Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Modest Proposal - Embrace Responsibiliity

While I'm still enjoying a month of reflecting upon and rejoicing about my 25th anniversary with my sweet wife, I am going to interrupt the pleasantries once more just to voice outrage once again about this Gulf oil disaster and to propose a solution.

Of course, every reasonable person knows there will be no "fixing" this, there IS no solution to resolve this problem other than probably hundreds of years of the earth healing itself. Still, that does not stop us from trying to find ways of lessening the damage - environmentally and economically. The problem is, that's going to cost. A LOT. More than BP can or will pay.

And so, my modest proposal:

IF you ever gleefully said, "Drill, Baby, Drill," OR

IF you ever voted for someone who gleefully said, "Drill, Baby, Drill,"

[and thus advocated irresponsible offshore drilling]

THEN, it is time to step up and take personal and societal responsibility. IF you truly believed off-shore drilling was the answer and, as it turns out, you were wrong precisely because of disasters like this (and this isn't the first and won't be the last, if we continue), then I will expect you to take some personal responsibility.

Of course, there is no price able to fix this problem, but let's just say, $100 billion* for starters - to deal with the environmental degradation and the economic impact for millions of innocent bystanders. As it turns out, nearly 60 million of you voted for "drill, baby, drill" this last presidential election and so, if each of you would kindly send the Gulf Cleanup Fund a check for $1,600, that would be a starting step in taking responsibility for your actions.

Of course, there may be others who also advocated "drill, baby, drill" who DIDN'T vote for McPalin this last election. I'll expect you to take responsibility, too, and write your check.

If you don't have $16,000 ready today, by all means, go ahead and write a check for the first $8,000 and go ahead and begin selling your houses and cars or whatever is necessary to take responsibility for your position.

Ms Palin, since you were SUCH a big advocate of this, feel free to forward ALL your receipts from your book sells to the fund. You, too, Limbaugh, Savage, Beck, etc.

Thank you very much.


Of course, I'm just venting a bit on the obvious targets perhaps most responsible for this disaster. However, in truth, we are nearly ALL part of the problem to some degree. We ALL like our gas cheap and our cars plentiful. I know I certainly bear some guilt in this disaster by my choices.

I will probably be looking at this more deeply when I'm past my month of Anniversary celebration.

In the meantime, Lord, have mercy on us all.

* Back on May 3, BP was estimating it would spend $12 billion on clean up, but I suspect that figure is 1. Way too low and 2. Does not factor in all the costs (lost income for all those who depend upon tourism for a living, lost income who feed those tourists, who supply the hotels/motels/condos/cabins, etc, lost income for those who fish for a living, the societal costs to those who will lose their homes due to lost income, etc, etc. This disaster will, sadly, have an on-going and impossible to pay cost.

Also, as noted here, the costs of "clean up" will likely be dwarfed by the cost to the Gulf region in terms of jobs and tax dollars.

The costs related to the spill will far surpass the clean up costs. The impacted coastline produces tens of billions in state revenues from tourism, the Washington Post reports.

Final costs remain to be seen. I'd like one relatively pristine Gulf ecosystem, please. What is that price?


Alan said...

You're mistaking a slogan for a value. The radical right doesn't actually care about personal responsibility, they just like to use it as a slogan. It's like "party of life" -- not something they care about, but it looks good on a bumper sticker.

Dan Trabue said...

You think? Do you mean to say you DON'T think they'll step up and start sending those tens of thousands of dollars to the gov't to clean up this mess?

Well, here's their (perhaps) last chance to prove that personal responsibility is not JUST an empty slogan for them. All they have to do is pay for it and get r done and perhaps they can take back the slogan "Personal responsibility" as a modern conservative value.

Otherwise, this will put the nail in the coffin of that old rumor. IF personal responsibility was ever a true conservative trait (and I say it was), it sure does not appear to be anything close to a reality today.

Alan said...

Last nail?

I'd say we past that point a loooooong time ago.

These are the people who claim personal responsibility is important, and then when one of their buddies is caught in a sex scandal, they fight tooth and nail to keep them in office. Remember Vitter? yeah, the Republicans in the Senate gave him a standing ovation when he returned to the Senate after his prostitution scandal came to light. There's Craig, who refused to accept personal responsibility for what he did and leave office before his term was out. There's the entire Republican party, which refuses to acknowledge that their buddy GWB ran up massive deficits by running two wars simultaneously, only one of which was necessary. Those are just a tiny number of the political examples of their refusal to accept personal responsibility.

Want to know which states have the highest numbers of out-of-wedlock births? Highest abortion rates? Highest drug use? Yeah...red states. So, they want schools to spend time teaching religion because the folks on the far right are such utter failures as parents, and they refuse to accept the responsibility of teaching their religion to their own kids.

On the personal level, how many of these stalwart defenders of marriage are themselves divorced? Aren't a bunch of the amerikkkan descenters divorced? How many of them have adopted a kid that might have otherwise been an abortion statistic?

And now they've decided that they're not responsible for this disaster because it's not their oil rig. Drill baby drill is all well and good when you don't personally make a living from fishing in the gulf. They're more than happy to risk other people's livelihoods because they're selfish and do not care about anyone but themselves.

Nope, they're not actually interested in personal responsibility. They're just barking because they like to hear themselves bark and they do not, and never have actually believed in anything they say.

Doug said...

IF you ever voted for someone who gleefully said, "Drill, Baby, Drill,"

[and thus advocated irresponsible offshore drilling]

The former does not imply the latter, particularly the "irresponsible" adjective.

Personal responsibility is: BP caused it, BP should clean it up. I disagree with the cap on damages to BP.

Something should be said about the fact that molasses. But personal responsibility back then did not require those who ever gleefully ate a cookie send in a check for the damages.

And, as you yourself note, your modest proposal is itself artificially targeted because, if you go with indirect blame far enough, you can blame anyone and everyone you want. You're shooting buckshot but only tracking one ball bearing.

This accident sickens me as I know it does you. But it is, unfortunately, what it is. The question is, how do we deal with it in the future? Become neo-Luddites, or learn from it?

Doug said...

(sigh) Left out one close-tag and fouled up the comment.

Something should be said about the fact that this very rig got an award last year for safety from the federal Minerals Management Service. Looks like they've been falling down on the job during both the Bush and Obama administrations, but I see you're only targeting Republicans.

Catastrophic accidents happen, and if we halted or put a moratorium on any industry that had one, then we'd no longer be making molasses. (And then continue in the previous comment.)

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

The MMS, during the Bush Administration and in to the first year or so of the Obama Administration, was a nest of corruption, feather-bedding, orgies, and ignoring their actual legislative mandate. Getting an award for safety from this bunch during this time is a bit like getting an award for abstinence from Larry Flynt.

Again with "accident's happen". . .

Please. Stop. That hurts my head.

Doug said...

And many folks (but fewer every day) want this bunch to be in charge of our health care. :)

Alan said...

"but I see you're only targeting Republicans."

Maybe because it should be obvious to anyone breathing that they're the only idiots running on a platform of "drill baby drill"?

Just a thought.

Doug said...

Indeed, if that's you're sole method of assigning blame, then you're right. But are we really that simplistic?

Dan Trabue said...

Doug, Obama has clearly stated that things were too lax not ONLY in the Bush administration (which it was) but ALSO on in to his OWN administration. I agree. Obama owns some responsibility on this point.

As I noted, this is about our lifestyles - ALL of our lifestyles - and about balancing our extravagant wants and wishes ("cheap oil, fast cars, cheap oil, fast cars!!! Cold AC in the summer, hot house in the winter! I wanna drive every where I go! I want to purchase milk from 2,000 miles away," etc, etc) with the old fashioned notion of personal responsibility, societal responsibility.

We all own a bit of this disaster. But I'll admit being especially pissed at those who demanded "drill, baby, drill" over and over and over and over, belittling those who said, "Now, wait a second..." as not being interested in becoming energy independent, of supporting terrorists and worse.

I'd like to see a bit of humble contriteness from the Drillbabydrill camp. An admission that more and more deregulation and drilling everywhere is NOT a responsible solution for our energy problems.

I'd like to see them own up to their advocacy and begin to pay for it, perhaps just a bit more than those of us who said, "no, wait..."

In this case, we were right and the Palins were wrong. It's time for responsibility.

Dan Trabue said...


Catastrophic accidents happen, and if we halted or put a moratorium on any industry that had one, then we'd no longer be making molasses.

What regulations were there overseeing molasses storage? I'm guessing, given the time period, not many. Halting or slowing corporations that cause many deaths is a RESPONSIBLE thing to do and I fully support it.

IF there were not a safe, responsible and reasonable way to produce molasses, then we shouldn't produce it.

Look at it this way: If you had a child and you wanted him to walk 100 feet and it was on a grassy lawn, no problem. If there were a street that he'd have to cross, then you'd want a traffic light or an adult with him or some regulation to reasonably help keep the 100 foot walk safe.

IF the 100 feet involved walking across a crumbling bridge, well then you shouldn't let him cross it at all, as it was not reasonably safe to do so.

I don't want BIG gov't overseeing everything we do. But neither do I want anarchic "freedom" allowing corporations or people to do whatever they want, willy nilly, regardless of consequences especially to others.

I want a reasoned and responsible and sustainable way of living in community with our neighbors. This means SOME gov't regulation, particularly in areas of common concern (the oceans, our rivers, our ground, our air) and in areas where innocent people might be harmed or killed.

I want the Palins of the world to back off their anarchic and selfish "drill baby drill" irrational approach to gov't.

What's cheapest in the short run is rarely cheapest in the long run.

Doug said...

Did those of you who said "No, wait..." mean, "No, wait. Period." ? Or did you mean "No, wait, we need some rules." ? I'm guessing the latter. Thing is, the rules are in place. It's just that the feds are not enforcing them.

If the former, then yes, if we do that we're ceding control of our economy to, in a number of cases, terrorist sympathizers at worst, or enemies of our country at least.

So the answer isn't more rules that won't be enforced. And I don't think it's what some environmentalists want; stopping domestic drilling. There is a medium that involved enforcement of regulations, existing ones and perhaps some new ones given this current situation, to minimize this danger, something we clearly don't have now, with Republicans and Democrats both to blame. Our government isn't doing what it's being paid to do.

While you're now saying that "Obama owns some responsibility on this point", your original post demarcated solely on a catch-phrase, while giving a P.S. to note a more general blame. But no Democrat managed to get in your sights until I brought it up. And suggesting that those wanting to drill are, merely by definition, "irresponsible" is uncalled for. Those are my main points.

Dan Trabue said...

I repeat my point: IF the path is a crumbling bridge and we can't reasonably expect to cross that safely, then we ought not cross at all.

I don't know enough of the details to say with certainty, but it sounds like to me that drilling for oil IN THE OCEAN, beneath THOUSANDS OF FEET of turbulent water falls under the crumbling bridge category. Deciding to drill there DOES seem to fall under the irresponsible category.

Given the devastation currently happening, how can you think anything else?

Deciding that we can't responsibly drill there is no more "letting the terrorists win" than deciding we won't do other irresponsible things. We don't try to drill for oil using nuclear bombs, either. We don't dig for coal by simply using a shovel and no supports for tunnels. Some things and some places can't reasonably and safely be accessed. To try to get to those simply so we can have more and more and more to burn and go through is irresponsible.

We could easily SAVE more energy than we could possibly get by drilling offshore, I understand, simply by embracing conservative ("good" conservative) energy use measures. Require cars to have higher gas mileage. Build houses suitably insulated. The offshore drilling push is to ignore the safe and reasonable ways in order to allow us to wallow in more, rather than getting by with what we have better.

It is irresponsible when we have other options. Living within our means does not mean we have to be "Luddites" any more than requiring our gov't or households to live within their means requires becoming a Luddite. It simply means, living within your means. Period. And doing so reasonably and responsibly.

As Wendell Berry notes...

"The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependent on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."

Dan Trabue said...


While you're now saying that "Obama owns some responsibility on this point", your original post demarcated solely on a catch-phrase, while giving a P.S. to note a more general blame.

Once again, I think a good many of us are righteously pissed off at the Palins of the world. Yes, we all do own this somewhat. YES, we wouldn't be here at all if we listened more to the environmentalists and less to the Palins.

Again, if someone's going to harp and harp on those opposed to irresponsible methods of energy production, mocking and taunting the rational ones with "drill baby drills" over and over, then I want to see some accountability for those who behaved thusly. They DO have a special measure of responsibility.

Another analogy: In the OT Israel pesters God for a king. "WE WANT A KING!" they moaned and groaned. "WE WANT TO BE LIKE THE OTHER NATIONS!" wah wah wah.

Not all Israelis, of course, but a good number, perhaps the majority.

Eventually God got tired of their bitching and God let them have a king, but first he warned them, "If you choose to have a king, know this: He will tax you, he will draft your sons and daughters into service, into the military to build big armies. You will regret this." Nonetheless, many Israelis in the story demanded a king and God let them have a king.

And, of course, God was right. They lived to regret it.

Now, did ALL of Israel own some responsibility for that? Yes, sure. BUT, I'd say that there was a special debt owed by the bitchers and moaners, for they truly were the ones who brought the disaster upon Israel. If the more Godly had refused to go along with the louder complainers, they might have averted the disastrous results, so they're responsible, too, just to a lesser measure.

Seems to me.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I'm going to use short words for Doug's benefit. It is banal to insist that "no one could predict this particular accident at this particular time" might or could or would happen. Regulations regarding dangerous practices exist not to eliminate but to minimize risk of accidents, catastrophic and otherwise, from happening, under a given set of conditions. No one who supports increased regulation for health, safety, environmental, or economic reasons does so with the notion that this will eliminate risk. It reduces the probability (statistics are a marvelous tool!).

To argue that, since this particular accident at this particular time could not have been predicted, therefore all the regulation in the world, blah, blah, blah misses the simple (to thinking individuals) point that if proper regulations had been in place, enforced by an agency that was competent and not compromised, and the company in question wasn't engaged in trying to repair their damage with the rough equivalent (as I put it elsewhere) of Legos and duct tape, this situation could have been lessened, if not prevented entirely precisely because regulations that exist in other countries do not exist here to address precisely the risk issues involved with drilling as deep, and in such a questionable well, as was done here.

The Obama Administration is, indeed, culpable to the degree that he's in charge, it happened on his watch, etc., etc. I have no argument with that.


Had we not just emerged from an entire generation of people arguing that the free market would take care of problems, that safety, health, and environmental regulations cause more problems than they solve, on and on, I might be less harsh on Republicans and others who insist this has nothing to do with them. Since we have, and I've been listening to people like you argue this same line of crap for my entire adult life, forgive me if I have little patience with it.

Dan Trabue said...


I'm going to use short words for Doug's benefit.

Fellas, I know it can be hard to keep a handle on who's who on the Right in these discussions, but THIS Doug (from Stones Cry Out) and John (formerly of Zeray Gazette) are my webby friends. They may disagree with us but they seldom engage in name-calling or put downs. They just offer differing opinions.

Please try to remember at least these two fellas and not name-call or talk down to them. Just disagree with them, make your point and move on.

Chance - who hasn't commented here in a while - is another reasonably respectful conservative. The regulars (Mark, Marshall, Mom2, Bubba) we know that they engage in name-calling and disrespectful dialog and I'm okay with responding in kind to them, but please be respectful to John and Doug and anyone else who may not have "fired first."


Doug said...

Well, I accept the chiding from Geoffrey, as he is correct that I misread his initial post. I had that one coming to me. :) Moving on, to Geoffrey's points...

To argue that, since this particular accident at this particular time could not have been predicted, therefore all the regulation in the world, blah, blah, blah ...

Except I'm not arguing that. Your point is well taken and that if there are steps we need to take, beyond the obvious ones of enforcing the regs we have already on the books, I'd support it and I daresay you'll find Republicans on-board.

What I do argue against, sometimes, are overly strict regulations that essentially shut down an industry. Making the cost of recovery of anything rival the profit from recovering it means that it won't be done. Wish that some groups would be honest and just introduce legislation to simply ban those things, but they use regulations as their fig leaf.

I hope the use of the term "profit" is OK here. Unfortunately, oil drilling does not work well as a charity.

Doug said...


Deciding to drill there DOES seem to fall under the irresponsible category. Given the devastation currently happening, how can you think anything else?

Hindsight's wonderful, isn't it? It allows us to scold anyone who said that we should drill offshore, whether or not they expected the federal government to properly enforce the rules we set up for such drilling. In fact, their motives and their assumptions don't even have to matter anymore. We can just quote a catch-phrase they used and milk it for all its worth.

Do we need new regs for this sort of drilling? I would imagine so, though it's hard to say, given the lax enforcement of existing ones. But, as I said to Geoffrey, I would support such a move. Do we need new regs for how deep in the water we can go? I'd support looking into that as well. You said, "We don't dig for coal by simply using a shovel and no supports for tunnels", and that's true, but I daresay we had much loss of life as we got better at figuring out how to shore up those tunnels, and we're still not perfect.

Alan said...

"Indeed, if that's you're sole method of assigning blame, then you're right. But are we really that simplistic?"

OK, let me make it more complicated. The executive branch is responsible for regulating these things. The MMS under the previous executive, which was responsible for the regulation of this rig, was found to be "in bed" quite literally, actually, with coal and oil companies.

So yeah, that's one way of assigning blame here.

Sorry to make it so complicated and bring in ... you know ... actual facts and stuff.

Alan said...

BTW, though it should be obvious, I'll explain just in case someone doesn't get it.

The real responsibility here is BP's, and the folks who ran the rig, etc.

But since the Republicans are intent on trying to make this about the Obama administration, I'm simply pointing out that politically, if anyone is responsible, it's them.

But, frankly, I think the political finger pointing is asinine. The bigger question is what do we do now to help all the people whose lives will be ruined by this.

Oh... People?! You mean people were affected? Yeah, I know the republicans have forgotten that in their effort to be the first to point fingers ...

Edwin Drood said...

Why do people who don't support drilling and are unwilling to take the risks associated with oil drive cars, heat their homes, buy plastic stuff etc? Sounds hypocritical to me.

I for one have no problem accepting the fact that these things happen, nothing made by man is foolproof. I drive with a clear conscience

Dan Trabue said...

1. For my part, I mostly walk places. I walk to work and to church, the two places I go most frequently.

2. Beyond that, I advocate setting up systems that would require less personal driving. We DESIGNED a system that depends upon the personal auto, subsidizing car companies, oil companies and individual motorists as we did so. I advocate moving AWAY from designing our cities in such a manner and towards designing our cities and lives in such a manner that we don't "need" a car.

3. I try to avoid buying plastic stuff. Hard as hell to do, these days. If I have access to the same product from two suppliers - one that uses plastic or excessive plastic and another that uses cardboard, I'll buy the cardboard product every time.

4. You are correct (heard it here first, folks), Edwin, that our choices impact what our gov't and our markets provide. We need to demand more sustainable energy sources, reduce usage, design our society and lives so that it does not encourage excessive usage. We need to demand that markets quit wrapping (and rewrapping) everything in plastic. We need to vote with our pocketbooks.

5. The reason that so many people depend upon fossil fuels (even those of us who would like to move away from its overuse and our addiction to it) is because we have DESIGNED our society so that it is practically required. The more we demand responsible fossil fuel extraction, the more the costs of "cheap oil, gas, coal" will go up to reflect something more like their ACTUAL costs and the more we will change our lifestyles.

We designed our lives and society this way largely due to the corrupting influence of money on our gov't - car companies, oil companies, coal companies, etc, wormed their way into our gov't and got our representatives to set them up this sweet deal where the American population just about HAD to go the way of overconsumption/hyperconsumption of finite resources.

6. To the point of this post: Why do people who claim to be "conservative" like to spend and consume as if there's no tomorrow: Pushing costs off on the poor, the elderly, the sick, the marginalized and on God's creation?

Sounds hypocritical to me. Sounds as if they know nothing about actually conserving.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Doug and Dan - if I got a tad heated, I apologize. Quite tired of listening to blathers like the late post by Drood, and shot my mouth off before thinking. Sorry.

On Doug's point about Republicans supporting some regulations - not in this Congress with this President. If Obama offered a non-binding resolution stating that the sky is blue, they would oppose it. That's the way they roll.

Edwin - I support oil drilling, natural gas drilling - the area around my hometown is now ground zero for the largest natural gas exploration and drilling extravaganza in the country at the moment, and it is keeping a chronically economically depressed area alive, and surprisingly not getting help from state and federal regulators and legislators.

What I do not support is unregulated, chancy drilling in a situation where the alleged regulator is compromised, the regulations that exist are inadequate to address the potential threats, and people such as yourself who seem to think that supporting reasonable restrictions on resource exploitation, especially in marginal areas, is akin to being brave, when actually it is stupid. More precisely, it is agnotological (meaning actively pursuing a course of action without any reference to any relevant knowledge or understanding, and refusing to acknowledge it when it comes to light; I've written about it recently, check it out).

As for the "hypocritical" tag - ooo, I feel scolded.

One last point, back to Doug. As soon as I find an industry that has gone under because of regulation, organized labor, and taxation, I'll let you know.

Alan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Alan said...

Here's the thing, Eddie... If there's a risk associated with an activity, and you do more of that activity, the risk increases. If you do less of that activity, it decreases.

So, we can decrease the risk of accidents during drilling by drilling less. And people who are concerned about these risks, believe we should drill less.

Where in "Drill baby drill!!!" is any evidence of any concern for anyone or anything whatsoever? No where. Where, in all of the McCain/Palin campaigning regarding reopening offshore drilling did they spend time talking about the risks? No where.

But when it comes to these risks, you couldn't care less about people losing their jobs. As long as you can drive you're fine with it.

But unlike you, we aren't such selfish b@stards.

Glad I could clear things up for you. Now I'm sure you have lots of gay pride parade pictures to look at on the internet, so why don't you run along and let the adults have a conversation.

Dan Trabue said...

Doug, if you're still around: Do you really think that those who advocated "drill, baby, drill" ought have no remorse for such outspoken demands for offshore drilling and for mocking those who disagreed?

Doug said...


One last point, back to Doug. As soon as I find an industry that has gone under because of regulation, organized labor, and taxation, I'll let you know.

How many nuclear plants have been built since 1979? Not gone under, since we always have the technology available, so it can't truly "go under", but it can be stopped in its tracks.

Doug said...

Dan: Do you really think that those who advocated "drill, baby, drill" ought have no remorse for such outspoken demands for offshore drilling and for mocking those who disagreed?

Remorse for suggesting we should drill offshore? Again, you sound like you're saying that anyone who ever suggested we do it, regardless of whether or not they even supported deep-water drilling, or if they assumed the federal government would, y'know, do its job, they ought to renounce it completely.

For a statement from Palin, see here.

Now I have a couple questions for you. Should we stop all off-shore drilling? Consider that environmentalists don't want rigs so close to shore and so they have to be out in deeper waters, where it's more dangerous. Ought those environmentalists have "remorse" for their requirements that off-shore drilling be, thus, done in such deep waters?

Alan said...

Actually most of the people who want rigs way off shore are shore business and tourist folks.

John said...

Well, I'm arriving late to the game.

In his post, Dan makes a damn good argument. I myself was all "Drill, Baby, Drill", and offshore oil drilling now appears to have gone very, very badly in this case.

I would like to point out that the argument does cut both ways. A few examples (which may or may not apply to Dan specifically) that come immediately to mind:

1. If you supported the international ban on DDT, you should compensate one African family for the loss of one child who died of malaria -- whatever price that that family sets.

2. If you opposed the expansion of domestic production of nuclear energy in the US, you must pay the annual electric bill for one family that is unable to do so.

3. If you opposed the production of genetically-modified food crops, you should compensate one African family for the loss of one child who died of malnutrition -- whatever price that family sets.

That's just off the top of my head, and related to environmental issues. We could go on and on about many non-environmental controversies, such as gun control, that people have been wrong about. We could insist on personal responsibility. And then we'd all be screwed, because we've all been wrong about something important.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Doug, your point about nuke plants after TMI is actually highly relevant. The reason for greater scrutiny of nuke plans, etc. is simple enough - even with all the safety devices in place, a nuclear power plant is a horror-in-waiting. Even the French, who use nuclear power for municipal production, have periodic leaks and accidents, so common they aren't even recorded. I live about 50 miles from a nuclear power plant, in Byron, IL, and will tell you that it scares the dickens out of me because, as someone whose brother has worked as a consulting engineer on these places, I can tell you without equivocation they are a hazard. Just consider the simple reality they generate waste in the form of spent fuel rods that are a threat for thousand of years in to the future, and all the blather about them being environment-friendly disappears.

Of course, this all begs the question, I suppose, of how we are able simultaneously to generate enough power to maintain advanced industrial society in a way that is not potentially or actually hazardous to the environment. I suppose the answer is there isn't, at least not in the near term. Techno folks, I suppose, are willing to allow themselves to get all excited over all sorts of stuff like nuclear fusion, which is endothermic (it takes more energy to produce a reaction than the reaction produces in return, and the reaction is unstable), or hydrogen-cell technology for cars, but for the most part decisions about power-generation are only partially technological.

In the end, they are political, which means final decisions rest with those in power, based less on serious contemplation of trade-offs and more on influence and prior commitments.

Many on the right actually figure that, since there isn't any "safe" way to generate the power necessary to keep the US as a thriving industrial nation, we might as well shrug our shoulders and let the chips - and oil, and fuel rods, and mining slag and sludge, and on and on - fall or leak or flow or be dumped wherever. It seems to me, however, that adult human beings actually understand that choices involve not only compromise but accept reasonable restrictions on their actions in the face of potentially catastrophic consequences for doing any action that poses a risk to life and the surrounding environment. You won't read or hear that, though, in the current political climate because there just isn't a recognition that these kinds of things need to be discussed. It's either drill, baby, drill or become some medieval state.

Alan said...

Nice one, John. LOL

Or at least it would be, if any of us weren't clever enough to figure out that there are plenty of ways of solving any of those problems that do not require your particular solutions.

Here in the real world, there are often multiple solutions to problems, which may have different costs and benefits. DDT, for example, is not the only way to end malaria.