A hundred days after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon launched one of the worst environmental catastrophes in American history, things are looking up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil is no longer spewing from the crippled well, and early indications are that the massive volume of petroleum already released into the sea is dissolving with unexpected swiftness. BP's hapless English chief executive, Tony Hayward, will be replaced by an American, Robert Dudley. The company's chairman assures investors that BP is "taking a hard look at ourselves." And the Justice Department is investigating the spill.

As is so often the case after such horrific mishaps, the world seems forever changed - until we realize the world doesn't change so easily. It was following the Gulf disaster, after all, that Congress failed to adopt a system for putting a price on carbon emissions, which might in some modest way curtail our voracious appetite for fossil fuels - and the planet-warming gases they produce. BP has a lot to answer for, but the sad fact is that we are the ones who put the SUV on the LIE, and there is every indication we plan to keep it there.

Better regulation of offshore drilling is vital, as are more responsible drillers, if another BP-style tragedy is to be avoided. But the greatest tragedy of all would be for us to get over this, shaking our heads, and then go back to business as usual. hN