If anything is going to cause more long-term damage to the planet than the gallons of oil being spewed out by the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster, it’s the toxic clouds of posturing cant and alarmist drivel billowing forth daily from environmentalists. Most especially from their cheerleader in the White House, Barack Obama.
Barack Obama’s behaviour throughout this oil crisis has been a disgrace – but not for the reasons given by all those watermelons who have taxed him with not having done enough to stop the flow or punish BP. (Yeah, he should have declared war on Britain, that’s what he should have done! And imprisoned everyone who works at BP in Gitmo! And then nuked every Big Oil company in the world just for good measure!)
Rather, his crime has been to pander to the worst excesses of the environmental left – and cynically to exploit a private Louisianan tragedy in order to advance his personal eco-socialist agenda.
Until the happy accident (happy for Obama and his chums in the green movement, that is, though not for anyone else) of Deepwater Horizon, the Obama administration’s plans to introduce Cap and Trade were dead in the water. Obama had had enough trouble pushing through his health care reforms. No way was the Senate going to vote for an ill-thought-out, massively expensive scheme – riddled with holes and special concessions to favoured business interests – to tax US business and consumers for the amount of a harmless gas they produced, especially not in the midst of a recession.
But as Obama’s chief hatchet man Rahm Emanuel says: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” And Obama hasn’t done. As well as affording him a chance to indulge, with all the dignity and responsibility of a Mugabe-style dictator, in one of his favourite sports – Brit Bashing – it has given him just the excuse he needed to rail against the fossil-fuel industry which Cap and Trade will supposedly help destroy so that we may all live happily ever after in clean, happy cities powered entirely by the wind and the sun.
The WSJ Online has his measure: (hat tip: Austin Closs)
As with health care, the strategy is to ram the thing through by any means necessary. Amid a revolt against government excess, and a rising liberal panic about November losses, Democrats understand that the political window for their green ambitions is closing. Without any policy concessions to the public mood, they’ve simply decided that they haven’t done enough to convince voters how great their plans are.
Wednesday’s speech was a preview of this new rhetorical campaign: The Gulf crisis will replace the artist formerly known as the climate bill. “The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century,” Mr. Obama said, throwing in some banalities about GOP narrow-mindedness and dependence on foreign oil at no extra charge. BP will play the political foil, like the insurer WellPoint did during the health-care debate.
Hardly any less nauseating and cynical, though, has been the glee with which the tragedy has been salivatingly reported by environmental correspondents. Boy, there’s nothing they like more than a juicy oil spill: all those moving pictures of tarry seabirds (though of course a manatee, if you can find one, would be better); all those political cartoons to be published captioned “the price of oil”; all the column inches to be filled with heart-rending accounts of just how much damage will be done to the “fragile eco-system”.
Can we please get a sense of perspective here? Of course the tragedy is a disaster for all who have been exposed to it. We all feel as sorry for Lousianan shrimpers and beach cafe owners and birdwatchers as we would for the victims of any tragedy – be it terrorism or a horrible train crash. But the idea that there is any bigger ecological moral to be drawn from this is as poisonous as it is stupid. You might as well argue the next time there’s a big motorway pile up: “Right. That’s it. The time has come to ban forever this wheeled death machine we call the motor car!”
We need oil. There is no substitute for it. It tends, increasingly, to be found in remote places where it is harder to drill. Sometimes there will be accidents. This is why oil companies like BP make so much money: it is a function of the risks they take drilling for the stuff and of the intense global demand for this vital resource.
Finally, we need a bit of a perspective. As one of my favourite commenters, the brilliant AN Ditchfield pointed out the other day:
The Obama administration qualifies the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as the worst environmental disaster in history. In this they show a short memory and a dim grasp of arithmetic. In World II five million tons of petroleum were cast into the Atlantic (about 32 million barrels of oil) from tanker ships sunk by Nazi submarines, in a period from 1942 to 1945, and with heavy concentration in the fateful year of 1942. Averaged over 1000 days the loss is equivalent to two to five times the oil now spilled into the Gulf of Mexico – every day – for the duration of the war.