Friday, May 7, 2010

Eve of Destruction

You might be thinking that I should be writing about the greatest tragedy to strike my home since rich people figured out it existed. You might be right. You probably are right. There are a few factors at play for me. First, as usual, there is nothing I can do about it. I can't even be there. Second, and I don't know how to phrase this without sounding like I am making psychic claims or being a pompous ass, but for me it had already happened. It was always going to happen. That doesn't mean that I came out of the Gulf covered in oil last August. Or that the Dolphins feeding out by the pier were already suffocated and dead. Or even that all of the fish markets were closed and everyone was out of work. I just mean that when you know that something is inevitable you are not surprised when it happens because you have always been thinking about it happening. A point that Nichols Nassim Taleb makes that I find appropriate is, and I am going by memory here, that it isn't about figuring the percentages of something happening, it is about how much damage they will inflict when they do happen. That is why I don't support oil and I don't support nuclear energy. I realize that it confers all the golden grace of walking the middle path to say that these things have their place. I would change that slightly and say "had." We should have moved beyond these outdated systems and on to something else by now. To me solar is the only real answer we have. Passive and active solar. Wind where we can. Tides if the technology gets there and geo-thermal in the limited places where it works.
As I said before, all of this is one giant externality. If the spill in the Gulf was internalized, who could afford gas? I don't think it is semantics to say that lost jobs and unrented hotel rooms are the price of gas. Not to mention an aesthetic Sand County Almanac argument that I would make that this has also, possibly, destroyed the uniqueness that I love about my home. Of course everyone was trying as hard as they could to destroy it in the first place anyway.
I have never understood the freight train nature of a society that compels everyone to want to stay on the straight path. I am completely happy to look at the situation and say "Sail boats and solar cars from here on out." But that is me. I would be happier that way anyway. What I really can't comprehend is the way some can look at this as just the cost of doing business and something that we can get past. Since I majored in this stuff in college, which was now a decade ago by the way, it was already known that oil would only get harder and harder to get to and harvest. That drilling would get more and more expensive until it cost more to get it out then could be made by selling it. It was also predicted by some, and I agreed, that that wouldn't stop the system from trying to perpetuate itself. That is what is going on here. The international oil community is the same thing as Japanese whalers. The purpose and the age have moved on but the system will seek to maintain. It will do so by claiming that because it existed it has to exist. This isn't a cheap tautology. It is costing all of us, whether that is monetary or psychological It will surely cost many physically as well.
Our current President and political structure has no inclination, disposition or will to discuss these issues in any real way. They will go by to get by and insist that what has been must be. As I said before, as long as the people in charge only have to buy tickets to the Bahamas instead of Destin, the problem is just one of management. I will never have that luxury as you can't really change the directions home.

1 comment:

Chad said...

I see it everyday here in Syrup City as they hold the Offshore Technology Conference here in Houston while a billion dollar company fights the problem with decade old technology and practically admits they did plan for something that would indelibly happen. As they hold the Offshore Technology Conference and ask on KUHF how the spill will affect the industry and the folks say it is a minor speed bump that billion dollar company did plan for almost a given contingency, it is troubling, depressing and sad. I have been hopeful about s much despite the evidence, but this almost too much to take in.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.