Friday, May 14, 2010

Second Thoughts about Oil? Think Again!

While it is clear that nothing good has come from the ongoing oil spill from the ruins of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, there was some comfort in both the White House and Congress having second thoughts about future plans for offshore drilling. However, if we are to believe the latest report from Al Jazeera English, such reconsideration may not be consistent with the electorate itself. The Al Jazeera story ended with an account of a poll that deserves attention:

Meanwhile, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico has not dimmed the American public's desire for drilling oil offshore.

The poll found that half of the Americans surveyed were in favour, while 38 per cent opposed an increase in coastal drilling.

The telephone poll of 1,002 adults for the latest survey was conducted for The Associated Press by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media between May 7-11.

It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

The poll also found that 42 per cent approved of US president Barack Obama's handling of the ongoing oil spill, while 33 percent disapproved.

The results contrast with the public's reaction to George Bush, the former US president, in his response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005, also in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is nice to see that the American public is more favorably inclined to Obama's crisis management than it was to Bush's; but, to be fair to Obama's predecessor, the more substantive numbers from the poll basically reinforce that speech Bush gave, in which he invoked the phrase "addicted to oil." The current disaster may be spurring many in Washington to get a lot more serious about alternative energy sources, but this poll seems to indicate that this seriousness has yet to register outside the Beltway. Even if I say this grudgingly, Bush got it right. As a nation, we really are addicted to oil; and, as is the case with drug addiction, "getting a fix" is far more important than any considerations concerned with risks and consequences. It is hard to imagine than any number of media images of oil-soaked birds or dead dolphins is going to shake us from that addiction, particularly in light of the amount of oil industry propaganda that is specifically aimed at keeping us addicted.

No comments: