Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Hate All of Us

Imagine the below images as a human baby or young child instead of wildlife. Would we do anything then? We don't deserve what we have, and we don't deserve this planet.

Let's clean the animals and send them back out to their deaths. What's the point? This is world war three, we just don't know it yet. I apologize (somewhat), but I'm just not feeling very kindly toward myself or any of us today.

What's the point in planting flowers? Writing this down here? Having this blog? What's the point of my incredible anguish and hurt and pain and sheer murderous rage toward our energy policies? I was going to post pics of iris blooms and dragonflies, but like 19th century aristocracy, the perfume won't cover up the stench.

You, too, can get that healthy bronzed look at the beach.


Diana Studer said...

It comes back to that old story. Yes, you make a place in your garden for the dragonfly. Yes you post about the dragonfly. And yes we do everything we can to reduce our dependence on oil.

To open people's eyes. Have you read How's Rob? She also has blood-curdling pictures up.

Randy Emmitt said...

Most do not get it. I share your pain and anguish!!! After hurricane Katrina I tried to go down there and help rebuild, but could not get any response from any of the sources to help, sad that an experienced carpenter like me could not help because of the red tape involved.

Did you see my recent post with the video using straw and hay for oil clean up? It works very well!

Carol said...

I believe it was Mother Theresa who said, 'We cannot do great things, only small things with great love." Keep making your garden a place for the butterflies and keep blogging. We don't know who we touch and perhaps change by the good things we do.

Steve said...

I think the trick is to continue to let these heartbreaking images humanize us by building up our compassion for those who suffer (and for those who inflict suffering). If we become hardened by our hatred and disgust, we may not be able to help those who need our help in order to change.

If this were a human baby, you ask, would we do anything different? I think the answer is clearly no, because there are children all over the world who are malnourished, diseased and dying horrible deaths from preventable causes. This is part of what it means to be alive today--we are witnessing massive ecological destruction. Not the first time it's happened here on Turtle Island, either.

Benjamin Vogt said...

EE--But we don't do everything.
Randy--I can't believe they couldn't find work for you! AFter you went down there and committed time and energy? Nuts. I'll go check out your post. I'm behind.
Carol--That's true. As is the flipside. It's amazing how many truths there are to one thing.
Steve--Yup what my mom said too. If anything, seeing an animal covered in oil does more. Turtle Island is getting ready for soup.

Benjamin Vogt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig @ Ellis Hollow said...

When I see these pictures, what comes to mind is what Walt Kelly wrote when I was in my formative years: 'We have met the enemy, and he is us.'

debsgarden said...

Every summer of my childhood we vacationed on the Gulf Coast. I still go there often. The photos you posted are heart wrenching, and it is also heart wrenching that the livelihoods of many, many people are being destroyed. I grieve for the animals, the beaches, and the people. We are all part of this planet. Hard lessons are learned, and let us hope good will eventually come of it. And let us plant a garden and make a home for the dragonfly, for we must act on our hope or there is no hope at all.

Lisa said...

Yeah, I had a few *spicy* things to say about these images over at my blog. Same sentiment, more swearing.


I know and have worked with the professionals overseeing the wildlife rehabilitation effort. They (unfortunately) know exactly how to clean and heal these animals. I heard Jay Holcombe (director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center) speaking on NPR tonight. The bird that's so gooey that you can't imagine what species it might be is in care, and so far doing quite well.

There are also great protocols in place for the sea turtles and manatees. There are people making careers of saving oiled wildlife, and I'm never sure if that's noble or pathetic.

Tammy said...

I agree with the Walt Kelley quote posted above. I have been wondering why nothing has been said by the news about how this spill is devastating the wild life.Nothing has been on TV (at least that I have seen) about lives lost, or the torturous effects on the wild life. I happened to see the pictures on AOL for the first time today. Its horrible. And i am afraid there is going to be a lifetime of damage to the planet.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain -- your passionate words brought tears. I share your "murderous rage". The photos, and others like them, are unbearably heart wrenching. We, as a planet, still don't "get it". And I fear when we do, it may already be too late.

But don't turn your back on the dragonflies and irises -- they are the faith and hope for our planet.

Scott said...

Thank everyone for their previous comments; and I can see a statue of a person pointing away from the spill at an oblique angle, stubbornly for all of us, with tears streaming down its face. We stand, stubbornly supporting life and hope, in the face of such ongoing disaster. And the tears thank you for speaking forth the anger and frustration.

Anonymous said...

I've been sitting here for a moment wondering what to say. We have seen some of those images here in Australia and the disaster is on the news here daily. I also saw a doco not so long ago about the devastation that they are still dealing with as a result of the Exxon Valdez disaster all these years later. That makes me wonder just what will happen long term with this disaster which is bigger beyond imagining and still not stopped.

But we can be conscious, we can take responsibility. We should be angry about those images, but I worry that the anger is impotent if we don't take a step to do something about it.

Yes, it is the oil companies that make lovely profits from sucking the stuff out of the earth, but it is us who madly consume all manner of pointless things that lead back to oil. We can be angry at ourselves and at our neigbours who don't seem to care, but it is us who have the luxury of a garden and choices and the relative affluence to sit and muse on a blog. It is us who can, and often do think about the micro and that leads on to the choices we make that impact on the macro.

If we all choose to think it is hopeless than it probably is. But if we all choose to start with seriously reducing our use of just one thing thing that is sourced from oil than there is a chance that next time the birds won't need cleaning in the first place.

Aagaard Farms said...

Just this morning I was on 'Huffington Post' and the pictures made me cry! What can we do? Send what little money we have to the organizations helping with clean-up? Chuck our responsibilities and drive like crazy to go help? It's an awful, powerless position. And now, experts are saying that this will affect our local birds, when they begin to migrate in the fall! It's a disaster that's going to keep on giving!!!!!! I think what we can do - keep blogging, keep posting beautiful pictures, keep talking, keep educating!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Craig--How do you defeat yourself? This is a spiritual path we must take, one of deep inward reflection and with the distracting iphone, ipad, and inuke at hand, ain't likely.
DG--I don't think hard lessons are learned, or will be learned. Let the Florida beaches turn black, let the animals die by the stadium full, let the destruction be total and complete and maybe, MAYBE as with things like 9/11 some collective will may rise up and make the world what it should and could have been decades ago.
L&R--Nobel and pathetic, and perhaps pointless. They are releasing them back into the oil to die. It's like bandaging up a soldier to go back to fight 100 tanks himself. No, it's nothing like that. It's far more hopeless.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Tammy--I just saw a reports saying there is litle chane the spill won't circumnavigate FLorida, go up the east coast to Virginia, then out into the Atlantic. How many huricanes will push it back on to and well into shore this summer? We will never know ho wmany millions of animals will die as a result of this over the decades, what deformities and diseaese will ensue. AHHH!!!!!!
Nancy--Little faith and hope now, especially if my monarchs don't show up soon and start laying eggs! I guess the winter kill was worse as bad as imagined in MX. Anyway, yesterday morning I caught my wife crying at the computer. We need to all be crying, a lot.
Scott--I'm no longer standing, I'm beaten down to my knees.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Gipp--The only way we get off oil is if it vanishes, and that means war, poverty, and a really bad hangover. I sure wouldn't mind seeing government policy shift, but too many oil lobbyists in politician's pockets, too much plastic and such we rely on. It will hurt to end oil, but if we take some substantial steps now it'll hurt a helluva lot less--it isn't brain surgery (or is it? Let's put every politician on the table and go in and rewire--the leaders who don't do somethign now will be the worst leaders in history).
Aagaard--so incredibl powerless. Even if we elect all new officials, even if the entire mindset of energy policy starts shifting, it's not enough. If Obama could somehow rally some significant policy change, the next congress or president could just reverse it with a stroke of the pen. I want to see every current politician out of work come fall if something massive isn't done to rebuild this country economically, ethically, morally, et cetera, and it all centers around alternative energy tech. Let's be American and invent, pool our resources, buckle done, have hope in our hard work and faith in our ingenuity and perservereance. Where are the leaders in this movement? Taking candy from lobbyists?

Unknown said...

I am feeling much the same as you are, Benjamin. I alternate between huge rage and overwhelming despair. What freaks me out mostly at the moment is how none of this seemed to be all that worrisome to the government, etc when it was staying in the Gulf--as if the Gulf states don't matter! But now, a tarball or two hitting precious Florida beaches, and everyone seems to be freaking out in earnest. Why in %$&*@# weren't they freaking out 6 weeks ago?? Sometimes I wish that Captain Nero and his errant Romulan ship would come through that black hole and cause us to implode in earnest. (a trekkie reference...)

I don't know what to say. I don't pray, at least not to that Judeo-Christian deity. Maybe I should pray to Walt Kelly. He had it right all those years ago.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Jodi--Gardening is prayer. The garden is a church (or mosque, or whatever). So many religions seek the same answer but in different ways, so I find them all pointing to the same center. I agree, the government was quite lax, and these fake Obama trips are, well, lame. I want Florida tarred and feathered. And I got your Trek ref. Did you know at the center of every galaxy is a black hole? Maybe it's made of oil.

janie said...

My prudent side says "Don't post, don't post!", my other side says "you must, you must".

Oh, well.

I agree with all the above. The only problem is, all the above solves nothing. The only light in the whole damned mess has been Louisianan's governor. The feds have been less than adequate, BP has been less than candid. And I am being extremely generous with those descriptions.

We have to have oil. At least until we have an alternative to oil, we have to drill for it somewhere. The fact that drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has been pushed out to depths of 5+ miles shows poor planning, in my opinion. If this had happened in shallow water, the leak could have been shut off in hours. HOURS! not days, weeks, months!

I live on the Texas Gulf coast. We know about oil, drilling for oil, oil refining, oil spills, oil spill clean-ups...It is a part of life. Instead of making this a big political thing, let us pray for leaders who will figure out how to deal with it.

And before we are cut off from drilling in the Gulf, you have to remember that others are waiting to take the oil. If we don't drill for it, China will. Venezuela will. And when they have an accident, who will clean up their mess? It isn't their back yard, they won't worry about it.

The oil is always leaking from the bottom of the ocean. It washes up in much smaller amounts all the time. In ancient times, the Pre-Columbian Indians here used it to waterproof their pottery. It is called 'asphaltum'.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Janie--I admit I don't know much about oil production, but can't we police / forbid drilling by anyone in the gulf or elsewhere, or are thos einternational waters and so anyone can have at it? We ned to stop exporting oil, that's step one. We do have to have oil, but nothing, NOTHING is being one to secure our economy, security, or environments. It all seems based on the political / personal fortunes of a few people for a few years, no one willign to sacrifice at the top levels when I bet you everything I have almost every Tom, Dick, and Jane would agre to make some sacrifice if it meant national stability on the above fronts.
If all else fails, I guess we can send all of our artists down to the beaches to create artwork, thus doing their part to clean up the spill. Who's with me on this?

janie said...

I don't know the answer to whether we can keep them out of the Gulf. I don't think we can, honestly. I know China is drilling for Cuba close to Florida at this time. That is what I am talking about.

I know that other nations patrol the Gulf with submarines. I was married to a Coast Guardsman once upon a time, and it was fairly common for us to watch them watching us.

The oil industry is not about a few people getting rich. It is about jobs for millions of people. It is about the security of our country. It is about everything we do, from packing the kids lunches in the little plastic lunch boxes, to running the home sewing machine, to harvesting our crops and defending our nations. Like it or not, it is what we have at this time. We can't just turn it off like a light switch, there is nothing to take it's place.

Those politicians have talked for years and years about getting off oil. First, we need to get off foreign oil. We have so much here, it is silly for us to pay somebody for it.

Think of this. We get some oil from Venezuela. But their oil is very inferior to ours, so much so that we were the only ones who could refine their oil. It is nasty stuff. Why should we buy that?

Drilling at home would help tremendously as far as our economy goes. And we need to develop an alternative power source, which would also build our economy. It will never get done if we don't start.

I weep for the animals, and for the people who are so affected by this catastrophe, but I know this is not the first bad thing to happen, and it won't be the last. And I know that extracting oil from the ground is done safely and routinely every minute of every day.

This spill will be used by a few to get rich, to build power, to gain a hold on us that we may never be free of. We need to be wary of that.

"Never let an emergency go to waste."

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Benjamin,
I came here to tell you thanks for your comment on my blog, and visit about monarchs. After reading this post, I read all the comments, agreeing with most of them. I also have CNN on, so I have been bawling, both because of my sadness about the oil damage, and because of what the wives of fishermen were saying about the anger and depression they were going through. I am a Christian, and get comfort from prayer.

When they first started showing the oil on the beaches, I wanted to go there with a shovel and help clean it up. It's very frustrating to know the oil is coming and can't be prevented, then when there, it doesn't seem to be cleaned up in a timely manner. I wanted some wildlife to be gathered up before the oil came to prevent exposure in the first place.

I can't remember if I knew whether you planted any green milkweed. Mine that I bought from the arboretum did not live. I see some holes in one of my swamp milkweed that could be from a caterpillar, but I didn't see any on it. I only saw one caterpillar today. I am so beside myself. I can't find any protector sleeves in town. I plan to order a couple from the waystation website. It may be too late for this bunch. My husband says it would be messing with the gene pool by protecting some caterpillars from being eaten. The plants I grow attract some of the predators, such as wasps. I don't think I can have a perfect ecological balance in my little corner lot. I'm feeling very motherly, and want to protect a few of them.

My tithonia, Mexican sunflowers haven't come up from their seeds I scattered around last fall. Maybe it's too cold here in the winter for them. I bought some seeds I need to get planted. I had lots of monarchs on them and the zinnias planted next to them last fall. I counted over 14 one day. I think some of them were spending a few days here while migrating. They fed on lots of my blooms, but there favorite seemed to be the tithonia.

I hope you get some monarchs feeding on your milkweed.

Anonymous said...

I had to force myself to come read the post and comments, it is hard enough to watch the news. It does seem so hopeless, pointless. Why aren't they working on alternative energy sources, fuel cells, something that is renewable and safe. I know they can do it and worry for my grandchildren and their grandchildren. When will they wake up? Why does it have to take such staggering losses for anyone to pay attention? This problem is not new with this catastrophe, it began in 1973/74 during the oil embargo. Hello! Wake up, government/scientists/inventors, everyone! Demand change!

janie said...

I have been thinking about this all day, and the more I thought about it, the madder I get.

I have a vacuum cleaner that could suck all the water out of an Olympic swimming pool- one of those wet/dry vac things.

Why don't they have a giant vacuum cleaner that can suck the damned oil out of the water? It is all stuck together, with the exception of the little bits that make the tarballs, it should be feasible.

They should let us figure these things out. I don't think they have any common sense.

Helen at summerhouse said...

I can't stand to see the photos. It's just too awful, too devastating, too damn painful. I feel powerless. And I worry. Because next they'll be drilling around the North Pole and those poor polar bears already haven't got an piece of ice to float on. All melting away. I feel your pain and anger too. With all the environmental knowledge and lobbying, and hopefully, did this still happen? Today I heard they are cleaning the animals and letting them go in Florida where the oil will land next. We can do much better than this can't we?

Ellada said...

Great day ? Not really.
We talk a lot in Greece about this disaster.
We are in 2010, and we are too stupid to understand the evil that we do to the environment, the future of our children.
It hurts my heart.

Linda said...

I saw the oil in the marshes and on the birds, and cried. I also cried for the families of the 11 people who died, and the economic loss to thousands who will lose their livlihood. I don't agree with the poster who said we have to drill. We do not. We have a choice to use oil, and can choose not to.

I have to disclose that I own 2 beachfront properties on the Florida panhandle and my daughter and son-in-law live there. The focus on Florida is not so much the beautiful beaches, although it is heartbreaking if you have ever spent time on the Gulf Coast National Seashore between Pensacola and Navarre Beach and imagine it being destroyed. It is that tourism is the prime economic source of the area, and it is being decimated.

Want to help? Take a vacation to the gulf and support the people there watching their lives be destroyed.

Sorry to rant, this touches close to home.

Amanda B. said...

How heartbreaking. Wow. This is all wrong in so many ways. :( Not that I am a genius or know anything about any of this- but I am tired of all the talk on the news of trying to point blame. Yes, I am sure there is someone to blame and they should be held responsible- but first, the problem needs fixed! I know there are some working on fixing it, but we need more people with problem solving skills and less finger pointing- at least until the problem is solved.

those pics are breaking my heart and I am wishing I knew the magical solution to fix it.

Autumn Belle said...

These pictures break my heart. This comes to mind a saying my literature teacher taught me at school:

"Science..... never solves a problem without creating 10 more" by George Bernard Shaw.

Many of us are suffering in silence, doing our small little part the best we can, flipping over a starfish a day, still hoping to save our planet. But is this enough to make the change? IMO, the pledges or veto from big powers like USA and Europe will make a big difference, e.g. at the Environmental Summits. World Environment Day 2010 has just slipped while the oil spill is still being cleared up.

Les said...

You have had several powerful post recently which have produced a good dialog. I have been frustrated as to how to respond to this whole situation. Do I stop driving, protest in front of the local BP - or are all the oil companies operating with stainded hands, and are we all driving that ways too?

I was compelled to visit a nearby wetland, one that was still intact and not fouled. It made me feel better, for a time.

Keep your poking stick sharp and don't hesitate to put it into any open wounds you see.

Steve said...


You might like the book Planetwalker by John Francis. After an oil spill in California in the 70s, he gave up riding in cars. Then, because people kept asking him (and arguing with him) about why he gave up riding in cars, he stopped talking! Took a seventeen year vow of silence! Now, did he stop the problems? Obviously not. But he certainly underwent a powerful personal transformation...

Benjamin Vogt said...

Sue--Messing with the gene pool? We bring in monarchs all the time so taht, maybe, a few will make it! You can tell your husband he is crazy! (I found 7 eggs tonight and was thrilled! I don't know how I missed the female since I watch the garden like a hawk, but this is actually the earliest I've had eggs the 3 years I've been here, but I do have the most milkweed I've ever had.)
Frances--I'm serious about not re-eleting officials who don't wake up and / or get those oil lobbyists out of their pockets. Stop "playing pool" with our future!
Janie--See you in the Gulf! I'll bring my Dyson!
Ellada--We don't care about our children. If we did we wouldn't feed them pesticide ridle fruit, genetically modifed corn, hormone enduced milk and beef.... ahhh!!!!!
Linda--I fully advocate NOT taking a vacation to the gulf. We need to SUFFER. Tourism needs to suffer, people need to lose jobs, the fishing industry must tank--otherwise nothing will change. We need the pain, because we aren't waking up without it!

Benjamin Vogt said...

AB--The magical solution is if all the oil ran out right now. It would be war and chaos and starvation and disease, and I don't want to live in that world, but.... I'm pretty fatalistic about it all. But hey, I'll continue to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts, because my kids sure won't.
Autumn Belle--The U.S. will never stand up at take the lead at these international environmental summits. They had a big chance at Copenhagen and laid a massive egg--esp with all those countires finally being there. They won't come back. U.S. is afraid, stagnate.
Les--I enjoying picking scabs off of myself, so I will keep putting my writerly stick into bloody gushing wounds on a regular basis. I'm so pissed off. Just wait until I start working on my second memoir--the s**t will hit the fan.
Steve--Thanks for the book suggestion to everyone, Les, me, you know, everyone.

Linda said...

I have to respectfully disagree with your response that people should not visit the Gulf and support the people living there. I can agree with your premise that without pain we won't change, but whose pain? Florida is a strict no-drilling state and tourism is how people make their livlihood. What would you have them do? And why should they suffer because a company like BP cut corners, our government can't get out of their own way to lead a cleanup and as a society we demand oil? I don't think there is any easy answer, but punishing the innocent does not seem like a good one.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Linda--The "innocent" (or complicit?) will always be at the frontline of bearing the greatest burden. The people must suffer so they can rise up and enact change through the government (if it still works), by venting their anger and frustration through a call to action for new fuels. Their anger will flush Washington of its curent lame politicians, lead to demonstrations, lead to something, but if the innocent don't suffer the innocent won't ever stop suffering. In other words, the people--we the people--must be in pain before we can have our democracy back again, because we've fallen asleep and just let it slip away to special interests and corporate lobbysists. That's how I see it. Better to suffer now while we still have oil than when we don't have oil and we all die from bullets and starvation.