It's been called Obama's Katrina.
It's been called Obama's 9/11.
It's been called both by Peter Daou.
I don't know if all that's true.
It's a catastrophe in the making. It's already been a terrible man-made natural disaster. It's like Yellowstone destroyed by forest fires, caused by human neglect and mismanagement. A natural treasure destroyed.
We don't know how this is going to end. If we do somehow manage to stop the leak, it's going to be the result of tremendous engineering and a considerable amount of good luck.
But I don't think of Katrina - a natural disaster with a disastrously neglectful response by President Bush.
I don't think of 9/11 - an event caused by terrorists.
What comes to mind for me is Apollo 13.
Apollo 13 was a tremendous accomplishment of human ingenuity - a mission to land a manned spacecraft on the lunar surface. The very idea still boggles my mind. But Apollo 13 was a failed mission. An oxygen leak caused damage to the lunar module and no one knew how to deal with it. A small engineering failure caused a huge crisis, and no one knew how to respond.
But NASA engineers worked with the astronauts aboard the ship to figure out a way to both stop the leak and help the astronauts to survive. It meant that the Apollo 13 mission would not be accomplished - no one was going to land on the moon. Trying to get the spacecraft re-aligned to slingshot around the moon and return home safely would require tremendous skill and a lot of luck.
No one knew if it was going to work. And there were several minutes of radio silence when no one knew if Apollo 13 was going to get through the re-entry process.
They made it home.
They found a solution and they made it home.
I don't know if or when this spill will be stopped.
But I'm praying it happens on Wednesday evening.
There are still plenty of lessons to be learned. But before the teaching happens, we need to stop the leak.