Ecological catastrophes with the potential to alter the Earth's biosphere are not unprecedented in the Gulf of Mexico region. The difference between the extraterrestrial body that most likely killed off the mighty Mesozoic monsters, and the oil gusher which has the potential to undermine the Earth's oceanic ecosystems is a matter of volition... we, as a species, are choosing an ongoing catastrophe, while the dinosaurs (the non-avian ones, that is) were innocent victims of a bolide from the blue.
Despite the characterizations of the Limbaughs and Luntzes of the world, environmentalism is concerned, to a large extent, with human health and well-being. As long-lived apex predators par excellence, humans are particularly susceptible to contamination by various toxins. On the other hand, there are lifeforms which can thrive in extreme conditions, including bacteria which can metabolize petroleum (hat-tip to M. Bouffant) -such microorganisms should thrive in an oil-tainted gulf, even as other organisms die by the billions.
Due to venality, short-sightedness, and greed (for the want of a $500,000 shutoff switch...), our progeny will have to live with the fallout from this catastrophe for many, many years to come. Perhaps, millions of years from now, a hardy Coleopterous paleontologist will observe a worldwide layer of marine fossils and hydrocarbon residues, and deduce a reason for the demise of the ancient chordates which once ruled the planet.
In order to leaven the "Gloomy Gus" nature of this post, this song (the only Perry Farrel song I really, really like) comes to mind:
For a more earnest take on the situation, here's a song which has been running ruefully through my head for the past two weeks (hat-tip to Von, who mentioned Natalie Merchant in a recent post):
As a penultimate digression, the end of our dependence on oil as a fuel is long past due- we should have been using our fossil fuel reserves as "startup capital" to develop a renewable energy infrastructure, but instead we've been blowing it all like a cokehead heir blows his inheritence. As Gene Wolfe put it, we're sitting at home waiting for the money to run out.
As a final digression, Dick Cheney, with his industry-dictated energy policies, his zeal for deregulation, and his connection with the company which is quite possibly responsible for this disaster has descended even further into his abyss of cartoonish supervillainy.