52 Weeks, 52 Books – Book 14

We have just passed the ninth anniversary of the world’s worst peacetime oil spill and the effects are still being felt. When the Deepwater Horizon drilling unit suffered a catastrophic blowout and explosion in April of 2010, it devastated an area that was still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina two years before.

Peter Lehner’s book In Deep Water came out six months later, so it was impossible for this to be an in-depth analysis of what actually happened. What it actually is, is a scathing indictment of North America’s addiction to oil, the things that keep the addiction flowing, and the ways in which the Oil Industry have subverted the processes designed to protect the people, ecosystems, and other things around them.

Lehner dives far beyond just the impacts from the Deepwater Horizon incident and takes a serious look at what would be required to revitalize this badly neglected and economically challenged part of the world. Writing from an American perspective, Lehner excoriates the lack of assistance in recovery from Katrina, the systems of levees and dikes that prevent the mighty Mississippi River from finding its own natural course, as well as the lack of oversight from a government who has continually cut important roles and positions to the core.

Ultimately, what is portrayed is a dystopian image of what happens when unfettered capitalism is allowed to have its own way. A deeply disturbing and haunting image of a company (and industry) that is looking to make money at any cost, including the cost of human and animal lives. This is an industry that spends millions of dollars to influence government decisions, and Deepwater Horizon is the natural outcome of a profit at all costs mindset.

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