil coated birds. Ecologists have developed techniques for rescuing and washing those hardest hit, but we have never dealt with an oil spill this large or this extensive in its reach due to tides and winds. Green plants scrub out air - the air burning oil is polluting. This marsh grass will die.
I read a comment by a friend on Facebook which compared this disaster to Chernobyl. Remember the melt down of the nuclear energy plant in Russia? I think he was just nipping at the edge of how bad this could be. They contained Chernobyl. This is not contained. It has hit the loop current and will hit the Gulf Stream. We will be living with this mistake on the part of an oil company for decades.