A New Orleans real-estate appraiser, on a federal program that was supposed to help rebuild local businesses after Hurricane Katrina. Five years later, more of the tax-free benefits have gone to the state’s powerful oil industry than to development.
Today in scary reality:
Deadly mudslides in China, devastating floods in Pakistan, record-breaking heat and raging wildfires in Russia: it all adds up to a season of extremes. With global temperatures rising, is the worst yet to come?
Live from the BP Gulf Oil Spill
Continuing to develop the Gulf of Mexico is predicated on our ability to venture farther out, and drill deeper down. But this spill destroys—at least for the near term—the notion that the oil industry has conquered the technological challenges posed by deepwater drilling. And as history shows, all it takes is one big disaster to alter the future of an entire industry.
At the very least, the cost of operating in the Gulf of Mexico will likely go up. Stiffer regulation from the Minerals Management Services will make sure of that. So will higher insurance premiums. The spill will likely cost BP several hundred million dollars, and tarnish its safety reputation. In 2005, 15 workers died in a Texas refinery explosion. BP will surely face fines for the Deep Horizon accident. Its stock price is down 17 percent since the accident occurred. Transocean, the company that owned the Deep Horizon rig, has seen its stock price fall 22 percent.
Matt Philips, on the future of deepwater drilling
Begley’s really great in this, a rundown of why buying green won’t save the planet:
Shopping for the planet is just one manifestation of how green activism has gone seriously off course as it has spread a gospel of personal change rather than collective action. Of the Nature Conservancy’s five recommendations for Earth Day, four—figure out your carbon footprint here, time your shower, go for a walk (!), and find a farmers’ market—involve individual behavior. Only a single suggestion, “speak up on climate change” by letting lawmakers know you support the energy and climate bill that Sens. Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham plan to introduce this week, gets at the only kind of change that has been shown in the 40 years since the first Earth Day to make a difference.
Every example of major environmental progress—reducing acid rain, improving air quality, restoring the ozone layer—has been the result of national legislation or a global treaty. We reduced acid rain by restricting industry’s sulfur emissions, not by all going out and sprinkling bicarb on sensitive forests and lakes. Leaded gasoline was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1996, not by everyone choosing to buy cars that run on unleaded. Ozone-chomping CFCs were banned by the 1987 Montreal Protocol, not by everyone deciding to forgo spray cans and air conditioning.
The gases had to be banned, people. All environmental progress has come through national- and international-level regulation—to be blunt, by forcing people and industry to stop doing environmentally bad things and start doing environmentally good things, not by relying on individuals’ green good will or even the power of the marketplace.
Today in interesting-but-ominous features: 100 Places to See—Before They’re Gone
Connolly, on Obama’s oil strategy.