This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Big Oil’s Chernobyl

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion continues to spread across the fragile marshlands and coastal waters along Louisiana, coating thousands of birds and fish in crude and upsetting the Gulf’s delicate ecosystem. Now, even as BP officials say they are siphoning as much as 10,000 barrels of oil a day from the blown-out well, there is evidence that the slick may reach Florida and Texas. And the Coast Guard has said the clean-up could continue into the fall.

To get a sense of the long-term environmental impact, as well as the political fallout of the disaster, Need to Know’s Jon Meacham sat down with Carl Safina, president and co-founder of the Blue Ocean Institute. Safina says the Deepwater Horizon disaster may be the end of Big Oil as we know it.

  • Differing views on fracking's impact
    Studies conducted on the counties above the Marcellus and Barnett Shale for example — where extensive drilling has already taken place — present mixed economic results.
  • thumb
    Too much solar energy?
    The proliferation of privately owned solar has large power companies in Germany worried.
  • thumb
    Nominee has industry ties
    Energy secretary nominee had deep connections to industry, including as a paid adviser to BP until 2011.


  • Gil

    I hope it is the end of Big Oil. We need to move on.
    Meanwhile oil continues to flow into the Gulf destroying the Ocean environment and killing sea life. We only see what washes up on shore.
    The destruction and killing continue.

    The Ocean can never be restored, the beautiful sea life lost can never be replaced. Nature cannot file a claim or lawsuit. Mother Earth needs our help.

    After reading about the fact that there are areas with NO cleanup workers working I feel more resolved than ever to help so I have chosen to partner with Global Green USA to help. Global Green USA is a proven entity and located an office in New Orleans to help rebuild after Katrina. They are well positioned to help with the Oil Spill now. So while BP makes empty promises about paying “Legitimate” claims Global Green USA needs our help to take action now. BP is not doing the job.
    A $5 contribution is all we’re asking and you get music in return. I am proud to donate to their effort and hope you can contribute:

    PS: Links to Global green USA (a 4 star charity) are included so you can see what they are about.

  • Kaff J

    Meachem is one of those people that think if they talk slow enough, and enunciate their words now and then, that you will think they are smart. It reminds me of Bush. It reminds me of people who can’t speak a foreign language. When they talk to someone other than a fellow countryman, they talk real real slow, and add an accent at the end of a word. Like that will make people understand. He thinks he is some kind of sheppard, always being real nice. Gathering together. But the way he talks and acts is really because he can not risk angering anybody because he can not verbally parry with anyone. Barf.

  • @Kaff J

    Meacham is from the South. That’s how we talk. That’s how George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry talked. Don’t make fun of it. Speech should be deliberate.

  • David F., N.A.

    As bad as this oil spill is (say goodbye to the gulf and east coast), it in no way can be compared to a nuclear disaster. Has anyone read the Obama-Kerry-Lieberman energy bill yet? Since when did nuclear energy become green? Maybe after BP goes belly up, Hayward will get a chance at running some of our nuclear power plants.

    Poor o’ Barry. He doesn’t seem to like being on a hook. Maybe this fish puppet should change svengalis. He thought a troop withdrawal from Iraq, this year, would help get more conservaDems into office and a withdrawal from Afghanistan, in ’12, would get himself reelected, but no, now he’s gonna have to spend the next two and a half years being reeled in (ouch).

    If multinational corporations were to cause a catastrophe everyday — no wait, let’s say every month — no wait, let’s say every two years — do you think anyone would notice that America is under attack? With a banking disaster (debt slavery) in ’08 and an oil spill (food supply) in ’10, I wonder what globalization has in store for our west coast (food supply) in ’12.

    Jeb & co. are rubbing their claws together while licking their chops.

  • Casey

    This disaster is the biggest potentially life-altering event in our history. Life is interconnected and it’s not just a case of destroying a few birds or fish. This is killing all of the life in the Gulf, from the smallest organism which works to convert dead animals into beneficial bacteria to the animals which end up on our dinner tables. Can anyone predict what will happen if all of that dead flesh is allowed to just rot on the ocean floor? Can anyone predict what will happen if the oil spreads into the Atlantic. We will be paying for this in so many ways for decades and who knows if we will ever recover. It’s unfortunate that folks like Kaff can’t discuss this without reducing the conversation to one of how Meacham talks. Open your eyes please.

  • Rebecca Tarbotton: Will the BP Oil Crisis get us Beyond Petroleum? | Ecomentality@LifeDrop

    [...] Safina of the Blue Ocean Institute may have said it best in his June 4th interview with PBS: "This is Big Oil's Chernobyl. I think it's a catastrophe that shows the enormous risk [...]

  • Rebecca Tarbotton: Will the BP Oil Crisis get us Beyond Petroleum? | What's hot right now….

    [...] Safina of the Blue Ocean Institute may have said it best in his June 4th interview with PBS: "This is Big Oil's Chernobyl. I think it's a catastrophe that shows the enormous risk [...]

  • The Public DOES Care | Climate Change

    [...] The next step for the public is to actively voice its concerns to its elected representatives.  That’s what you do in a democracy.  Carl Safina, president and co-founder of the Blue Ocean Institute, in talking with PBS recently, said, most eloquently, that the oil companies “…don’t want us to look at where we need to look which is to the next era of energy where the United States can regain leadership in the world.  They don’t want that, and we have fallen for it.  It’s not that we drive too much.  It’s that we don’t insist on getting to where we need to go.  While other countries have dreams, we’re just asleep at the switch.  That’s why it’s our fault.”  See Safina’s interview here. [...]

  • Energy 2.0 » Blog Archive » Need to Know: It’s not impossible to ween ourselves off of coal & oil

    [...] also had some compelling coverage of the gulf spoil including Big Oil’s Chernobyl and A chance encounter on the Gulf Coast with a BP [...]

  • bb54

    what ought to be understood from this disaster is that it is already too late for everything.Disasters like this will be common occurence in the future,species of fish and marine life will vanish.Social disruptions,civil wars,wars on a global scale. People all around the world have lost faith in their political leaders.Money rule all,environment has a price tag.corruption,incompetent leaders. I see a very bleak future. Things from now on are going to get worse,much worse.Drought,famines,fires,storms,diseases.Look at the state of the world now: major conflict about to happen.countries are at each others throats…this is really too much and I am very sad to see that this is the fate of our once beautiful planet, the blue planet jewel in the sky.I guess everything good has to have an end…Isn’t it ?

  • Reb

    Why don’t you morons bicker away like silly spoiled children while this nation is being destroyed and everyone of us could face similar heinous events…soon! If this catastrophe doesn’t get your attention and scare the living hell out of you, then someone needs to take out a shovel and go ahead and bury you because you are either dead or not fit to live.

    Simple greed and the unconcern of everyone on this planet is the reason for all of this. I guess some of you may wake up now but it may be too late. We have all known about government and religious corruption most of our lives but as Americans we had it too easy so why rock the boat and disturb the make believe lives we have grown accustomed to living. When the ‘other shoe’ falls we will all find ourselves living in a world we could have never imagined and it is at our door right now. It is mind boggling how stupid so many people in this nation have become and it is also disgusting.

  • Reb


    People like you are part of the problem. You simple minded dolt! The only thing that seems to concern you is the way someone talks instead of the deadly serious events we are facing in this nation. Now that you have impressed us all with your wise assessment of the man, run along and find someone else to bore and repulse.