Navarre Beach, Florida by SCFiasco on Flickr
As a writer for a group of car sites with 3 million readers each month, I don't think I need to explain how much gasoline has changed my life. I've seen the world from street level because of it. It's fueled me.
Oil has caused me agita this year, too. It's played havoc with a place I see myself someday, when I'm divorced from work. And it's made me wonder if electric cars--or how much electrification of cars--is in the practical future.
We like to call it "Florida's Best-Kept Secret," but it's been hard to keep Navarre Beach a secret in the past six years. For starters, there was Ivan, a category 3 hurricane that made landfall about 30 miles to the west of us. Word of warning: when The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore shows up on your beach, you're doomed.
Ivan was punishment enough, but that September day in 2004 was followed quickly by July of 2005 and Hurricane Dennis, a direct hit. And then in September, by the monster that was Katrina, which flattened Mississippi with atomic fury and caused 20-foot storm surge from 200 miles away, swiping away our fragile coastal road like an asphalt game of Jenga. If you've seen my old profile pics here on High Gear Media, lying on a chunk of road, you've seen the debris.
Fast-forward to 2010, five years since the threat of storm season bore anything seriously menacing. Off in the Gulf, an oil rig exploded--and suddenly, BP became our new Ivan, or Katrina.
Natural disasters, you face them with a sullen acceptance, while you walk miles where a road used to be to cut mold out of drywall. This was different, this was angry. And as it unfolded in April and May, then June, then July, the inability of industry and government to explain how it happened, or how it would never happen again, laid bare our fellow bushwackers' anxiety. The realization that the immediate problem was incompetence, but the long-term problem was with oil.
You've been witness to everything since. At a micro level, what BP did to our beach may not be as bad as predicted. Some disgusting patties of frothy oil showed up on the snow-white sand we're famed for, as did quarter-sized blobs of more pure crude. Fifty miles west, Orange Beach, Alabama, went vividly orange under waves of unprocessed oil. We got off lightly.
If you found BP CEO Tony Hayward's behavior galling, imagine watching while picturing your retirement dissolving in inky pollution. Or while wondering if the herons you fed on the dunes outside your deck would ever come back.