BP spill is terrible, but on the whole oil makes life better

So much has been written on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It is indeed a tragedy of monumental proportions and it has given environmentalists and those who seem to despise human economic progress a convenient issue to hammer with on the issues of global warming and pollution, not to mention capitalism in general.

But, as columnist Jeff Jacoby writes, despite the spill, life without oil would be even more tragic than the spill now polluting the gulf.

As Jacoby summarizes:

Of course there are problems created by oil, as the Deepwater Horizon calamity so heartbreakingly demonstrates. But most things of great value come with downsides. There are 40,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year, but no rational person suggests doing away with cars, trucks, and highways. Airplanes sometimes crash and boats sometimes sink, but air and sea travel are not derided as “addictions’’ we need to break. Deaths due to hospital infections, medication errors, or unnecessary surgery number in the scores of thousands annually, but who would recommend an end to medical care?