Every disaster is abstract until it happens.
It can be demagogued, exploited, twisted, disputed, trivialized and even ignored when it is still theoretical.
Now, as the tendrils of oil approach the coast of the southeastern United States⎯ with heartbreaking pictures of petroleum-soaked wildlife struggling ashore on ruined beaches sure to follow⎯ everybody from Sarah Palin to Barack Obama suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of history.
Drill, baby, drill? Whoever said that? It’s so 2008.
The reality that our insatiable energy demands require us to drill in the Gulf in the first place provides a perfect segue to something I witnessed on the way to work this morning: Here in Florida we have these gorgeous trees called tabebuias that bloom an electric yellow for a few weeks, then drop all their petals to the ground, creating an enormous mess.
I passed a shopping center where a maintenance worker was cleaning up after one of these things. Rather than rake up the petals and dispose of them, he was using a gasoline-powered blower to disperse them off the property and into the street--where they became everyone else’s problem, meaning no one’s problem.
So, after all the fuel was burned and the additional greenhouse gases were released into the atmosphere, absolutely nothing of value was accomplished.
How perfectly American.