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The Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil spew demonstrates that we just don’t get it

The GOM oil spew reinforces the extent to which Americans “just don’t get it” regarding the unsustainable nature of our American way of life.

Our self-righteous indignation at BP regarding the GOM oil spew—our insistence that they “fix ‘their’ problem immediately”, that they insure that “nothing like this ever happens again”, and, oh yeah, that they maintain continuous flows of black gold (from somewhere else) in order to perpetuate our American way of life—demonstrate total ignorance on the part of the American public regarding how our American way of life is enabled, why it is unsustainable, and why it will soon come to an end.

Our industrialized American way of life is enabled by continuous and enormous inflows of nonrenewable natural resources (NNRs)—energy resources (which include oil), metals, and minerals—the supplies of which are finite and are becoming increasingly scarce both domestically and globally.

Increasingly scarce NNRs are more costly and risky to exploit—that is, remaining NNR deposits, many of which are located in difficult to access areas, require increasingly sophisticated, expensive, and often untested technologies, processes, and apparatus to produce. Investment returns, in both financial terms and energy terms, are declining continuously.

The “guarantees” that we seek from BP not only demonstrate complete ignorance of these realities, but are physically impossible to make. Accidents like the GOM oil spew are likely to increase in frequency, magnitude, and cost going forward; while available NNR supplies will decline continuously, not increase or even remain constant.

The GOM oil spew is simply another reminder that we are rapidly approaching the point at which increasingly scarce, expensive, and risky NNR supplies will be insufficient to enable our American way of life—and we just don’t get it...

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