May 10, 2010
On April 20, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers were killed. A 396-foot ultra-sophisticated deepwater drilling rig burned and sank. None of the safety mechanisms worked. A gusher of crude oil erupted and, unchecked, began to pollute tens of thousands of square miles of ocean.
After 15 days, BP managed one partial emergency measure: a hastily constructed box which, even if totally successful, would have trapped only 80% of the gusher. But it seems to have failed.
Stopping the gusher at its source will take at least three months by anyone’s estimate. Maybe much more.
BP says it will pay for damages. This is as believable as any other oil company’s promise! BP did not rack up its billions of dollars of profits per quarter, year after year, by spending money on cleaning up the environment!
Will they willingly provide enough money to compensate for all the livelihoods that will be lost, more or less permanently – the livelihoods of everyone along the Gulf Coast whose jobs depend on the ocean, its resources and the shorelines? As of May 7, a polluted area the size of Massachusetts was already closed to fishing.
Don’t even talk about putting the entire food chain, from plankton to shrimp to sea turtles and tuna, back the way it was.
Will the government require BP and Transocean and Halliburton to use the full resources of their wealth to clean up every last bit of oil and dispersants on the surface, and then to mount a permanent guard until the very last of the vast scum of oil is gone from the sea floor?
No, BP’s pollution will be around a long, long time. The Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of crude in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989. Still today, 21 years later, the fishing industry there is dead, and oil coats the undersea rocks.
Every major industry in this capitalist system abuses the environment in its rush for profitability. Capitalism pollutes the planet.
The air is polluted – so much so that more than half the U.S. population lives in counties with heavy air pollution and its attendant lung diseases. This is according to the American Lung Association.
Uncontrolled chemical residues are everywhere. The President’s Cancer Panel, citing the fact that 41% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point, notes that more than 80,000 potentially dangerous chemicals are used in the U.S. but only a few hundred are regulated. Babies in the U.S. are “born pre-polluted” through the mothers’ umbilical cords.
Industry kills 5,000 workers in this country every year, and 60,000 more die from industry- caused disease.
The forces polluting the planet and destroying human life are not mysterious. The limitless greed of the world’s capitalist class pushes these billionaires to relentlessly exploit natural resources, wherever and however they might be extracted, regardless of the consequences. Profits are the capitalists’ only measure.
Protecting the environment cuts into profits – so the capitalists won’t pay. They leave the world’s populations to live in the pollution and bear all the costs, while they race off to the next profit gusher.
There is no way to protect the planet and restore the environment except to sweep the capitalist system itself, with its destructive race for profit, into the landfill.