Your Role in the Oil Spill

I might as well write about BP since everyone else is! There’s even a little intelligent stuff being written, but it’s lost in the flood of unthinking emotion. The Deep Horizon oil spill will be a case study in engineering organization, since it dramatically illustrates the Engineer’s Triangle (or whatever they calll it these days). The Triangle? Fast, cheap, good – pick two.

Deep water drilling is the same as everything else – it can never be 100% safe. But it can be safer. It’s a matter of what we want to spend. Gasoline at $3 a gallon buys one level of safety. Gas at $5 buys more. Gas at $100 buys a lot more. How much safety do you want?

Now, in case you are a bike rider and feeling smug, don’t get cocky. The price of fuel is reflected in freight, meaning everything you buy: food, clothes, bicycles – the whole enchilada. Giving every kid three meals a day buys one level of safety. Sending them to bed hungry buys more. How much safety do you want?

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