At present, upwards of 200,000 gallons of oil are pouring into the Gulf of Mexico daily. President Obama is rushing to assign responsibility, which BP CEO Tony Hayward readily accepted before shifting the blame to the drilling contractor. The left-wing is trying to contain damage to the environment as the right-wing does the same with its political agenda. But, for all the commotion, precious few are reading (out loud, at least) the writing on the wall.
The “drill, baby, drill” crowd is right on one point—we should indeed be extracting energy from our oceans and waterways. It is, however, mistaken on the method. So long as offshore rigs exist, and tankers carry its harvest between nations, environmental catastrophes can, and will, occur. In their place, we should be tapping the inherent power of the ocean itself, and the clean energy potential it represents.
Last week the announcement about the first offshore wind farm in the United States went all but unnoticed by the major news networks, understandably overshadowed by this nation-sized oil slick. All the same, it was a dubious milestone to begin with. Here we are in 2010, and the leader of the free world is only now beginning to cultivate its oceans for energy.
The potential goes far beyond offshore wind farms. Current technology offers three promising means of harnessing the potential energy of our waters: waves, tidal forces, and thermal energy. Each represents a zero-emission means of keeping our electrical grids humming, one that, as this debacle underscores, we neglect at our own peril.
So while the nation rightly frets over the oil spill washing up on Southern shores, the long-term solution to this problem lies in wait. Isn’t it about time we truly embrace it?
- Lance Steagall
Photo: A wind farm off the coast of Denmark. (Johan Spanner for The New York Times)