Washing ashore: BP crews clean oil off of a beach in Port Fourchon, Louisiana (May 24, 2010).Source: Steven Johnson/Miami Herald/MCT
The Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploding, catching fire and sinking 5,000 feet to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico was extremely bad news. The pipe, cracked in three places, continues to spew oil, mixed with bubbles of methane gas and sediment, already leaving at least 6 million gallons of oil in the ocean.
This is bad news for the environment. Miles-long oil slicks are washing ashore from Florida to Texas—coastlines that are essential nesting grounds for loggerhead and green sea turtles. Offshore, countless species of fish, jellyfish and crabs are laying eggs at sea amid the rust-colored swirls of light crude. Also, tides of brown muck coat many acres of pristine Louisiana wetlands. The oil could remain in the plant life and soil for years, possibly destroying the fragile ecosystem.
This is also bad news for the coastal economy. The spill came just after hope seemed to reappear for Gulf Coast states. But as the rig went up in flames, which could be seen 50 miles away on Louisiana beaches, so did the renewed dreams of many in the region. The oil spill is crippling the fishing industry, as contaminated fish and shrimp are unsellable. While hotel occupancy is up 4 percent in Florida over last year, oil-tainted beaches—or even fear of oil ruining a vacation—may erase these gains.
Worse, it is more bad news for America.
As the oil spill worsened, updates from the Gulf had stiff competition for nightly television news air time: Nashville, Tennessee, was inundated with rain, with water levels reaching 12 feet above flood stage—30 dead. A botched Times Square bomb attack confirmed homegrown terror is alive and well. Arizona’s illegal immigration legislation aggravated racial tensions to the brink of violence. Add to these the ongoing economic woes, 9.9 percent unemployment and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Clearly, America faces many serious problems. Why yet another disaster?
When energy giant BP, which owns the leaking well, and the U.S. Coast Guard realized they were in the throes of a full-blown oil spill, with crude spewing from three uncontrolled leaks, they immediately took action. Using remote-controlled submersible robots, they worked to repair the failed blow-out preventer, but to no avail. BP then resorted to a trio of techniques to impede the oil from reaching American coastlines—spraying the surface with chemical dispersant to break up slicks, burning off the oil and laying millions of feet of boom, floating tubes meant to protect the shoreline by holding the light crude at bay.
Yet none of these procedures stopped what is at least 5,000 barrels per day from spilling into the Gulf.
After days of work, BP announced it had finally closed off the smallest leak using a specially designed valve. The move, however, did not really slow the flow of oil.
According to experts, the only surefire way to stop the main spill is to drill a relief well, boring out a new well to intersect with the original seven-inch hole so that both can be capped and controlled. This complicated procedure will take at least 90 days from start to finish.
In the meantime, BP looked for other fixes. First was the “cofferdam”—a four-story-high box designed to rest on top of the spill so the oil inside could be pumped to the surface. But it rested uselessly on the ocean floor after it clogged with a slushy mixture of frozen hydrocarbons and water. Then came the “top hat,” a smaller version of the cofferdam, which was scheduled to be followed by the “junk shot”—filling the hole with debris in an attempt to stop the flow.
But each idea is met with deep sea obstacles, namely frigid temperatures and powerful currents. And each time a new tactic is employed, BP executives remind everyone that “this has never been tried before.”
These containment attempts were eventually cast aside for the “insertion tube”—meant to slow the flow by inserting into the pipe what is essentially an industrial-sized catheter near the main leak to siphon off much of the oil. The insertion tool is now in operation, sucking up about 2,400 gallons per hour.
Many are concerned that the cleanup measures will devastate Gulf wildlife. This is the first spill in which chemical dispersants have been widely used—840,000 gallons since April 20. The dispersant breaks up the oil and sinks globules to the ocean floor, which could potentially wreak havoc on the underwater ecosystem. Scientists do not know the long-term impact of the chemicals.
“The gulf is tremendously resilient,” marine biologist Quenton R. Dokken told The New York Times. “But we’ve always got to ask ourselves how long can we keep heaping these insults on the gulf and having it bounce back. As a scientist, I have to say I just don’t know.”
And the oil spill may be worse than official estimates. The Times reported, “In a closed-door briefing for members of Congress, a senior BP executive conceded…that the ruptured oil well could conceivably spill as much as 60,000 barrels a day of oil, more than 10 times the estimate of the current flow.”
Additionally, much of the oil may be in underwater plumes unseen by Coast Guard flyovers or in satellite images.
“There’s an equal amount that could be subsurface too,” University of California Berkeley professor Robert Bea, who worked for Shell Oil Co. in the 1960s during the last big northern Gulf of Mexico oil well blowout told The Associated Press. Oil below the surface, he continued, is “near impossible to track.”
The Gulf oil spill has similarities to many of America’s current problems: it is on a scale never seen before, requires solutions that have never been tested, and all under conditions that are anything but ideal.
With the oil spill and many other crises taxing the nation, the U.S. has entered a new phase of the “Great American Experiment,” having to implement never-before-tried solutions. Yet the nation stands ready to tackle the problems as it always has—head-on.
Even with compounding American crises, most everyone remains confident the nation is ever-resilient, more than able to weather these hard times.
And why shouldn’t the country confidently face daunting tasks? For two centuries, the United States, along with Britain, has had the greatest army, been the world leader in agriculture, manufacturing, production, technology and trade, and held crucial strategic sea gates and defensive strongholds throughout the world. And throughout this time, the nation has repeatedly been given challenges—the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the Great Depression—and has almost always emerged victorious. But why?
Most look to the founding fathers as the source of this nation’s greatness, either citing the unique political ideology set down in the Constitution as the backbone of the country’s success, or believing that the nation was founded on strong Judeo-Christian roots and that strong faith in God has guided the nation to preeminence.
The answer does in fact come from the lives of the fathers of the American people—but not in the way most think!
Abraham, the father of the descendants of the ancient nation of Israel, was given a promise from God for his obedience.
“That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate [sea gates] of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen. 22:17-18).
The same promise was passed to Abraham’s son Isaac and later to Jacob: “Therefore God give you of the dew of heaven, and the [fertile places] of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine” (Gen. 27:28).
Jacob was later renamed Israel, and the promise was expounded on by God: “…be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of you” (Gen. 35:11).
Who fits this description? Certainly not the tiny slave nation of ancient Israel or the modern state of Israel on the Mediterranean! When all these specific details are aligned, only two countries emerge: America (a nation) and the United Kingdom (a company of nations).
Because of the promises made to these true “founding fathers” alone, America has enjoyed abundance during its meteoric rise to prominence.
In contrast to modern thinking, America did not achieve its superpower status through sheer human effort. Yet, with the unconditional promise of Abraham fulfilled, the blessings America has long enjoyed are being withdrawn.
So what changed? The people of the United States have been ungrateful for their blessings—feeling they are the product of a manmade political system or “unalienable rights” conferred on them by God.
America’s rise, however, was only due to one thing—Abraham’s obedience. Notice why God promised to bless Abraham’s offspring in the first place: “because you have obeyed My voice.” Only through obedience to God’s laws can the United States return to superpower status.
What then is one of America’s greatest offenses? Covetousness. “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one deals falsely” (Jer. 6:13).
Current world events make obvious the consequences of U.S. disobedience:
Instead of heeding the warnings of punishment from a loving God, Americans continue to believe that they can solve their problems. Yet the conditions of the nation—widespread unemployment—$12.9 trillion in national debt—two “unwinnable” wars on the other side of the globe—make a major Gulf oil spill pale in comparison. Instead of changing their lives, Americans think they can solve the current crises through physical means!
Read carefully: “They have healed also the hurt of…My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). Today, much of American life still feels normal—peace, but when there is no peace—yet punishment looms unless the nation turns toward God in obedience.
God would never punish without offering a way of escape. Notice: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they [leaders and religionists] shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them…But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (I Thes. 5:2-4).
Individuals can know and respond to what is coming. To understand the pending punishment of America detailed in Scripture—and what it means to you—read David C. Pack’s book America and Britain in Prophecy.