Pin It
Favorite

Gojira in the Gulf 

In the technological age, the scariest monsters are of our own creation.

click to enlarge art15194.jpg

In the technological age, the scariest monsters are of our own creation. Back in the 1950s, we were tinkering with powers we barely understood as we tested atomic bombs out in the Paciic Ocean. In the imaginations of a team of Japanese ilmmakers — men who knew the power of the atom all too well — that folly created Gojira, a giant lizard that rose from the sea to wreak havoc.

Somehow humans were able to defeat the monster we know as Godzilla in 96 minutes of screen time, but our own undersea beast is going to take a lot longer than that to conquer. And this time, the devastation is all too real.

As one of Godzilla’s creators, Tomoyuki Tanaka, put it, “As long as the arrogance of mankind exists, Godzilla will survive.”

But the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is beyond arrogance. It’s an even more explosive brew that assumes greed is good while humility in the face of nature is for suckers.

We ignore common sense as we test the depths of Mother Nature’s mysteries. Most of us know these things should be done with the worst-case scenario always in mind, but British Petroleum never thought there’d be a problem drilling a mile underwater. Smack in the middle of a rich fishery. Surrounded by miles of sensitive coastline. In Canada, oil companies are required to drill the kinds of relief wells BP is now scrambling to add. We know how to do it carefully, we just don’t. It doesn’t pay to be careful.

Consider the Exxon Valdez. In 1989, the single-hulled Valdez spilled oil all over the Alaskan coastline; a jury judged that Exxon owed us $5 billion; appeals got that figure down to $500 million. Jump ahead two decades, and ExxonMobil’s proit for a recent five-year period (2005-09) was nearly $181 billion. The Valdez penalty was 3/10 of 1 percent of that. It’s like a gnat on their windshield. ExxonMobil remains the biggest user of single-hulled vessels in the world, even though the U.S. will require double-hulled tankers in all American waters — starting in 2015.

So in the wake of this spill, the question is not how to make BP pay, or which new regulations to enact 25 years from now. The question is, can we outlaw arrogance, curb greed and restore some sense of humility?

If not, to paraphrase Tanaka, as long as the greed of mankind exists, we will continue to see our own worst nightmares come to life.

Ted S. McGregor Jr. is the Editor and Publisher of The Inlander.

  • Pin It

Speaking of Oil, common Ground

  • Big Sky Stories
  • Big Sky Stories

    As Montana goes, so might go the rest of the nation in the Big Money 2012 election.
    • Aug 24, 2011
  • Oil and Water
  • Oil and Water

    A network of pipelines threatens Spokane's drinking water.
    • Jul 13, 2011
  • Indelible Day
  • Indelible Day

    A Fourth of July dispatch from the nation's capitol.
    • Jul 6, 2011
  • More »

Latest in Comment

  • On the Street
  • On the Street

    Have you ever been called a "special snowflake"?
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • America's Greatest Resource
  • America's Greatest Resource

    In a country of wonderful — and destructive — contradictions, we must listen to each other
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Independence of Mind
  • Independence of Mind

    The dance around the Neil Gorsuch nomination underlines the stakes of getting a peek inside his head
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • More »

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age

Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 7

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Tragedy of John Wayne
  • Tragedy of John Wayne

    Why the John Wayne Pioneer Trail is worth saving
    • Oct 29, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation