In The Curse of Black Gold: Lest we should forget (https://theglottalstop.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/the-curse-of-black-gold-lest-we-should-forget/) posted on the 7th of June, The Glottal Stop issued a rather poignant reminder of the dangers of trying to accommodate insatiable demands for fuel and the human and environmental costs of going further and further in the search for more black gold.
We’ll, did we forget? Remarkably, yes. Because of the demand for fuel in America, the moratorium that Obama imposed on deep drilling was always unlikely to last long; polls suggest that Americans don’t support it. But already, a court in New Orleans has declared the moratorium ‘unlawful’, paving the way for oil giants to resume their hazardous search for the last barrel. How long until the the US oil spill crisis become a distant memory; before it becomes just another blotch in the pages of history?
I wish I had foresight…
“Oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills” is the tune that Obama sang as he opened up more of US waters to drilling only 18 days prior to the explosion on the BP oil rig. Granted, he’s cautious, telling us that oil rigs ‘generally’ don’t cause spills, but it is a sound bite that has come back to bight him.
The Curse of Black Gold: Lest we should forget
In 1859 a retired railway worker named Colonel Edwin Drake developed the idea that oil could be extracted from the ground using wells. At Titusville, Pennsylvania, he bored a hole to a depth of 69 feet and got the world’s first ‘gusher’. It was quickly realised that petroleum in volume could be used not just for medical reasons (for example, it was originally used in medicines for the treatment of different ailments), but could be refined into lucrative products like paraffin and kerosene.
After that discovery, Western Pennsylvania boomed inordinately. In three months the ‘Pithole city’ (as John Mcphee, author of ‘suspect terrain’, so aptly named it) went from a population of 0 to 15,000. For a while Pennsylvania had a virtual monopoly on one of the world’s most valuable resources, oil, and it was dominant also in the production of coal. Many people became colossally rich, Pennsylvania prospered, and there began the developed world’s demand for oil. A demand that grew, and grew and grew. But it soon became clear, that satisfying this demand brought its dangers, disasters and uncertainties.