At the moment, the spill in the Gulf of Mexico only knows how to get worse:
You've likely seen the heartbreaking pictures of birds covered in oil from the calamitous April 20 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. But as the oil threatens coastal marshes, the long-term effect could be more devastating.Two weeks ago, I thought Deepwater Horizon would do to offshore drilling what the Three Mile Island accident did to American commercial nuclear power. At the time, I had no idea that the scales of the accidents (Deepwater Horizon, Three Mile Island) were going to be vastly different. We are in the middle of May and the spill is thriving and threatening to kill a massive body of water. Deepwater Horizon will not just deal a fatal blow to offshore drilling but also a severe blow to the oil industry as a whole. The only good thing about this endless spilling is that it makes the ugliness of oil hard to not to see.
And, sadly, visibility is what it's all about. From Golob's Dear Science:
A large part of the cleanup effort will go into eliminating the appearance of the oil on the surface. The goal with such efforts is more PR—about eliminating the ominous images from our eyes—and less environmental salvage. This is a catastrophe of the lowest order—predictable, inevitable (due to greed and avarice), and fundamentally unfixable.The very sight of the crude oil, and the fact that the American public is daily seeing the very bad things the dead can do to the living, places a considerable cloud over the once-bright future of this form of fuel. Before Deepwater Horizon, the whole idea of alternative fuels was not taken seriously at all; after, the ears and minds of the public might finally open to (and even adopt) new ideas. What Deepwater Horizon more and more looks like from our satellites is the oil industry's Three Mile Island.