Almost as appalling as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill itself is the cowardice and cynicism of the Obama administration in dealing with this disaster. Here it is: the grand opportunity handed to him through an ecological tragedy the likes of which we have never seen, and don't want to see ever again. And what does he do? His mouthpiece Robert Gibbs joins BP ceo Tony Hayward in leading the chorus of acceptance.
Then there is the question of how bad this disaster is, in terms of killing sea life and upsetting ecological balances. This is where I go back to a book I read not long ago, Paul A. Colinvaux's Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare.
In this book (highly recommended!) he shows that the oceans are for the most part more like deserts than forests or grasslands, that in their "natural" state they don't have the capacity to support a lot of life to begin with. We've taken so much fish only because the oceans are so vast, and that the image of oceans teeming with life is mostly a figure of human imagination. The reefs and estuaries and shallows are the exceptional places. So, the relative lack of diverse, living ecological zones in the seas is something to be considered when pondering the damage, that is to say, the rarity of living sea environments to begin with figures into the tragic cost of what we lose.