I know, I know. It's madness. I'm as mute as a fish for weeks on end and then write three posts in two days. What can I say? The tide comes in, the tide goes out.
We caught another chapter in the never-ending story that is the BP Blowout on the news tonight, Gulf States July 4th tourist visits down by 80% as the beaches slowly disappear under a layer of sludge. Dying fish, corals, plankton, shellfish, birds, marine mammals, estuaries, marshes, reptiles... the Gulf is suffocating in a toxic stew of oil and methane gas.
British Petroleum shares have lost half their value on the stock market, their assets have plummeted as they struggle to contain and clean up their mess, and look forward to years of damage control and horrendous image problems.
You know what? Concern for the environment is not just felt by economically naive tree-huggers. Environmentally responsible policies are good for both the bottom line and the planet. BP might have spent a couple of million dollars more putting the wellhead in to begin with, but they wouldn't be in this mess now if they'd have done it.
As it is the impact of this disaster will probably be felt for the next 100 years. Birds species will make their way south this fall for the last time, never to return. Turtles which have paddled our oceans for millions of years will vanish forever. The next four generations will live with the consequences of BP's economic decision to make a penny more profit a barrel by not installing an emergency excluder valve which would shut the flow off should there be an explosion. The penny difference per barrel was important enough to them that they were willing to risk the health, safety and livelihood of every man, woman and child living along the Gulf coast and beyond.
This in itself reveals exactly why business cannot be left "unfettered", because corporations will always choose profit over the public good, and are indeed compelled to do so, for their only definition of "immorality" is to fail to return a profit to the stockholder. Corporations must be constrained by law from harming the environment and the public, because they are by nature self-serving. Like a two-year-old who will run into a busy street and cause a 10 car pileup, corporations need a parental government, to protect themselves, and others, from their own risky behaviour.
Companies need only look to BP's example to see that the corporation who places itself in a risky position to obtain profit may lose everything if a single thing goes wrong. BP may never recover from this. They may well go down in well-deserved flames before this is done with. Unfortunately it will take many an investor and family business with it, and a once productive and beautiful area of the USA may become a shadow of its former self.
Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find you cannot eat money
-- Cree Saying