I'll be honest, I didn't expect the oil to leak for more than a week or 10 days, max. Not good, but ... if you had told me it'd take almost 40 days before they actually made any attempt to plug it up, I wouldn't have believed you. And yet here we are.
A friend recently posted,
"If you're not prepared to fail, how will you ever create anything original?" —Sir Ken RobinsonNow this is from a creative person, and the scope here is for the creator. It's a sub-set of "it is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all". Which is also true 99% of the time.
And it is true for offshore and deep-well offshore drilling as well. We've gotten a relatively infinite amount of good out of oil than we've had to pay in the "bad" tradeoffs. And believe it or not, the earth will heal. Not saying the oil spills are cool and I'm fine with them. I'm saying if we want the good the oil brings, we're going to see and have to deal with the occasional disaster like this.
Now if we go back to the quote my friend posted and inspect it a little closer, "if you're not prepared to fail". Were "we", (and by "we" I mean BP) prepared for failure -- that is, did they have a contingency plan in the event that something like this happened?
It appears not. And that's bad. We should all learn from this.
But the lesson shouldn't be to stop offshore drilling or even deep-well offshore drilling. The lesson should be -- if your safety devices fail, you'd better have a thought-out plan ... dare I even say a creatively thought-out plan -- to stop it. And it would be good if you'd rehearsed it and done some testing as well.
Charles Krauthammer's take on it was pretty good. You might go give it a read.