I like how Naomi Klein put the BP crisis in perspective here. She's not the first to observe how crazy it is that we watched the earth bleed on a livecam in real-time for months, or to note that what's scarier than that is the carelessness and lack of remorse that precipitated this event in the first place.
But she raises important questions scientists often pose with regard to the way we approach what should be long-term industrial development. Instead of taking those questions into serious consideration, decision-makers usually ask, "What's the latest we can wait?"
Worse than that is the sensibility that because that livecam is cut, this crisis is over. We can be so forgetful. But there are things that we can't afford to forget, to jury-rig at the last minute. And it's not merely because it's ethically irresponsible, it's unsustainable and technologically counterproductive. Mistakes like this kill invisibly for years.
Historically, BP's managed to slip out of accountability's grasp because it's older than the queen and incredibly large and powerful. It is our civic responsibility to show it that times have changed.
It brings to mind something Havas' David Jones said during the AdForum Summit of 2009. Someone in the audience had asked what the reason was for this big investment, unable to perceive Havas' stake in the future of something that doesn't serve the bottom line: in this case, its 100% nonprofit Tck Tck Tck project.
“Profit for its sake, and capitalism for its sake, will actually become unstuck, unwind and not work,” he said, emphasising that social responsibility must become the heart of tomorrow's business strategy. It's the only way to assure the world, and its people, will be willing to carry you on their shoulders over the long-term: technology today forces an incredible transparency and sense of accountability that didn't exist prior, and an increasingly educated public will and should be the ultimate check and balance.
That is, if we can all step away from Jersey Shore for a couple of hours.
In related material, you can check out my presentation on how BP fumbled from a PR perspective.