America is now into the second month of the worst environmental disaster in the country's history. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is estimated to be leaking at a rate of 12 thousand (BP's estimate) and 100 thousand (independent scientists' upper-end estimate) barrels of oil a day. With each barrel, further destruction is wrought on the economies and ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico.
The images coming from the Gulf are truly disturbing. Fisherman find themselves at a BP dole-line instead of pulling up shrimp cages, while brown pelicans -- no longer listed as an endangered species -- are carried away in hazmat bags to be washed or buried. It is simply tragic.
A question though: would you be disgusted if political leaders and media talking heads told you that the Deepwater Horizon spill was a hoax, propagated by the liberal media, conspiring scientists, and irrational environmentalists?
Because that is exactly what is happening with a far bigger spill. Have you heard about it? In March of 2010, the oil portion of this spill was gushing at a rate of 85 million barrels a day, 19 million of which came from the US. The UN estimates that if this spill goes unchecked it will produce 150 million environmental refugees and exact an economic cost of 20% of worldwide GDP. Whole ecosystems and species will be decimated by salt-water intrusion, desertification, flooding, invasive species, and snowpack loss.
With this spill we don't have the excuse of pointing to a third party or blaming the cozy relationship between the regulators and the regulated. We've been warned by the world's top scientists that inaction is a recipe for catastrophe. Yet many sit idle, supporting the lunacy of developing technology to drill five miles deep in the ocean versus investing in the infrastructure and supporting the policies that will stop the spill.
What's the difference between this spill and Deepwater Horizon? It's a fossil fuel spill in gaseous form. It does not generate the same eye-catching imagery as lighting fires on the waters of the Atlantic. Its intangibility makes it all to easy to ignore. It flows invisibly from every automobile tailpipe, coal stack chimney, and jet airplane. Plugging it will require innovation, international cooperation, and yes, higher costs.
But we can stop this gusher known as climate change. We are the relief well. We are the innovators, the leaders, the citizens, who must take action. It's not the coast guard, it's not BP, it's us. So get involved.