In New Orleans there is an expression, “Laissez les bonnes temp roulez.” It means “let the good times roll. “
It’s a sentiment that fits with the reputation of the Big Easy, and it’s one that has been easily adopted by the Big Oil interests in the region and throughout the world.
The Well From Hell brings to light the long-held tradition of big risk, big reward and big egoes held by BP and its counterparts. It’s a culture that has led to a sordid safety and environmental record for that company, and culminated in the disaster of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer of 2010.
From BP’s legendary earliest oil explorer, William D’Arcy, whose discovery of a gusher in 1908 helped to cement Britain’s place as a global energy broker, to its more recent leader, John Browne, who took the gamble that deep-sea oil drilling would ward off the ‘end of oil’ for a few more decades, drilling has increasingly become “a game of high-stakes Texas poker with colossal risks and astronomically high potential gains.”
The tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon spill claimed 11 lives of its crew. It may be decades before we know the full extent of the environmental damage it caused. Yet, with more than 4,000 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico alone and the future of our global economy and our environmental health at risk, Sargent leads us to question just how high we are willing to let the stakes get in the gamble for our global energy future.
Fukushima takes an in-depth look at the March, 2011 nuclear disaster that occurred as a result of one the most powerful earthquakes ever to hit Japan. In his lively and conversational writing style, Sargent puts the tragedy in useful context by exploring what led the Japanese to build 55 nuclear power plants on one of the most seismically active locations on Earth,
Sargent helps us to see Japan's economic success story through the prism of its aggressive approach to energy independence while resisting new geological understandings of plate tectonics that would likely have changed their decision to build the plants along the geologic "ring of fire."
Fukushima also takes us through the moment-by-moment decisions and miscommunications that created the worst nuclear disaster in our planet's history, demonstrating that there is no such thing as a fail-safe nuclear system. But Sargent's tale isn't all dark. He leaves us with a peak into a possible energy future that relies much more on clean energy and forces us to take a long, hard look at our reliance on nuclear.