Friday, November 30, 2012


Did you ever see the movie Waterworld?

There is an old man trapped in the sunken hull of the Exxon Valdez, the oil tanker that wrecked up in Alaska. He has been there many years, all bearded, floating around in a rowboat on all the oil the Valdez was carrying that didn't leak out and destroy the eco-system when it ran aground on the Prince William Sound in 1989. His job (in the movie) is to occasionally pump oil up to the deck, but he is trapped down there for life.
It’s a pitiful existence.
Then one day, someone drops a lit match down a pipe into the hold where he floats around in his rowboat, and you see a close up of the lit match dropping in slow motion past his face, and just as it passes his face he whispers to the camera “Oh Thank God” and the match hits the surface of the oil, and the ship explodes.
The movie kinda sucks, but I love that scene.

Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, a mile off-course in an attempt to avoid icebergs, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, gashing its hull and releasing oil into the Pacific Ocean.

By the time the oil stopped flowing, nearly 11 million gallons had leaked out, contaminating 1,300 miles of shoreline and stretching over 470 miles from the crash site.

Do we really want to keep punching holes in the earth, extracting and transporting one of the messiest most dangerous substances on the planet and refining it into one of the most flammable substances on the planet, and that even when things go well, the by-products are poisoning the atmosphere, and according to many scientists, contributing to global warming?
Do we really want to de-regulate and open more lands for an industry that deals with such a toxic substance?
It was the end of the world for these guys, and another 500,000 animals just chillin' on the Prince William Sound that day.

Here we see a tanker being escorted through the Prince William Sound, which is standard operating procedure today.  Its a very good measure, I applaud it,  but it is an old fashioned solution for a very modern problem, is it not? And I'm no sailor, but doesnt it seem like the Tugs should be IN FRONT of the tanker? Haha.  

Like my pal over at The View From Outside My Tiny Window has expressed:
Innovation and technology, leading to building and creating 'things,' determines EVERYTHING in a civilized society. (If you don't personally know a scientist or inventor in your neighborhood advancing society's interests, or some kid who WANTS TO DO SO, you have a long term problem.)


SL said...

I like this post Mr. BH! Reminds me of something I read the other day...."We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to"

soubriquet said...

A feller I used to know was one of the lead plaintiffs against the Exxon Valdez.
He was a potter in the winter, and a salmon fisherman in the summer.

"Captain Hazelwood's departure from the bridge, though unusual, was not inexplicable. The explanation put before the jury was that his judgment was impaired by alcohol. He was an alcoholic. He had been treated medically, in a 28 day residential program, but had dropped out of the rehabilitation program and fallen off the wagon. He had joined Alcoholics Anonymous, but had quit going to meetings and resumed drinking. Testimony established that prior to boarding his ship, he drank at least five doubles (about fifteen ounces of 80 proof alcohol) in waterfront bars in Valdez. The jury could have concluded from the evidence before them that leaving the bridge was an extraordinary lapse of judgment caused by Captain Hazelwood's intoxication. There was also testimony that the highest executives in Exxon Shipping knew Hazelwood had an alcohol problem, knew he had been treated for it, and knew that he had fallen off the wagon and was drinking on board their ships and in waterfront bars.

There are supposed to be two officers on the bridge, but after Hazelwood left, there was only one. The bridge was left to the fatigued third mate, Gregory Cousins, a man in the habit of drinking sixteen cups of coffee per day to keep awake. Cousins was not supposed to be on watch-his watch was ending and he was supposed to be able to go to sleep--but his relief had not shown up, and Cousins felt that it was his responsibility not to abandon the bridge. He was assisted only by the helmsman, Robert Kagan. Kagan, meanwhile, had forgotten his jacket, ran back to his cabin for it, and returned to the bridge a couple of minutes before the time the turn had to be initiated. Cousins and Kagan thought they had conducted the maneuver, but evidently they had not. When Cousins realized that the vessel was not turning, he directed an emergency maneuver that did not work.

Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the tanker ran onto Bligh Reef. The reef tore the hull open. Prince William Sound was polluted with eleven million gallons of oil."

(Court Transcript)

bulletholes said...

Susan, it reminds me of the George Carlin routine about the rape of Mother Earth.
"She was askin' for it" he says.

Hey Soub, thanks for that!
We like to say at our group "Meeting makers make it".

Inspector Clouseau said...

Thanks much for the pitch. How much do I owe you?

Seriously, this issue is so serious, and most of us take it so lightly. I lived in California for 30 years, where battles over off-shore drilling have been raging for quite some time. I've also spent lots of time off of the western coast of Canada, which is so pristine and breathtakingly beautiful. Alaska is supposed to be even more so, and I can imagine the "gunk."

We're smart enough people to think our way out of this sack. What I'm not sure about is whether we're too greedy and oblivious to do so....

You know what the big issue for the coming decade? Clean drinking water. The sources are getting lower and lower. You know which nation leads the technological way in salt water desalinization? Saudi Arabia.