I am not predicting the outcome of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf catastrophe, but would direct the readers attention to a worst case scenario that at the time of this article still appears to be at least a real possibility. The worst case scenario is based on two premises:

  1. That the pipe through which the oil is escaping will break in such a way as to raise the rate of the spill from about 5000 barrels a day to about 50,000.

  2. That for at least a couple of months it will be impossible to stop this flow of oil into the ecology.

As the article below makes clear, well informed and sophisticated engineers and scientists believe that both of these things could happen. It appears that if the problem does expand in this way it would mean the death of all our oceans, and possibly the death of the human species. We are talking about something that could be as big as the asteroid that precipitated one of the the great extinctions about 65 million years ago, and put an end to the most of the dinosaurs.

I would not venture a guess as to whether the worst case scenario will play itself out with this particular catastrophe. My point is simply that it is a real possibility. Furthermore, as another article makes clear (Whistleblower: BP Risks More Massive Catastrophes in Gulf), this is not the only well that could create huge and uncontrollable problems. If all this is true, then between them, Halburton and BP (along with their political cronies) are putting the existence of the earth as a viable environment for the human species at risk.

The existence of the institutional dinosaurs that currently roam the earth, destroying everything in their paths, is justified by two beliefs.

  • The profit motive by itself is a worthy and reliable guide to the development of an economic system that will serve the interests of all people and the earth itself.

  • That we can, without dire consequences, replace the natural order with a humanly engineered one. As Randel Jared in a recent article in Truthout states it, “at least since the advent of industrialization, it appears that humanity has made a Faustian bargain that renders us the enemies of the earth in order to survive.”

These two beliefs constitute a deadly combination.

The huge banks and corporations that now dominate economic life on the earth, and the political systems that they control, cannot be depended upon to attend to the public good. No visible or invisible hand of any multinational corporation is going to do that. Their self- admitted bottom line is to secure as much profit as possible for their already rich stock holders.

If the Deepwater Horizon crisis in the Gulf is not the asteroid that will, by itself, mark the end of the geological period in which human beings were the dominant species, it seems almost certain that if we continue to place our collective destiny in the hands of huge out of control corporations, a worst case scenario will, sooner or later, be the outcome. A world dominated by multi-nationals who are too big to be regulated for the public good is not a sustainable world. Perhaps the Gulf oil crisis will enable us to open this issue for real discussion. Perhaps not. In an article entitled Knute Berger suggests that “liberals are always misjudging the reasonableness to the American citizenry,” and he does not expect the spill to have a large effect on public opinion or government policy. I hope he is wrong, as I imagine he does. But he makes a strong case. Its far from clear to me how big the asteroid will have to be before we take our heads out of the sand and try to look at reality. Hopefully it is not already too late. When the full impact of the asteroid hits, it will bring an end to the multi-nationals. They are the dinosaurs who must die if the mammals are to have their day. The only question is whether the asteroid will take out the rest of us with it. That will depend on timing: specifically on how soon the majority will wake up to the reality of our situation.

We are not just talking about whether sports fishing in the Gulf will be less fun for a few decades.

What is needed to avoid an eventual worst case scenario even if we avoid it with this crisis?

  1. Regulation of the system (both the financial sector and the big corporations) by an agency that has teeth to do the regulation, that is independent from the banks and corporations they are regulating, and that has the public good rather than private profit as its bottom line.

  2. A government that is truly elected by the people and not pre-selected by corporations with their campaign contributions.

  3. A healthy balance between private and public arrangements in our economic system – with an emphasis on encouraging those organizations that maximize worker and consumer empowerment.

  4. A mainstream news source dedicated to informing the public rather than to molding the public mind to make it more amenable to control by the big corporations.

  5. A ceiling on size – specifically on how big a corporation can be and how rich an individual can become. The ecology of the earth cannot sustain 400 billionaires.

The primary impediment to implementing any of these reforms is the hegemony of the multinationals, supported by the military power of the United States. The point is not that it would be nice if we were able to institute the above changes. I am suggesting that our survival as a species requires that we make them.