Argue that the BP Oil Spill was the most important story of the decade, showing its lasting effect on our society.
I think for those that live in the region of the country that were most affected by the spill it will be the biggest story of the decade. It has had a much larger impact on those that depend on the Gulf Region for their livelihood and depend on the natural resources to put food on their tables.
Oil spills happen from time to time, and Americans (humans in general) tend to have very short memories where they are concerned. That is, they don't tend to permanently change American consumption habits.
So the effect on our society is less about the environmental damage and devastation than it is perhaps about the dwindling resources of accessible oil that are out there. In order for the Deepwater Horizon and other drilling rigs like it to reach the oil they are aiming for, they have to begin drilling thousands of feet underwater, and then many thousands of feet more from the seafloor. It's dangerous, technically complicated and expensive. If anything, this demonstrates the depths and lengths we will go to --are going to-- in order to feed our oil addiction.
The biggest wake up call of all, in my opinion, will be when we realize that the oil we can get to is running out. How painful that will be will in part be determined by how soon we realize it, and how soon we react.
If the Deepwater Horizon oil spill comes to be seen as the biggest story of the decade, it will be because of its impact on the energy industry and Americans' use of fossil fuels. Otherwise, it will not be important for our society as a whole.
It may be that the devastation of this spill will make people rethink their energy use and will make them (and Congress) more likely to support restrictions on drilling for oil. If this happens, the impacts would be huge. A society that used less oil would be better for the environment and would be more secure. If we stop having to rely on countries like Venezuela or regions like the Middle East for oil, our society will be much more secure.
If this happens, the BP oil spill will be seen as very important. Historians may see it as a turning point that moved us towards a more energy-efficient and secure society.