Don't Let Time Dilute Outrage Over BP Gulf Spill

Ian Sacs's picture

Just because our media-ravenous culture inundates us with more news than we can stomach doesn't mean we should give up on the long term prospects of the BP catastrophe.  As the poorly secured well beneath the exploded BP rig Deepwater Horizon continues its high-pressure torrent of not-yet-quantified-but-something-in-the-order-of-tens-to-hundreds-of-thousand-of-gallons-per-day of oil into the gorgeous waters of the Gulf of Mexico, we must not let the drone of time allow us lose sight of the result of horrendous and unforgivable destruction, weak industrial controls, and even weaker environmental morals.  We must also not ignore that efforts to "contain" the spill were devised simultaneously with an effort to spare the well.

Friends of all things pro-cleaner-environment, we have lost her.  The Gulf of Mexico!  Where I once ended long motorcycle rides across the everglades with a cool rinse in the bleach-white beaches of Naples.  Where I canoed with friends through the thousand isles to camp on a raised platform* and watched dolphins play in the bay as the sun rose lazily.  Where we joyfully watched ibis skim for lunch off a Sanibel islet.  Where Northeast retirees drive with pressed shirts hung upon a bar that stretches across the back seat of their Cadillacs.  Where the Congress of New Urbanism located its prized jewel.  Where Forrest Gump made his fortunes with Bubba!  Where Robert DiNero escaped police by hiding just beneath the crystal shore's surface in a modern rendition of Great Expectations (what, you didn't see it?). Where pirates invented bacon (Boucaneers, anyone?).**

The Gulf is an innocent virgin sacrifice to the volcano of introverted industrial greed; but what have we asked of the gods in return?If a humble query of the gods was accidentally omitted during the arduous process of tossing the Gulf of Mexico into the volcano, then I propose this: "Dear Gods of the Volcano of Introverted Industrial Greed, please take our immaculate virgin Gulf of Mexico as a sacrifice in return for a meager and humble request of your Greatness to consider a rational energy policy that eschews the conservative pundit nonsense of statistical fakers like Robert Bryce*** and embraces the idea that each human being should work towards a balance of modest energy generation and conservation.  Oh, and if you could possibly let the pelicans make it through the sacrificial ceremony that would be really nice because I was hoping to bring my son to the beach when he's old enough and make silly faces with him imitating the way they stand around on the docks looking for easy fish to catch."

*Tangential Story: We stood in line at the National Park Service Ranger Station to rent canoes and reserve a camping platform named "Kingston".  When it was our turn and we announced the location, the girl in line behind us asked in a burst of surprise, "You're canoeing to Jamaica?"

**This is entirely false, but for weeks before I came to learn that James Michener had a tendency to redefine history in his novels, I thought this "fact" in his book Caribbean fascinating.

***Much apologies for two book references and three asterisks in one post, but a friend recently gave me Bryce's Power Hungry and although I'm only half way through it (I need long periods of time to recover from the hilarity/nausea it brings me), I am ready to petition the publisher to hire someone – anyone – with a lick of common sense to read at least one page of their drafts before moving ahead to publishing because clearly the editors are NOT interested in a fact-based publication, so long as the author makes claims that his view is fact-based and full of "simple physics and mathematics".  I can sum up this book (or half of it) in one sentence; he says "Americans are stupid, they don't understand math or statistics, so I'm going to confuse them with a bunch of units-talk and make a bogus argument over and over in 200 pages so that by then end you like me and my perspective as much as a pop-radio tune."

Ian Sacs, P.E. is a worldwide transportation solutions consultant based in Finland.



One Would Hope

Great post Ian, I'm with you 100% on this. Unfortunately, my gut tells me the gods may not be listening.

One would hope that politicians and voters would take away an important lesson on the need for a coherent, rational and sustainable energy policy in light of the disaster in the Gulf. I wouldn't bet on it though.

Environmentalism takes a back seat to economics every time. We'll see a push for a less oil-intensive, less energy-intensive energy policy and stronger industrial regulations for the next couple of months until some event, market force, or fluctuation pushes the cost of oil and gas back up to 2008 levels or higher. Everyone's an environmentalist until it affects their life. Until they can't afford the trip to the cottage in Cape Cod, until the gas for their 90 minute commute costs more than their car note, until they can't buy something they really really want because so much of their income is going into the gas tank of their car.

Every time this happens, and we've seen it happen before, concern for the environment goes out the window while we all join in for a chorus of "Drill Baby, Drill".

I truly hope this time is different, but I believe the memories of this spill will fade, the way the lessons of the 70's energy crises have been washed away, like the lessons of Exxon Valdez have been wasted, and like the memories of skyrocketing gas prices from just two years ago have already faded.

Ian Sacs's picture

Ian Sacs' Reply

Tharne, don't lose hope! For a dose of rational optimism, have at Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States". We can overcome much more than energy legislation; see today's the US/Algeria game for proof!


See Ghana US?
I suggest "The telling" by Ursula Laguin. It is a Science Fiction novel about the collision of material and spiritual drives. As anyone can observe from the proliferation of yoga, vegetarian diet, etc as well as the ever rising power of corporations, these two trends are on a collision path that can only be brought about faster by a disaster due to climate change or sooner by another human made disaster of global proportion. Until then, I amuse myself by watching the tea party.

Ian Sacs's picture

Ian Sacs' Reply

touche, alabidi! did you catch economist's clever play on words with their "mad tea party" cover last week:

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