Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

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As Goes the Oil Spill, So Goes Climate Change

6/18/2010 3:12:18 PM

Tags: Keith Goetzman, environment, climate change, oil spill, BP oil spill, environmental disaster, politics, energy, Bradford Plumer, The New Republic

If the BP oil spill were a practice drill for an even larger environmental disaster—say, out-of-control climate change—our society and particularly our leaders have failed the drill with their ineffective response. Bradford Plumer of The New Republic describes what “absolutely terrifies” him about the spill:

What’s especially unnerving … is that the recklessness that helped bring about the spill, and the political reaction that followed, seem to indicate a larger inability to prevent and cope with other large-scale ecological catastrophes—particularly climate change. … With both the oil spill and climate change, there seems to be a lingering sense that technology can come along and save us if things ever get too ominous. … And yet, as we’ve seen with the flailing cleanup efforts in the Gulf, there’s not always a technological solution. Nature, once despoiled, can’t always be fixed. Sometimes disaster strikes and there’s simply nothing we (or even James Cameron) can do. What’s more, when dealing with complex ecological systems, quick fixes can often make the situation worse. The chemical dispersants that BP is using to break up the surface oil could end up wreaking havoc on the food chain on the seafloor—no one really knows. Likewise, we have little idea about whether those wacky geoengineering schemes could end up, say, disrupting rainfall patterns around the globe.

Source: The New Republic

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