Here's a novel, almost taboo, idea: The oil spill happened because it was bound (even likely) to happen, and oil-related catastrophes are going to keep happening in the near future. This is fact.
Sure, after the calamity, we can point fingers and say BP failed to do this, or that, but as Paul Roberts, the author of End of Oil, explained in a recent Grist interview, risks are inherent in the oil industry, just as they are in any other:
What's really tough here is that even if we find that it was operator error, and we impose fines and pass new laws and make that particular error less likely to recur, we're still faced with a system in which there is a strong probability for error or breakdown. Humans make mistakes. Machinery wears down. A lot of environmentalists say these kinds of risks simply aren't acceptable, and at the end of the day, that may be true. Certainly, this spill is going to bolster the argument that the risks inherent in the modern offshore oil system simply aren't tolerable risks and, more fundamentally, that we need to move away from oil. Already, you hear that argument from a lot of greens. The problem is, even if we decide that the risks are too great, what's our plan B? At present, our economy is completely dependent on oil. And the truth is, we don't really have a plan B.No matter what, the Deepwater Horizon spill boils down to a culmination of human error. On the immediate level, it was a direct miscalculation on the part of industry members to avoid the mishap. On a more universal level, the disaster was a manifestation of humanity's propensity to trust in its own judgment and undertakings, believing in a self-indulged sense of security and safety.
It's a wake-up call. We've been doing things wrong this whole time, and oil rigs are simply accidents waiting to happen.
Photo (cc) via Flickr user Canon in 2D