Mr. President: Smarten up about oil

The disastrous BP oil well a mile deep underwater in the Gulf of Mexico is an expression of folly, of lust for profit and cheap oil to power the industrial machine. Drilling approved and self-policed after assurances of safety. Back-up remote shutoff deemed unnecessary, The Wall Street Journal reports.How fortunate that President Obama had just approved expanded offshore drilling. The deal was support for oil, coal, nukes, even efficiency and renewables, in exchange for an omnibus energy bill where no oxen are gored. Now, all Obama can offer us is a pause in new oil leases. Obama became the passionless pusher of pollution, self-confident in his slaughterhouse realist logic, cannot face the camera and say they lied.Obama cannot tell the truth – that, by pursuing business as usual, we are destroying our green earth and our futures. He, apparently, cannot gather the courage to announce from now on we must pursue sustainability as an imperative for peace, prosperity and ecological survival. Win or lose, that’s the worthy political battle. Truth and hope is what gives free people courage to stand in front of tanks.We have the technology. Wind farms, solar farms and other renewables connected by an inherently balancing continental grid, can power heat pumps for heating and cooling and electric vehicles with their millions of batteries acting as energy storage. The investment will be enormously profitable. What we don’t have is the leadership and the political will.Instead, faced with catastrophe, Obama has climbed into the oil barrel, unwilling to offer more than basically marginal change. The Obama energy plan will try to help keep oil affordable and drilling and profit going full bore for generations to come. Obama will help keep us driving our cars burning gasoline distilled from that crude.BP, whose profits last quarter alone were $5.6 billion, can spend a fraction of that on “cleanup.” Their lawyers, I suppose are confident that, like Exxon, with Supreme Court help that they can stop real trouble and liability for the destruction of the $250 billion-a-year Gulf fishing industry, tourism industry, the lifeways of Gulf communities, and, of course, the unvalued life of billions of living creatures and ecosystems.Managing the oil catastrophe, Obama has proved his worth as he did bailing out Goldman Sachs and friends, and making Afghanistan his war. There are, of course, other, more enduring and moral courses. The smartest guy in the room should smarten up. Mr. President, it’s not too late.Roy Morrison, director of the Office for Sustainability at Southern New Hampshire University, is author of the upcoming book, “Sustainability and Ecological Civilization.”

Categories: Opinion