Today some personal commentary regarding the Gulf Coast oil spill with an evolutionary eye towards what lessons we can take from this event to move us to a positive future. I recognize that we don’t realize yet just how catastrophic this disaster might end up being, but I don’t think it’s too soon to start thinking about what we can learn from it.
As of this writing, oil is still coming out of the hole in the ocean, surface efforts to contain the oil slick appear not to be working totally as oil is being detected in Louisiana marshlands, and BP says it will pay for all cleanup costs. The federal government is overseeing BP’s efforts and President Obama has just toured the area. News reports indicate that it may still be days before the leak is stopped and months before the well is totally capped. Some dire predictions have come out regarding the environmental impact on the Gulf Coast, the economic impact on the fishing industry, potential problems up the Mississippi River, potential for the oil slick to float around Florida and head up the East Coast, and how oil prices will rise in the United States. Time will tell just how accurate these predictions are. Let’s all continue to pray for the best.
Even at this early stage, there are some lessons we can draw from this world event that might direct our thoughts and actions as we continue to focus our mental and emotional energy upon it. What follows are some of my personal random and preliminary thoughts on a positive response that each of us individually might consider (and humanity collectively) as it relates to this tragedy. My intention is to be positive, not political. I would love your thoughts.
- Immediately, our attention should be on stopping the leak, protecting the environment, and protecting people and their economic livelihood. Let’s focus our energies on positive actions and not on blame. Be aware of and turn away from any news coverage that spends excessive time focusing on such negative activity. Yes, let’s hold BP accountable financially for the cleanup, but beyond that beware of any news organization whose focus is turning this into a political issue. Watch out for friends who want to engage you in conversation that turns this into political or corporation bashing. Turn away from the negative and towards the desired positive.
- The reality is humanity needs energy to live and thrive. Historians have pointed out that as humanity and its social systems have evolved, the energy requirements to maintain one person has grown. We needed less energy when we were hunters and gatherers than we did when we moved into an agrarian society. As we moved to cities and evolved through the industrial age into the information age, our energy needs per person have continued to increase. Energy needs around the world continue to rise. Recently, the Obama administration announced its energy plans for the upcoming future. It’s mixture of focusing on green technology while expanding offshore drilling appeared to please no one. Environment groups were disappointed over the expansion of extracting oil offshore while the “drill baby drill” group were disappointed that certain areas were kept off limits. I found it ironic at the time that Obama’s efforts to utilize all available energy sources and balance the desires at each end of the energy political spectrum met such resistance. The attempts to please everyone, appeared to please no one. What’s my point here? One, humanity needs energy and an ever-growing rate. Two, we need to let go of our extreme differences (and our emotional anger when things aren’t exactly what we want) and come together to find practical solutions that meet our energy needs, our environmental needs and our economic needs. Turn away from arguing and towards solutions.
- The recent announcement of the expansion of offshore drilling included references to how much more safely this can be done now. I was pleased that the President announced an intention to revisit that expansion in light of the current crisis. No matter where we fall individually on the issue of offshore drilling, we should all agree that learning safety lessons from the current oil spill is essential. Should this event mean that we immediately eliminate any expansion of offshore oil drilling? If you immediately stated an unqualified “yes” or “no”, then there is a good chance you are so locked in your political opinion on the issue that you are not open to a potentially higher possibility. I’ll be honest, I tend to lean towards the “no drilling group”. My desire is to see us move towards a higher use of renewable energy that has lower environmental risks. Yet I understand the difficulties in moving immediately away from oil in the short-term. I do believe in the long-term we need to wean ourselves off of oil. What I’m asking you to consider, no matter what your political opinion, is to see that our revisiting the safety of offshore drilling is an important step, yet we still need to consider all potential energy sources. What is ultimately most important, is that each of us individually move off of any polarizing political opinion and move towards an openness that seeks solutions for our highest good.
- Once again, we can see from these events how everything is interrelated. We need energy, companies provide oil. Oil spills, harming the environment. People’s jobs and the economy are impacted. Energy prices go up, prices of other goods and services go up. Animals are harmed leading to a loss of species important ecological balance of life. We watch the news and form opinions and have emotional reactions. I could go on and on. One important lesson to take from all of this is that we are all connected, events like this impact us all no matter where we are, we are all in this together.
- Finally, let’s each individually be open to ways in which we can support those who are impacted by this disaster. As the events unfold and we learn as to the extent fishermen and others may be economically impacted, how wildlife may be harmed and so on, let each of us be open to giving of our time, our talents and our money as necessary to reach out in support those in need.
What positive lessons have you learned from this event?
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