Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Crime of the Century
The 20th century produced several cases that have vied for the "crime of the century" title. The Lindbergh kidnapping occupied headlines for months back in the thirties. The Charles Manson murder spree in 1969 still pops up occasionally when one of the principals generates a bit of news. And, of course, the O.J. Simpson case dragged on forever following the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole in 1994.
Although the 21st century is young, we already have a crime of the century nominee. This one isn't a murder in the normal sense, though several people have been killed. The body count could become astronomical when they start tallying up all the birds and fish and turtles. Yep, we're talking oil spill here.
For several years, my wife and I spent two weeks each March and October at a condo on the pristine white beach at Perdido Key, Florida. We aren't swimmers, but we walked barefoot in the sand most days and spent hours on the balcony watching the breakers sweep onshore. Just the thought of what will happen if that gummy reddish-black muck washes up on Perdido Key turns my stomach.
Just the possibility of what may happen has already had adverse effects on the area. Luxury condos at nearby Gulf Beach, Alabama are renting for rock-bottom prices. I've always done well at book signings in the Pensacola area and was looking forward to this fall when my new book comes out. Maybe the people will find reading mysteries a good antidote to worrying about the terrible crime that's taking place in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP is ready to attempt another method or two at stopping the flow of rogue oil that continues to pour from the well on the ocean floor. If these don't work, maybe they should try stuffing a bunch of Washington bureaucrats into the pipe. That should cause enough confusion to plug up anything that might be gushing around.
From all that's been said, neither the oil company nor it's bureaucratic overseers were prepared for such an accident. Hopefully they have learned enough to make sure it doesn't happen again. But before it's over, this is likely to go down as the worst disaster ever suffered by America's southern coast. And it may even infect parts of the east coast as well.
Speculation is that Nashville will not fully recover from the effects of last month's flood for twenty years. The Gulf Coast may be in for a similar fate.