A Dark Story Looking for a Happy Ending

It is the biggest environmental disaster in history. It was hard to believe that a catastrophe like the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 in Alaska could have ever happened. But it did. The explosion on a BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico exceeded our worst nightmares. And if the damages were initially played down, it was only because the facts were coming out piece by piece, which, by the way, is not unheard of.

It may sound absurd to say this, but the disaster may bring important benefits to the planet’s future. Only if we learn our lesson, though, which is not certain, as history has shown repeatedly.

The disaster brought to light what many were suspecting: the promiscuous relationship between the Bush administration and the oil industry.

It was Barack Obama himself who denounced the “scandalously close’’ relationship between British Petroleum and the U.S. entity charged with the supervision of the oil giant’s activity. Bush’s inflexibility to take steps to toward reducing greenhouse gases is also well-known, and such a reduction will not be easy to accomplish without adjusting the importance of oil in the American economy.

This time the U.S. and its sunny paradises were greatly affected. While everyone believed the Exxon Valdez disaster would never be overcome with more than 40 million liters of oil — 10 million gallons — spilled, 147 million liters, which is around 32 million gallons, have already been spilled from the BP wells into the Gulf of Mexico. And there are no signs that this disaster is anywhere near under control. On the contrary, everything seems to indicate that the oil will continue to flow until August, at least.

It is no longer the Bush administration’s time in office. The signs given by Barack Obama indicate that the disaster can be an opportunity to rethink American energy policy. In spite of everything that has been lost forever, the rest of the world will be thankful if some good can come of it.

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