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Disaster in the Gulf: What this SHOULD BE.

June 8, 2010

There was a reason I consciously avoided reading or viewing anything that had to do with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

When I did start paying attention, as I knew I would be, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of hopelessness… and utter utter sorrow.

I am also very angry. The oil companies did next to nothing to address how they would deal with an oil spill as they delved deeper and deeper into our oceans. There is a clear history of avoiding regulation and ignoring problems – of “a corporate philosophy that it was cheaper to operate to failure and then deal with the problem later rather than do preventive maintenance.” I am absolutely disgusted that they were given access to a public resource, and spent no energy, relative to that spent on increasing profits, on how to keep that public, and our other resources, safe from disaster.

In general, my anger can be summed up by this excellent clip (please watch).

For the most part, the depth of my emotions rendered me speechless. I was at a complete loss for words.

And then I found some.

Because there was more to it than that, as I read and listened to others respond. There was more that I find not only incredibly irritating, but also incredibly sad.

This is not political.

This is not about left and right.

This is not about free enterprise.

This is not about painting me as a treehugger (ok guilty as charged). We are not angry and upset and deeply affected by this because we’re left-wing socialists who hate capitalism.

You know what this SHOULD BE?

This SHOULD BE bipartisan.

This SHOULD BE something WE AS AMERICANS are outraged and deeply saddened by – ALL OF US.

This SHOULD BE something that makes our leaders, both left and right, DEMAND more from those that are allowed access to our public resources and those that can put us, and the world we cherish, at risk.

This SHOULD BE something that, if our leaders don’t act, we AS AMERICANS DEMAND they do something about – TOGETHER WITH ONE VOICE.

This SHOULD BE something we ALL require accountability for – from companies that make more money than any other company in the world (according to Fortune 500, 4 of the 5 most profitable companies in the world are oil and gas companies – BP is number 5 IN THE WORLD).

This SHOULD BE something that makes us FINALLY realize the consequences of what we do to our environment.

This SHOULD BE something that makes us realize conservation and environmentalism ARE NOT left-wing anti-capitalism neo-hippie obsessions. These things ARE NOT partisan either. They are NECESSARY. This is YOUR PLANET too.

This SHOULD BE something that causes us to not just ask for but DEMAND clean energy, and effective public transportation.

This SHOULD BE something that means you go out and buy a bike. That makes you realize you CAN walk the mile to work or that the subway IS a great alternative.

This SHOULD BE something that makes US look at the way we live OUR lives. What we eat. Where we shop. What we consume – AND what we throw away. Oil is used for FAR MORE than filling your gas tank.

This SHOULD BE something that actually UNITES us AS AMERICANS.

The consequences of this disaster are going to be catastrophic. Period.

This should not have happened. Period.

Can we, please, focus on what this SHOULD BE and what it IS?

In case you need some evidence, I’m re-posting these: (original photos here)

All images are from MSNBC, full slide show can be viewed here.

An ibis takes flight from an oil-covered marsh on an island near Grand Isle, Louisiana on May 27.

"Booms try to hold off oil leaked from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead from Cat Island on May 23. Brown pelicans, spoonbills and herons nest on the island in Barataria Bay."

Oil-streaked pelican eggs.

A young heron mired in oil.


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