Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Slippery When Wet

We can’t impede progress in the name of environmental action that yields little for the environment and even less for our people.. and we should look at the environment as an economic opportunity. – Meg Whitman

As we enter the 60th day of the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico it has been amazing to me the outcry that has occurred from all camps concerning the responses to the crisis. The one which has troubled me the most has been the criticism which has been directed at the president. Let us be clear this disaster was masterminded and created by the profit seeking British Petroleum and they should be held responsible for all aspects of this disaster. My concern is with those who believe unrealistically that this or any president can somehow plug up a hole in the gulf that is 40 miles off-shore and a mile deep. Or that we have the technology to respond to such a disaster somewhere on a shelf somewhere and we are just not using it. The truth is that the majority of this country has been asleep on the possibility of a disaster like this because of our dependence on fossil fuels and the marketing of big oil.

Many of the critics have suggested the President institute special powers such as the war powers given during a state of attack by foreign powers or terrorists. The problem with these suggestions is that they ignore the reality of our current political state or the current state of our judiciary, specifically the Supreme Court which has shown recently its propensity for corporate bidding. Have these critics so easily forgotten the mantra of the right for the last two years that President Obama is a socialist looking to privatize all industry and undermine our way of life. Now they are suggesting that this same president seize BP to insure their compliance even temporarily is absurd. Not to mention the fallout from the oil industry lobbyists and their congressional minions. Does anyone think that this Supreme Court would allow such tactics without taking action to prevent it?

I understand that this is an environmental disaster of monumental proportions but let’s not be naïve enough to believe that the criticism from the teabaggers stoked by their Astroturf benefactors would somehow be silent because this is a national disaster. While for most Americans this is a tragedy of historical proportions for these folks it is just another opportunity to fault the President and his administration for not safeguarding our country. Unfortunately when disasters of this magnitude occur many folks are unable to get their heads around it and so they become overwhelmed and desensitized to the suffering of others. As a nation we have become more regional and isolated from each other and so if these types of things don’t directly affect us we tend to compartmentalize them as someone else problem and so it is difficult to craft national responses or national outrage. While those in the gulf and environmentalists understand the depth of the disaster there will be those who will attempt to minimize the human and environmental toll on this nation.

The tragedy in the gulf demonstrates our false reliance on technology or our belief in technology and how we have convinced ourselves that technology can and will solve all of our challenges. Many critics believe we have the technology to plug a hole in the ocean as if it were some hole in the bathtub to be plugged by so much silicone. Should we have had in place safety precautions to deal with this tragedy? Of course we should have been more vigilant in holding these corporations to higher safety standards, but let’s not forget that for years we have allowed these corporations to skirt safety and write their own rules. The answer to this disaster is not to criticize this President but to put in place the regulatory mechanisms to prevent future disasters and to hold BP responsible for the entire restoration and financial liability for this one. But let’s not kid ourselves into believing that those forces who want to keep us dependent on fossil fuels will go quietly into that good night.

Here are a few quotes that demonstrate willingness of these paid clowns to sacrifice the rest of us for their short-term gain.

"What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I'm just noting the timing, here." —Rush Limbaugh

"Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country's energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It's catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it." —Sarah Palin

"From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented." —Texas Gov. Rick Perry

If the firms that employ an increasing majority of the population are driven solely to satisfy the owner's greed at the expense of working conditions, of the stability of the community, and of the health of the environment, chances are that the quality of our lives will be worse than it is now. - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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