June 7, 2010

Never let a crisis go to waste.

I was on a mountain bike ride today with my friend Alex Bogusky.

We often bang ideas around, some of which we each then go and write or blog about. I was thinking about his latest idea on the oil spill, as inspired by his teenage son, which was to actually leverage Monsanto’s GMO technology to genetically modify BP executives into oil eating organisms and drop them into the spill as human cleanup devices in their bespoke three-piece British suits.

While certainly clever, I thought this was actually a pretty innovative use of people who have been extraordinarily reckless with the vital responsibilities they had in making sure this exact kind of thing doesn’t happen.

It’s this kind of thinking (from the aforementioned 14-year old) that tells me there is hope in the world—that our younger generations will no doubt pave (using sustainable, recycled earth-friendly materials of course) the way into the future and (hopefully) save our planet. The unfortunate circumstance we have here is that many of the BP people will have to stick around for some time to clean up what promises to be a 30-year plus environmental disaster.

Well, at least the BP engineers should: similar to the science of nuclear disarmament, my hope is that we leverage their intellectual capital to figure out how to dismantle the very time bombs that they created; the undersea oil wells, rigs and platforms themselves.

We allow oil to be tapped at depths that humans can’t survive at, and therefore requires new engineering techniques to be created on the spot to deal with out-of-reach disasters. It’s preposterous and…it’s criminal. It’s not about taking responsibility after the disaster—rather it’s about instilling corporate responsibility so that it doesn’t happen in the first place. And God forbid it did, you could have dealt with it much more swiftly with physical human intervention and elbow grease (pun somewhat intended).

It’s a maddening situation for all of us. And despite that progress was made today using one of the many new meme-inducing devices/methodologies (top kill, containment cap, laser guided robotic submarine, diamond saw blade pipe cutter, something and something package etc.), it doesn’t change the fact that companies need to be monitored much more closely.

This is the time to clamp down on corporate irresponsibility. Because, guess what? This is the dire, human-caused environmental warning many of us feared. It just showed up differently than we expected. And as Rahm Emanuel said last week, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

Damn straight.

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