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Jumat, 18 Mei 2012

Poisoned Legacy: The Human Cost of BP's Rise to Power by Mike Magner - Book review

Poisoned Legacy

The Human Cost of BP's Rise to Power

By: Mike Magner

Published: May 8, 2012
Format: Trade Paperback, 432 pages
ISBN-10: 1250007399
ISBN-13: 978-1250007391
Publisher: Picador

"Eleven men died almost immediately in the horrific explosion that the blowout caused on the Deepwater Horizon, the giat rig that BP was leasing to drill its well a mile below the surface of the ocean; eleven families, including a number of very young children, had their lived irrevocably altered by the loss of their loved ones", writes Managing Editor at the National Journal, Mike Magner, in his powerful and thought provoking book Poisoned Legacy: The Human Cost of BP's Rise to Power. The author describes how BP (British Petroleum) failed to live up to its promises as both an environmentally conscious and a safety oriented company, resulting in the catastrophic explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and other previous environmental disasters as well.

Mike Magner recognizes the importance of the petroleum industry to both the American economy and the nation's way of life. Because of this dependence on oil and gas, the author considers it crucial that the general public fully understand how petroleum is produced, and how the environment is affected by the industry and its participants. Mike Magner raises awareness of what can go horribly wrong if care and responsibility are not taken in the production, transport, and refining of this crucial resource. The author focuses his attention on the green message put out by BP, and the original intention of being an environmentally friendly company.

Mike Magner (photo left) provides an unsettling narrative of how that green promise turned into a tragic tale of irresponsible actions, cost cutting, and alleged negligence on the part of BP. The author describes how BP was rebranding its corporate image as one of being a green company, while at the same time attempting to cover up environmental disasters. Mike Magner provides evidence that this cost cutting and negligent behavior, on the part of BP and its management, formed a pattern of how the corporation managed its business. The author also points out that there was indeed a time in BP's history, as recently as a decade ago, when the company was taking care of the environment.

Over the next few years, however, that green concern was put aside in an effort to boost short term profits. The result of this cost cutting activity, according to the author, was a disastrous leak in an Alaskan pipeline due to a lack of maintenance, of which BP was found guilty; a refinery explosion in Texas that claimed the lives of fifteen employees;and eventually the massive and widespread Deepwater Horizon explosion. The author offers further evidence, from government boards and regulators, that all of these disasters could have been prevented, but instead BP chose to save time and to cut corners on safety regulations and standards.

For me, the power of the book is how Mike Magner provides comprehensive and fully documented analysis, of how the behavior of a multinational corporation had a widespread effect on people, communities, entire countries, and even the planet. The author provides an insightful description of the flawed business culture, and shortsighted decision making, that led to the catastrophes outlined in the book. The impact of those disasters affected not only the BP employees who tragically lost their lives, but they also had a direct effect on the lives of people in the area as well. The environmental damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion has devastated the fishing and tourism industries of the Gulf region. The result has been a weakened economy, and a severe environmental problem that will last for decades.

Mike Magner sounds an important alarm that cost cutting to cut corners on regulations and standards, in the name of short term profits, led directly to environmental disasters and loss of life. The lesson for other companies, as well as for BP, is that not only following but exceeding the regulations, is a sound financial as well as environmental practice. Ethical and environmentally sound business is good business, and that the human, environmental, and economic price is simply too high for negligence and irresponsible business decisions.

I highly recommend the seminal and important investigative journalism based book Poisoned Legacy: The Human Cost of BP's Rise to Power by Mike Magner, to anyone in business leadership, public policy, the environmental movement, or the general public who seeks an in depth and unflinching case study of the high cost of corporate negligence. This book is a call to all people that human life and the world in which we live are more important than short term profits. Indeed, the pursuit of those immediate gains results in long term pain for everyone involved, both within and outside of the company.

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