Friday, June 25, 2010

Who's Responsible for the Gulf Oil Spill?

I am responsible for a small part of fossil fuel usage and the joys and the sorrows that come with it. You are too.

I not only like the heat, the cool, the light, the electricity, the food, the medicine, the products, and the freedom and travel mobility that comes with modern life, I LOVE it. I think we all do.

It's fantastic. And that must mean that crude oil (and coal) is fantastic stuff, because in part it makes this lifestyle possible.

Even if we didn't crudely burn crude's products for heat or heat engines, we use it for many other things, notably energy and cost-SAVING infrastructure. Things you want to do once and forget about for 300 years. Buried plastic utility pipe and conduit, hidden from its Achilles heel, UV light, is a perfect usage and makes plastic's non-biodegradability an asset.

Oil-based foams make excellent insulation which is not only infrastructure but it's IN your structure (hidden from UV), and will save tremendous amounts of fossil or other fuels for generations to come.

Instead of burning so much of it as fuel, we can turn more of it into plastic, but not in the form of disposable toys, gadgets and (over) packaging products to be permanently entombed in landfills, but to be utilized as permanent infrastructure.

Does oil exist not to be used? Is the oil that happens to exist in places where it is challenging to extract and ecologically sensitive, not to be used?

Redundant safety systems need to be mandated. The Exxon Valdez ushered in the era of the double-hulled tanker, ground water contamination brought us both the double-walled underground gasoline storage tank and the double-lined landfill (double lined with EPDM oil-based membranes BTW...), and this latest oil well catastrophe you would THINK might introduce the double, triple or quadruple shut-off valve ! (How about pairing a MANUAL shut-off when the automatic fails, with a PRE-made diving robot whose sole job is to dive, dock and turn valves?)

Let's work through the process of lamenting, despairing, chasing the guilty, prosecuting the scapegoats, and bayoneting the wounded. Simultaneously let's get the leak plugged, the mess cleaned up (and of course it'll take many years), and do a better job with petro-plumbing in the future. Because despite advances in alternative energy sources, oil is going to be with us for many decades. We want and need it, but we can be not only smarter with how we obtain it, but in how we utilize it.

No comments:

Post a Comment