Writing in the Nation Michael Klare believes that the catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico from BP's leaking oil rig is likely to be the greatest ecological disaster in human history. Michael Klare*, who is Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, is one of the world's leading analysts of global energy and resource politics.
"....whether or not the immediate trigger of the explosion is ever fully determined, there can be no mistaking the underlying cause: a government-backed corporate drive to exploit oil and natural gas reserves in extreme environments under increasingly hazardous operating conditions........ To ensure a continued supply of hydrocarbons—and the continued prosperity of the giant energy companies—successive administrations have promoted the exploitation of these extreme energy options with a striking disregard for the resulting dangers"
Michael Klare, The Relentless Pursuit of Extreme Energy
Although BP continues to minimize the amount of oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon rig, Klare estimates that the amount of oil spilt is equivalent to an Exxon Valdez spill every 4 days. The destruction is catastrophic and probably irreparable.
The Gulf seafood industry, which provides much of the seafood consumed in the US, has been destroyed, perhaps forever. The oil has poisoned the water of the Gulf, depriving it of oxygen and killing entire classes of marine species and living creatures. Whole marine and coastal landscapes have been destroyed, likely to never recover.
Klare identifies a host of actors who bear responsibility. BP is the ultimate villain. BP, whose environmental and safety record is appalling, has used its financial and political power to protect itself from regulatory oversight. It has bought off political and regulatory bodies and avoided all forms of accountability and scrutiny. Its response to the spill has been inept.
Various contractors- Halliburton, Transocean, Cameron International- as well as government instrumentalities such as the USA Minerals Management Service, have all breached legislative and regulatory requirements
Ultimately though Klare argues, responsibility for the catastrophe lies with the Bush and Obama administrations. Klare writes
"...there can be no mistaking the underlying cause: a government-backed corporate drive to exploit oil and natural gas reserves in extreme environments under increasingly hazardous operating conditions"Klare believes that the world has entered an even more dangerous period where disasters like this one will occur more frequently and will be more destructive. Klare argues that as long as the major resources and energy firms continue to rest future profits on exploring and drilling in ever-deeper waters and more risky locations—and governments collude with them in this—more catastrophes are inevitable. Worse, the oil and energy companies do not have the existing technologies to respond adequately to the new challenges.
*Michael Klare's latest book is Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy