Counting the Cost
(US) Gulf oil
The disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its impact on economy and environment.
Last Modified: 13 May 2010 15:18 GMT

It is said sometimes that life isn't fair, and I'll bet they are saying that on the US Gulf coast at the moment. An area ravaged by a once-in-a-lifetime hurricane five years ago, and now fighting another natural disaster - only this time it is technically not natural, but man-made.

But I believe there is a situation to reconcile with when we look at the oil spill threatening the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and it is this. Oil is a lifeblood … it employs people, it brings in money, and it has done for years. It is not unlike the Gulf from where I broadcast this show.

So when it threatens to cause such ecological and economic damage, what do you do? Do you bite the hand that feeds? 

To be very clear, BP (which owns the sunken oil rig) has to take responsibility … it has to fix the problem, and it has to compensate the people affected by it. And safety and recovery mechanisms need to be addressed so there is less chance of this happening again.

But do you risk one set of livelihoods for the other? The fishermen, the tourist sector - they'll be rightly upset at "oil". But I'm sure they would agree that the economy of oil is very important to the region too.

I hope I don't sound too capitalist with all this, because truly my heart does go out to all those people (not to mention the animals) in the Gulf coast who must be wondering "why us again". They have every right to feel like that, and I hope they have the resilience to face hard times again. I'm sure they do.

Anyway, that is obviously a big feature of this week's broadcast, and I'm very pleased that Nick Clark will join us in the CTC studio this week for a chat.

Nick is an excellent journalist, particularly on environmental issues, and not long ago on AJE he made a documentary called Losing Louisiana. We are going to revisit that with him, in light of the oil spill, and get some first-hand analysis from someone who has been there.

Also looking at Greece again this week (of course!) and the merger between United Airlines and Continental in the US. There didn't seem to be that much coverage of this story, but I think it is pretty big. It just shows that the airline industry truly is a case of "survival of the fittest" right now.

See you on the TV, and don't forget to follow us on twitter too – the name to search for is @AJCountingCost.

Counting the Cost can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1430, 2030; Saturday: 0430, 1230, 1900; Sunday: 0130, 1630; Monday: 0830; Tuesday: 0600.

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