Phew! US Has No Plans to Use Nuclear Weapons to Stop the Gulf Gusher
photo: Andy Zeigert via flickr
You've probably heard the lunatic proposition floating around the web that the last resort option in stopping the oil gushing out of the the sunken Deepwater Horizon is to deploy some variety of nuclear weapon to blast the leak out of existence. Thankfully, according to a New York Times report, the US government has no plans to act on what one senior official described as a "crazy" plan:
Stephanie Mueller, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, said that neither Energy Secretary Steven Chu nor anyone else was thinking about a nuclear blast under the gulf. The nuclear option was not -- and never had been -- on the table, federal officials said.
Government and private nuclear experts agreed that using a nuclear bomb would be not only risky technically, with unknown and possibly disastrous consequences from radiation, but also unwise geopolitically -- it would violate arms treaties that the United States has signed and championed over the decades and do so at a time when President Obama is pushing for global nuclear disarmament.
I know I'm (in seriousness) breathing a sigh of relief in reading that.
It also coincides with some poignant analysis of the situation, both the calls for using a nuclear weapon to stop the leak and the seeming never-ending stream of armchair oil drilling experts all offering their solutions to BP as if they weren't already throwing every bit of technical expertise into the mix.
It comes from John Michael Greer of The Archdruid Report. Greer proposes that the fascination with the nuclear option and alternative gusher-stoppers serves,
...as an incantation, a way to banish the appalling awareness that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else except the fairly small number people actually struggling to deal with the well, can do anything about it.
Incantations of this sort make up a remarkably large fraction of the talk about peak oil and the future of industrial society these days. Get into an online conversation on the subject, for example, and you can be all but certain that at least one of the people involved will pipe up with a plan to solve it. It doesn't matter at all that, much more than nine times out of ten, the person proposing the plan is doing nothing to make it happen, and neither is anybody else. The plan is not meant to happen. It's meant to dispel the profoundly troubling sense that the future is spinning out of control and there's not actually all that much that we can do about it.