Saturday, June 5, 2010

Deep Water Horizon

By Tom Kando

Is the Gulf Oil spill the beginning of the Apocalypse? Armageddon? Is there anything left to say about the disaster? I believe that there is.

1) For one thing, the magnitude of the catastrophe bears repeating - over and over again: the oil is escaping at a rate of up to a million gallons a day. This is not just the worst environmental disaster in US history. It may become the worst one in world history.

2) We read a lot about the poor pelicans, ducks and dolphins dying. Terrible, indeed.

3) We also hear about the terrible economic losses - in jobs, to the shrimp industry, to the people in the region, to the US taxpayers, to BP, to the consumer, etc. Crass partisans such as Bobby Jindal, the conservative Republican governor of Louisiana, suddenly finds that the federal government should do more, after clamoring for years that the government should butt out and give business a free reign... Our culture does what it is accustomed to do: Reducing all problems to, and measuring their severity by, their $$$$ cost.

4) But the Gulf Oil spill is much more than that: What is going on there is the destruction of the earth, of Gaia. Gaia is a living organism. We humans are killing it. Gaia is the host and we are the virus, the parasite. Host and virus often live in symbiosis. We have done this for millions of years. American Indians are always depicted as having mastered this art. But sometimes, the virus (e.g. the Ebola) is dumb and it kills its host. We have become a dumb virus.

5) In the Gulf, we are not just killing pelicans and dolphins. We are now killing all life. We are causing havoc below the Ocean surface. We are killing everything, in a swath of the Atlantic thousands of feet deep, thousands of square miles, and expanding.

6) Places, lakes, islands, lands, oceans, even planets can die. Just like people. A few years ago I was on a train traveling along the shore of Lake Champlain. I looked at the large, pretty green/blue lake. But you know what? It was dead, gone, finished. There was nothing left but algae. Some years earlier, Lake Erie had also been declared dead. And now we are taking on the Atlantic Ocean. Our quest to eradicate life on Earth becomes bolder.

7) I would have hoped that the Gulf oil spill would be a wake-up call, like TMI and Chernobyl. Just as those accidents contributed heavily to the (near-)demise of the nuclear industry, the Gulf oil spill could be a major nail in Big Oil’s coffin, forcing us to wean ourselves from oil. It doesn’t look like it

8) We are the dwellers of the Easter Islands in Jared Diamond’s "Collapse." Who will be the last man alive, cutting down the last tree, and then crawling away to die? leave comment here