With all the election news, nobody paid much attention, which is probably what the administration wanted, but Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced last week that the federal government would allow the oil companies to resume deepwater oil drilling. The secretary made this call even though the investigation into the BP oil spill in the Gulf was still in progress.
Back in the ‘70s, historian Barbara Tuchman wrote a book, The March of Folly, which catalogued truly stupid decisions that changed the course of world history. The decisions she wrote about were contrary to the self-interest of the people that made them and were so patently stupid that many observers pointed out the folly of the calls before they were made.
Tuchman’s first case study is the fall of Troy. After the town fathers decided to accept the gift of a wooden horse from the Greeks, a blind priest, Laocoön, begged the leaders of Troy to change their minds. Laocoön said, “You can’t bring that thing in here, it might be full of Greek soldiers.” After the municipal elders decided to accept the gift, Laocoön asked them to exercise some caution when he said, “Well if you’re going to bring it in, at least poke it with a spear and see if anybody yelps.”
Well, the city council ignored Laocoön’s advice and the rest is history and so was Troy. American presidents have ignored warnings about America’s dangerous addiction to fossil fuels for years and if we don’t listen to the warnings, we will all pay the price. And not just at the pump.