Saturday, May 29, 2010

Let's Talk About Oil and America

I'm not seeing many bloggers I know touch on the subject of the Gulf oil spill. It is a sensitive issue, so realizing that, I'll just jump in blind and irrate and full of emotion, and anyone stopping by can feel how you want--but for God's sake, FEEL SOMETHING.

I see a great lack of feeling from the government--a "this too shall pass" anitpathy. Some are tossing around the idea Obama is Bush 2, in relation to the latter president's treatment of a certain hurricane a short while back. But, this is nothing new. A president--a politician--must constantly straddle as many lines as possible, that's what the job entails. To a degree. I might even say a congressperson or senator should straddle even fewer lines, since, theoretically, they directly represent local / state interests at the larger federal level.

It's clear there is a massive sense of anguish, pain, sorrow, and frustration right now. I only pray, that this event, coupled with the economy, may do something to change America's course. I honestly see alternative energy development--along with the needed refined infrastructure to make it happen--as a key development in our economic recovery and future political / social / cultural stability and evolution. I'd like to see some of that post world war swagger come back when it comes to technological innovation, national pride, and international cooperation.

Here's what it comes down to for me. Ready? I want to see as many dead fish and birds wash up along the Gulf coast as possible. I want to see fisherman and other dependent industries go belly up. I want to see the everglades and other coastal marshes destroyed. I want to see another hurricane wash up past those vanished defenses of marshes and do their worst. Maybe then we will end our complacency and denial and isolationism, but it must be a total and complete reckoning.

I want to see every elected official in this country serve no more than one term UNLESS they do something about our country's lack of identity and potential. No one should vote for an incumbant, no matter party affiliation. Heck, at this point, aren't we almost beyond party affiliation? I vote "democrat" on some issues, "republican" on others, and "green" on yet more. Yes, this is rage, and it also hopelessness--a potentially deadly combination that has historicaly lead to the end of cultures.

The point is, no one should stay in office if they aren't cooperating with other elected officials while listening to, and performing the will of, those who directly elected them. Accountability. I lose my job if I underperform to my employer's expectations. Simple. So freaking simple.

I don't really want to see families starve, businesses wiped out, a massive eosystem destroyed--and likely none of this will stay in the gulf if we have to wait for a relief well to be dug in a month.

I know some will find this post naive and simplistic, but irrational anger often is. Such an emotion is also a beginning. Our dependence on oil, foreign and domestic, is destroying our emotional, psychological, and physical well being. This dependence is also eroding, if not pounding one of the last nails into the coffin, of our American spirit and identity. We can't truly be a free and democratic society until we balance our pursuit of life and liberty with that of all the other life on this planet--life which we depend upon in countless tangible and intangible ways. This balance can be done.

Maybe anger and pain and sorrow are the first signs of some greater hope we have yet to realize. Can they be?


allanbecker-gardenguru said...

One of the attributes of a democracy is that the vote of those that opt to do nothing counts as much as the vote of those that want to get things done.

Oil is still the blood that flows through the veins of an industrial society. For every person who considers the oil spill to be a toxic blight on our health, there is another who views the spill as an unfortunate but understandable blip in an ongoing essential commercial enterprise.

In order to keep our planet safe from further toxic accidents, we need to find a way to make oil production either optional or irrelevant. Until then, nothing will change and one should expect business to go on as usual.

Although I apologize for being cynical, I do feel strongly that in the real world, money talks louder than ideals.

Susan in the Pink Hat said...

To answer your injunction to "FEEL SOMETHING," I have not posted about the oil spill because from the start, I vowed my blog would be about my relationship with my garden. Not me and my most recent vacation, not me and my home remodel, not me and my kids, not me and my green soapbox; there's a place for those discussions, and I have chosen for them to not be on my blog. Sure, all these things affect my garden directly in many ways, and if you read between the lines, you can definitely catch glimpses of where I stand on those issues, like peeking through slats in a fence. But just because I don't make a post about it, doesn't mean I don't feel antipathy towards something or at worst complacence, as you suggest. My garden is my sanctuary where I have immunity from the madding world. If nature takes it, so be it, but it will not be because I first breached those walls.

Benjamin Vogt said...

AB--You are right, money talks. And so if it does, why can't we speak the language in theright way? I see money thrown at an economic system in the wrong way. Let's send 700 billion to companies developing alternative energy sources, to car companies, to infrstructure to carry electricity from the middle of nowhere (and windy) South Dakota to the big city. The spill was inevitable, and I'd bet more large ones will occur. How many smaller ones do we never hear about? Hundred a year?
SPH--I didn't mean to imply anything about other bloggers in a negative way, just that I was surprised the topic wasn't a fuzz more widespread. I understand your garden and your blog--I struggle with focused subject material as well as garden as escape. But the more I garden, the more that escape isn't and escape--it's more a microcosm, it's me trying to do what I wish the government or states, or cities would do, and can do. My one spot. Is it a refuge? A utopia? An island? A last gasp? I just find the disconnect more frightening between my garden and the world--flowers are the world. I don't want to shut myself away mentally, physically yes, spiritually yes, so I can go back out and live the garden example and fight the fight in some way.

Steve said...

America was founded on the conquest of a wilderness continent and a genocide of which Native Americans were the victims. So in my book the only really notable detail of the oil catastrophe in the gulf is that it's happening right now. It's our contribution to a history of violence against the land. Before we end our addiction to oil, we'd better end our addiction to thinking of ourselves as Ken Burns thinks of us--as special, divine, better than everyone else. We haven't changed a goddamn bit.

Victoria Summerley said...

I feel a bit embarrassed commenting as the company responsible for this is British. I can tell you many of us Brits are deeply ashamed about this.
Watching that oil gushing out of the leak and seeping onto all those pristine habitats is like watching a car crash many times over.
I think there is a danger that people may think: "Why should I switch off lights/walk instead of taking the car/recycle my garbage when some oil company comes along and pollutes the whole place anyway?" So I'm going to be much more vigilant about my own carbon footprint. Then at least I'll feel I'm doing SOMETHING.

Diana Studer said...

(I did post about this on the 19th. Back when it was several times LESS awful than it is today.)

Another option would be solar power in Arizona and Florida to fuel all the aircon and tumbledriers.

David in Kansas said...

I stand with Benjamin on this one. Let's spend a year's worth of Iraq war on alternative energy and sit back and marvel at what we can accomplish. I must be a realist however. We live in an age where Monsanto can take me to court over this comment. Where Monsanto and the oil companies spend their waking hours lobbying every Congressman and Senator. Who speaks for the alternative energy folks? This oil spill is just one of many to come. My letter to the Kansas representatives was probably summarized by an intern and quickly ignored as soon as Big oil showed up for their daily lobby.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Steve--I do find SOME merit to Ken Burns and his views on us, but it does only go so far. I just watched There Will Be Blood--hated it by the way--but it seemed an aprt metaphor for the current climate. It astounds me how corporate lobbyists own Washington, and we delude ourselves thinking we are in a democracy. Democracy does not exist.
Victoria--gotta do something, yes! I don't feel any ill will toward Brits because it's BP, we are all in this together, and it was inevitable (and it does happen all the time but in smaller amounts). The story leads off the national news each day, and even over th elast few days it's incredible how BP, or the feds, don't have a clue on what to do.
EE--I'm all for solar farms! I think I read that to supply the whole U.S., at least, it would take a farm as big as Arizona. I'm sure it'd be less for other countries in the world who aren't as arrogant abotu pwoer consumption.
David--Yeah, how is that Monsanto lawsuit working out for you? I'm with you though, too much a realist, and we all know your letter has been squashed to bits.

Pam said...

I'm writing a grant to work on the Gulf spill. It's weird - my past research experience with oil is coming back to haunt me - not in a good way, but in the oh-shit-I-can't-know-this-stuff-and-not-jump-in-way. I find it painful.