On a beach in Southern California

The dolphins show up pretty much every day, three or four of them at a time, surfing through the waves, not far from the surfers. It still surprises me, to see them so close to the shore. Their presence and behavior suggests their is still fish around here – even though the water is not very clean, sewage spills and beach closures happen quite often – but of course the situation cannot be compared to what is going on in the Gulf right now. I think of the dolphins there, and the pelicans, the fish, and all the little animals that are dying, as the oil continues to flow. I think of BP’s promises “to make it right”. How exactly would they do that? Setting up a bank account for the pelicans, the dolphins and the fish? Sending condolences? This whole business is like letting a serial killer go on, unchecked, just because he cleans up nicely after himself or sends a check to the victims families. No amount of money can ever bring back whole ecosystems for a catastrophe like this. No amount of money could bring back the ancient redwoods that have been cut or the rainforests that have been burned to the ground. The logic is all twisted here. Let’s allow these companies to do their business / poisoning the environment, clear cutting forests, causing cancer in people, in animals etc./ and then maybe ask them to set up an account for compensation and declare it a victory when they pay a few million dollars for the damages they caused. They continue to claim that what they do is safe, and that their technology is so advanced now, nothing bad can happen…Funny, with all this advanced technology, for months they still cannot figure out a way to stop the flow of the oil. There is a very good article by Naomi Klein(the author of Shock Doctrine and No Logo) on the subject of the oil spill,

(this is the link to the article) in which she points out, that contrary to our beliefs we have very little control over the processes in nature: “This Gulf coast crisis is about many things – corruption, deregulation, the addiction to fossil fuels. But underneath it all, it’s about this: our culture’s excruciatingly dangerous claim to have such complete understanding and command over nature that we can radically manipulate and re-engineer it with minimal risk to the natural systems that sustain us. But as the BP disaster has revealed, nature is always more unpredictable than the most sophisticated mathematical and geological models imagine.” You think that this would serve as a lesson of some kind, but apparently, no. There is still a push for more drilling, even in those states that are affected by this disaster. “The flow of denial shows no sign of abating either. Louisiana politicians indignantly oppose Obama’s temporary freeze on deepwater drilling, accusing him of killing the one big industry left standing now that fishing and tourism are in crisis. Palin mused on Facebook that “no human endeavour is ever without risk”, while Texas Republican congressman John Culberson described the disaster as a “statistical anomaly”. By far the most sociopathic reaction, however, comes from veteran Washington commentator Llewellyn King: rather than turning away from big engineering risks, we should pause in “wonder that we can build machines so remarkable that they can lift the lid off the underworld”.” ( Naomi Klein) Yes, we are really awesome.

And then last night I stumbled upon an article by Mike Kaulbars  (you can read it on newsjunkiepost ) who spins around the question, and asks: What if there had been no spill? What would have happened if the oil had gone into the tankers and onto their destination to become fertilizers, solvents, gasoline, plastic products? Where would it end up eventually? Pretty much at the same place. In the ocean. In the bodies of animals. In the bodies of humans. “The extraction of oil is a catastrophe whether it goes as according to plan or not. We are not talking about whether we save the Gulf or not – we are quibbling about whether we get to use the oil before it kills off the oceans. That is the only thing that is at issue. Either way we destroy the Gulf, so can we please stop pretending otherwise?”, says Kaulbars and he is right, of course. The real catastrophe, which he is drawing our attention, is the continued use of oil and our unwillingness to change our habits, our lifestyles, our consumption.


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