Monday, May 24, 2010

The Gulf Oil Disaster

It breaks my heart when I see the oil floating in the water in the Gulf of Mexico and coming ashore to pollute the wetlands, marshes and beaches that border on the Gulf. This is a tragedy that, I believe, could have been avoided with a little foresight and planning. Several thoughts come to mind in that regard:

Corporations are profit-making organizations, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Without a profit, there is no return on investment, and eventually the company goes out of business. However, profit must not be the only consideration for a company. A corporation must consider the welfare of its employees, the good of the nation, keeping the environment unpolluted, treating its vendors fairly, and giving its customers value for their money. In other words, corporate citizens have multiple constituencies and they need to consider all of them.

I suspect BP took shortcuts on this oil-drilling rig, causing the blowout that resulted in the oil gushing from the broken pipe under the water. That means BP let profit drive its decisions and neglected one or more of its constituencies. It also means that the government didn’t do its job in inspecting these rigs and insuring they are operating safely. We have seen a very similar situation with the recent coal mine disaster in West Virginia.

Knowing underwater oil drilling is tricky, dangerous, and carries the risk of an environmental disaster, one has to ask, Why wouldn’t oil companies draw up contingency plans to deal with such an event? BP seemed not to know what to do. Why wouldn’t companies develop technologies to contain such oil leakages if they should occur? It seems now BP is making it up as it goes along rather than being adequately prepared for such an event, unlikely as they may have thought it would be. Because BP didn’t prepare and probably didn’t care, innocent people along the coast are losing their livelihoods and tremendous damage is being done to the coastline.

Not having plans, not being prepared, and assuming the best rather than the worst do have costs. BP will pay dearly, as it should, but so will a lot of innocent people. I hope both this oil disaster and the West Virginia mine tragedy will wake up companies and the government. While I hate more government intrusion, it is obvious companies can’t police themselves and can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Look at all the violations that coal mining company had, and now those innocent miners are dead because the company didn’t care. Not only must the government have more rigorous inspections, but there must be enforcement.

Lastly, we in the United States have abandoned God and have made technology and science our god. Well look what technology has done for us recently. It failed on the oil rig that exploded, and it hasn’t come up with a quick way to stop the oil. Technology didn’t prevent the mine explosion and keep those miners from dying. Let me suggest that we start worshipping God again and not the false gods of science and technology. Science and technology are useful but we must always keep them in the proper perspective. They aren’t perfect, but God is. You may ask why God allows such tragedies, but that’s a different topic. We can’t blame God for man-made disasters, or natural disasters made much worse by human foolishness, greed, or sin.

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