I've been avoiding the gulf oil spill. This is no easy task.
Coverage is everywhere and growing more shrill and panicked by the day. Ed Shultz is shouting at the top of his lungs, Tamron Hall is running her coffee fueled mouth at 1500 words a minute, and poor little Bobby Jindal is talking with increased frustration about the lack of Coast Guard and federal response, looking like he might burst into tears at any moment. I feel his pain.
CNN, C-span, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, and PBS are all whooping, hollering, and stamping their feet helplessly. Yep. Senate hearings on capitol hill feature photos of oiled pelicans and movies about copepods, diatoms, terns, whales and dolphins, while scientists give grim testimony to the far reaching effects of BP's tragedy on oxygen production, the loss of vital coastal ecosystems, and even land mass. Yep, a real tragedy.
Well, what did you expect? You remember those silly kids in the bright colors with the dreads and granola? They warned you.
You remember those geeky-looking scientists the oil companies used to make fun of, trying to marginalize their research as the worst possible scenario, and themselves as gloom and doom naysayers? They warned you too.
You remember those people who were here long before you came on the scene, and who had a history of living with, not just on, the Earth? Do you remember what they told you about treating our mother? Do you remember how you discounted their knowledge as inferior and the superstitions of a marginalized and defeated people? They warned you as well.
Do you remember the former president the press and pundits liked (and still like) to vilify? You know, the peanut farmer from Georgia who tried to move the country toward a better energy policy? Few people would listen to him. He tried to warn you as well. The solar panels he had installed on the White House were removed by his successor who spoke of "Morning in America." Well, it's morning in America, alright.
Now here you sit—here we all sit. Wringing your hands because the industry that assured you they had everything well in hand, and needed no regulation or oversight, has been revealed to know absolutely nothing about solving the problem their own shortcutting and fraudulent practices has created. Suddenly everyone wants the federal government to "get involved." And do what? With what?
We were all so enamored of our own technological prowess, that we convinced ourselves that there was no problem we couldn't solve. BP bought ads featuring flowers and happy smiling faces, while assuring less and less regulation, oversight, and environmental consideration was the price of doing business. All the while having no clue, and no equipment to handle anything close to this scenario, which I might add is a man-made event. The earth has not shaken, sheared or stirred. Hurricanes did not induce this fouling of our coastline. Well, duh!
(Yelling now) Did you think the oil industry was looking out anything beyond their bottom line and production schedules? We were warned repeatedly from multiple sources and in multiple ways about the dangers of offshore drilling. We are currently drilling wells at greater depths than the site of this current disaster. Have the we done due diligence on any other well? Has the company bother to "change the batteries" on those devices? Was an inspector present (and not bribed to look the other way) on these other drilling sites? Let's just trust oil companies to do what they say they are going to do. That works, doesn't it?
As awful and hideous and sick as the fouling of our coastal areas is, with all the chances to safeguard our environment we passed up, don't we now deserve exactly what we are getting? We gambled and lost. We are, of course making the fishermen, the pelicans, the sea turtles, the crabs, and the ocean pay for our mistake. Don't we always? We rolled the dice and up popped snake eyes!
I was trained as an ecologist. I know all too well what some of the ramifications of a large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be. That's why I have to look away. I can't bear it. My heart can't bear it. If I had some way to take positive action, it might help. But to remain a helpless witness to the results of other peoples greed, negligence, and stupidity is simply too much. I can't do it.
Will the lesson of our arrogance be learned and carried to other risky endeavors—particularly nuclear power and nuclear waste? When will we hear and heed the voices of indigenous people throughout the world? What kind of maladies or tragedies must befall us before we can shed this albatross of arrogance we voluntarily donned about our neck? How many more times must we say to the universe, "Please kick me in the head," before we get it, and start caring for this earth the way we know damn well we should?