Rod Dreher

The WaPo’s Joel Achenbach on where our worship of the false god of Technology can lead us:

There have been blowouts since the dawn of the oil drilling industry, but never a blowout like this. This one is the deepest on record, industry officials say. A blowout last August in the Timor Sea had some similarities, but it was in much shallower water. Capping the unsealed well, said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, is as tricky as getting the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely in their damaged spaceship.
“We have gone to a different planet in going to the deepwater. An alien environment,” oil industry analyst Byron King said. “And what do you know from every science fiction movie? The aliens can kill us.”
To extract hydrocarbons from the ground, even on land, is to take on powerful terrestrial forces. The oil and gas are in hot, porous rock, under pressure and trapped — until someone sticks a straw into the reservoir. The deeper the well, the higher the pressure.
Engineers talk of the importance of having multiple layers of controls, or “barriers,” when drilling. They don’t pump the oil up, because they don’t need to. Instead, they shove heavy drilling mud, a synthetic goo, into the well to act as a counterweight to the pressure from below. As the ultimate layer of defense they install the muscular blowout preventer with its hydraulic shears that can cut right through thick pipe.
But sometimes nature is harder to tame than expected. The consequences of a blowout can be dire in shallow water. At great depth, the consequences are only now, with each passing day, becoming fully apparent.

I know, I know, another Rod Dreher tossed-off rant about technology. Yawn. But look, the point isn’t “Technology is BAD.” The point is one similar to the one Patrick Deneen and Barry C. Lynn are getting at: that we have misplaced our faith in technology, tending to focus on the amazing things it can do, and downplaying its limits. And that’s how we get into trouble.

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