On May 27, I posted a note about how there are fewer and fewer oil companies I can buy from because of various positions they’ve taken. I said, “I’m boycotting BP because of their failure to prevent the worst oil spill since Moses.” That was, of course, hyperbole. In fact, if you went to the link (oops, meant to have it link to something much more current), you saw that it was a comparison various oil spills, and current estimates of how much oil has bubbled out from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico puts this disaster only in the top 20 (though it is the worst in US history) in terms of number of gallons spilled.
The problem is that this disaster is very different from most of the other big oil spills, even from the biggest oil spill – in January 1991, the Iraqis spilled an estimated 380-520 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf in an attempt to thwart a US invasion. This one is deep under water and it is resulting in not just oil sheens on the surface, but huge plumes of emulsified oil deep under water. This is a three-dimensional spill. I suspect this oil will end up in the food chain for decades to come.
I’m not sure how one measures “the worst” of disasters like this. The number of barrels of oil spilled doesn’t suffice. And it doesn’t need to be the worst to be horrified by it. What is clear is that BP and its subcontractors failed to protect us.