And now for something completely different. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. So much thinking that my head aches almost as much as my heart. I’ve been thinking about the greatest oil spill the world has ever seen, you know, that gargantuan mess we keep hearing about in the Gulf of Mexico. And yes, I am furious at British Petroleum. They clearly did not have adequate protection for this type of accident. They were apparently too greedy to take the time to answer the question “What if….”. They failed miserably at the old Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”. They were so unprepared that millions and millions of individual lives will perish. No, not the human kind, but life, whether human or not, is very precious. Shrimp, sea turtles, gulls, pelicans, fish, insects, and you name it, will perish because of a company that cares more about money than the environment.
But it’s much more than this. BP is not only extinguishing life, they are eradicating the fabric of life in a very sensitive environment. What is the fabric of life, you ask? Well, it is the intricate relationship that holds the living universe together. Remarkably it has nothing to do with money. Perhaps that is why British Petroleum overlooked this major issue. If it had something to do with profits or putting their stock holders in a better position the issue would have been fully explored. The fabric of life is the unique interdependency that living things have with each other and the non-living elements of the planet. Oil is a toxin that snuffs out these relationships. It is a biological poison. Enough said. But the fact that humans tend to overlook the reality that our very lives are dependent upon a healthy and productive ecosystem says something all by itself. That statement says we are either terribly ignorant of horrifically stupid. How can an intelligent living species think it is OK to soil its’ own nest. Worse, how can we believe that there is any justification for this behavior?
Don’t get me wrong. BP is not the only party responsible here. Look to your government. Have they adequately protected the Gulf of Mexico, its’ estuaries and beaches which are all national treasures? Was the Government adequately prepared? If any statement can be made relative to our government’s response it is that it has been anemic. Some would say there has been almost no response at all. Sure, the Coast Guard is doing its very best job in monitoring the situation, and they have been very active in trying to secure oil booms and other necessary items to help with the crisis. But the fact remains our government has left British Petroleum in charge of correcting the problem. It’s kind of like letting bank robbers stay in the bank after a failed robbery. What do they do? They count the money they’ll never get to spend and take hostages. The robbers have no real solution and neither does BP.
Why on earth is our federal government acting so helpless? Why does it sit on the side lines and pretend to be angry but do not much of anything? The answer is simple. Our government is controlled by a large group of politicians who have received tens of millions of dollars from the oil industry. All legal contributions, mind you, but money in the bank so to speak. These campaign contributions, believe it or not, creates debt; a debt that is owed by our elected officials to the big corporations. It’s not just the big oil companies, but all major corporations. Remember how quickly our government officials reacted to pay for the mistakes of big banks and financial institutions recently? There is no real coincidence here.
The problem is this. Our government belongs to all of us; the citizens of this great country, the United States of America. Or at least that’s the way it was supposed to be. Instead it belongs not to the voters that elect representation, but to the corporations that finance elections. And it goes well beyond our electoral system; Washington DC is absolutely chuck full of lobbyists that are bending your congressman’s ear. There are far more lobbyists representing big money in Washington than there are elected officials representing you and I. Ever try to get a Congressman’s or Senator’s attention? It ain’t easy. Recently I wrote to both of my US Senators, my Congressman, and the President of the United States. I wrote about my deep concerns about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I pleaded with them to sponsor legislation to do something about it. I even made some modest suggestions as to how we might proceed. I also asked each one how much money they had received from big oil in their campaign coffers. I specifically requested a prompt response. Guess what? Not one of my elected officials responded. It’s been a couple of weeks. I’m a patient guy. They will probably get around to me after going to dinner with execs from a big oil company, right?
My next set of letters will be a formal request, asking again the question about campaign contributions, and stating that I am requesting this information under the “Freedom of Information Act” That might get their attention but there are no guarantees. I’m probably being very foolish. On second thought expecting our elected officials to follow the law is a ridiculous notion.
My biggest disappointment, believe it or not, is not with British Petroleum of with our federal government. No, my biggest disappointment is with the American people. Day after day we receive the bad news. Each and every day it is worse than the day before. There is oil everywhere and no end to the leaking in sight. There are countless dead and dying wild species. There are thousands of people who have lost their jobs. Let me restate that. They have lost their livelihoods. There is damage occurring to our natural shorelines that will take decades to undue. And now we hear there are large numbers of people getting sick. There seems to be no end to this bad news and the bottom line it is our own fault. OUR FAULT? Yes, that’s right. Each and every one of us is a little responsible for this greatest of all environmental tragedies. How, you might ask? Well the answer is pretty simple. We are a nation of energy gluttons. We drive too many vehicles too many miles, we have grown accustomed and accepted every item in our lives being wrapped in plastic two or three times, and we build large homes that could hold at least a dozen people when only two or three live in these monstrosities. Some people even own two. We are a nation of people who live in houses heated to high temperatures in the winter and cooled to cold temperatures in the summer. We consume way more than we produce. We use a large percentage of the world’s resources and give little back. Worse, we do all this and show almost no guilt. Somehow we seem to forget that the world has finite resources. Somehow we seem to feel we do not need to share them with the poor of our planet. Somehow we neglect to think about future generations. I’m really not sure how we got to this point, but it sure seemed like it happened very quickly. In my short lifetime we have gone from one car, two bed room homes, grow your own food or buy it locally families to none of the above.
That last statement is not completely fair. There are many in the United States that do without. Some do without because they choose to, and others do without because they have no money or means. In either case, given all of the above, it is a noble condition. Those of you who fit into these categories are not to blame.
As bad as the Gulf crisis is, there is something worse. You may have heard of it. It’s often referred to as Global Warming. Or maybe you’ve heard it called Climate Change. Look it up. You might want to Google it. I’m guessing you’ll get a few hits. Different problem; same cause as outlined above. And while you’re at it that try Googling something else. Try looking up the meaning of Homo sapien. It means “knowing man” or “wise man”.
Kind of ironic, no?