So what if the waiter spit in your soup? The amount of spit is tiny compared to the amount of soup in your bowl.
So what if there’s arsenic in the water? The amount of arsenic is tiny compared to the amount of water in the municipal supply.
So what? Well, I for one wouldn’t want to eat that soup or drink that water, despite assurances that the good stuff is in more abundance than the bad stuff. Would you?
Incredibly, this is basically the argument being advanced by BP CEO Tony Hayward, who recently told the UK Guardian of the BP Deepwater Disaster oil spill in an attempt to play down the impact of the oil spill on Gulf ecosystems: “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
Some 5 million gallons of oil have spilled so far — and that’s based on conservative estimates of the rate at which oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. And BP has reportedly used an “estimated 400,000 gallons” of dispersant — itself a highly toxic and dangerous substance — to try and cover its tracks.
Several attempts by BP to stem the flow of the oil have failed, so Hayward is touting the use of dispersants as a major success by BP because it has kept the oil from washing ashore in “large amounts.” Of course, as we’ve been reporting, this is only a good thing for BP, because images of the oil washing up on beaches and coating wildlife such as sea birds who are currently nesting in the delicate ecosystems of the Gulf’s shoreline would compound the damage to the company’s already beleaguered public image.
In reality, the dispersant and the oil are both toxic and are both poisoning fish, which the seabirds need to eat. Funny thing about an ecosystem is that everything is interconnected, and you can’t do harm to one part without effecting the rest. But that, apparently, is no concern of Tony Hayward’s.
The truth is, Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems will be dealing with the effects of this oil spill for generations to come. The real extent of the damage won’t be known for some time, but it’s sure to be disastrous. Livelihoods are already being lost, dolphins and other marine mammals are already turning up dead on beaches — and it’s only just begun.
Try as he might, there is no way for Tony Hayward to minimize the impact of his company’s negligence in this case. And it’s only a matter of time before the next oil spill — which could be even more disastrous if it occurred in a place that is far more fragile and hard to reach, such as the Arctic. It’s time Congress took serious action to end our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and usher in a new era of clean, green renewable energy.