Jean-Michel Cousteau: Use of Oil Dispersants in Gulf ‘A Mistake’

“To add another chemical to the ocean, I think has some long-term consequence which we are not even aware of what it’s going to do. Personally, I think it was a mistake. We are much better equipped to capture oil at the surface provided that the weather allows that to happen.”

Jean-Michel Cousteau: Use of Oil Dispersants in Gulf ‘A Mistake’ | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS

Cousteau illustrates how using dispersant chemicals has made the crisis worse by breaking the single oil slick up into tiny pieces and possibly submerging it, which prevents its containment.

There is a common narrative, often trumpeted by conservatives, that government bureaucracy is slow and dumb and inefficient. And there is another common narrative adopted by liberals and progressives that corporations are evil.

Both viewpoints are over-simplifications and inaccurate. Any large human institution (government, corporations, etc.) is inefficient and dumb. Generally, the larger the organization, the dumber it is. The idea that corporations are efficient and smart because market pressures force them to be efficient and smart is a fallacy. It may be true in highly competitive markets where the cost of entry to that market is low, and there is no clear dominant market leader. But in any market where a balance of power is offset, any advantages the market might impose on these institutions disappear. Market leaders become entrenched in their position. New entrants that bring real efficiencies and real invention are squashed.

The obvious reaction to the Gulf Oil Spill Crisis is that we now have an opportunity to re-evaluate our future energy policy in light of the crisis. And this is true.

We also have an opportunity to re-evaluate the behavior and structure of our large institutions. The world’s largest government and one of the world’s largest corporations are culpable in this crisis.

What could be changed in human organizational behavior to avoid such crises? How could these come about in our world?

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