It’s the phrase of the day.” Why don’t they just”, followed by someone’s solution to the oil flow. Here’s the answer. The don’t because they can’t or because it won’t work or because it just might make things a whole lot worse. I am no fan of huge oil companies or most government agencies but I honestly believe that both our government and BP want this thing to stop and would try whatever they thought had a real chance at working.
Here’s the truth of it. We have gotten spoiled. We have gotten used to technology fixing everything. My generation has seen the first man walk on the moon. We saw smallpox vanquished. We watched fantastic buildings rise from the sands of the desert. Physicians can replace limbs and organs and cure diseases that killed millions a generation ago. Chemicals made it possible to turn arid, barren land into a productive oasis and the food produced made nothing impossible to buy, whatever the season, wherever you lived. Computers that used to take up rooms now fit in the palm of your hand and little kids can use them. We can talk to someone on the other side of the globe as easily as on the other side of the room. Progress. We turned it into a god and now we’re bewildered and angry that the god has apparently gone on vacation and left us with a problem that the best minds in the world can’t solve.
I think this is going to happen more and more. It will happen with food and energy and engineering and medicine. There won’t always be a new frontier. The sky may not be the limit. Our kids may not be able to become whatever they want if they work hard enough. Technology may not find the solution. It’s like we have just hit our teenage years and discovered that our parents don’t actually have all the answers and the fear that comes with the revelation makes us a little crazy.
I suspect that we will do what teenagers have always done. We’ll get angry and obnoxious for a bit. But gradually, we’ll grow up. We’ll learn to accept the fallibility of our parents and institutions and we’ll move on. I think that people who take preparedness and self-sufficiency seriously have already figured it out. It why we keep food on hand. It why we would rather count nr our own ingenuity to solve our problems than look to an expert for a quick fix. We have accepted the limits of hope and found a life in them.
What I grieve for in the Gulf is not just the loss but the necessity of the loss. I grieve that we are so dependent on oil that we must accept the dangers of drilling a mile under the surface of the ocean. I grieve that taking the step of halting all deep water drilling would plunge our nation into an energy crisis, an economic crisis, a food crisis and a security crisis. We have lost our innocence but it is the first step to becoming a grown up. That’s what will happen in the next decade. We will be forced to grow up and face a future of limits. We won’t like it but we’ll do it because we don’t have an option.
I feel like I should have some conclusion here. But like technology, I have reached my limit.