'It's better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period.'-Chinese Proverb
'Oh, the times they are a-changin''-Bob Dylan
This latest ecological disaster made possible by a shortsighted, greedy oil company and its subcontractors is as much a product of you and I as it is their fault. We have learned next to nothing about handling the black goo that powers our vehicles and equipment since the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.
The oil companies, like the auto manufacturers and the rail companies have worked diligently and, frequently, underhandedly to secure their positions at the front of the feed line powered by American consumers. They have done whatever it takes to prevent any strides away from American dependence on their inefficient and damaging enterprises. And our government is the whore that services the Cartel John for cheap. Big Daddy Oil has so many politicians in his pockets that any chance of curtailing his profligate approach to the environment is just about impossible.
I walk a lot more these days not just for my health, but because I can't really afford to fill my gas tank with our relatively cheap--by standards of countries who pay through the nose for petroleum products--gasoline and engine oil. If I were more concerned with what is happening and my place in it as a contributor, however small, I would choose to curtail behaviors that are guaranteeing a world with far fewer benefits for coming generations.
The reality that an oil spill is killing of endangered creatures like Sea Turtles is more than I can stomach at the moment. What about those poor platform workers? Well, those folks were paid for their folly and, hopefully, their families will find some financial remuneration for their loss. It is a sorry situation, but how many animals and, in turn, other people suffer for this avoidable disaster.
The fact is that we are the top-of-the-food-chain race that is working to devour Gaia. We need to be stewards of this planet rather than abusers. Unfortunately, only a disaster of some sort--a world wide famine, plague, etc.--will ever reconcile the balance sheets. We are headed that way fast and I am not necessarily a doomsayer, but being a realist when I tell you that the high times that a small percentage of the planet's population experienced are very much over.
Americans , for the most part, had it exceptionally well in the period after WW2 and before the turn of the century. Yes, there were problems, and yes there were poor and homeless, corrupt politicians, ignorance and . . . but all of that was merely passing diversion compared to what is just up the road.
We now have a world that wants what we had and will not take "no" for an answer. China and India, the two most populated countries on Earth, want to move forward and out of the days of famine and disease that colored the 20th Century. It is likely that the US will fall from its position as the ruling superpower and become a "partner" with China. The country that now owns more of our debt than any other creditor.
The financial collapses of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and possibly, Ireland, are too close to call. The powers that regulate the world banking business are in deep and dangerous waters trying to stay afloat.
The planet has experienced more horrible natural disasters in the first few months of this year than at any time I can recall in my 58 years. Humans are now more vulnerable to the folly of their fellows and the planet's response to its rape than they have ever been before. Breeding is out of hand. Arable land is decreasing. Pollution is destroying ecological systems.
Animals are changing sex and mutating from the estrogenic compounds unleashed by a poorly regulated chemical industry.
Big Pharma perpetrates fraud as a matter of doing business. Big Agriculture contaminates land and produces crops that have been genetically modified to withstand pesticides while fields are now overrun with superweeds that have mutated in response to nature's being so insanely out of balance.
Children in the US are born with horrible birth defects due to poisoned ground water. While the largest aquifer in the world is being drained at such a rate that scientists predict is will become dry in 50 years time, thus ending the boom years of plains grown crops and food animals in the Heartland.
The icecap that covers Greenland is melting at such a rapid rate we will see the rise of oceans worldwide in a matter of less than 50 years. (Some believe less than 25.) If that transpires, all coastal cities will be inundated with water and the populations of those cities will be displaced to the last of the remaining arable land that is sorely needed for food and animal crops.
Next, famine will ensue and fresh water will be so scarce that people will die for lack of it. Climates that exist now will have completely changed and places that were considered paradises will become little better than deserts or hell holes.
But all is not lost. The chances that the then dramatically reduced human race will survive is good. If the population base can return to something like it was before the 19th Century (approximately 250 million people) the planet will have the ability to return to its proper balance and humans may learn that they are part of the balance rather than lords over it.
Christians would probably say that what we are now seeing are valid indicators of the so-called, "End Times". I prefer to see these events as indicators that the human race is incredibly out of balance and Gaia, the spirit of Earth so to speak, must use its natural methods (an ice age, volcanic activity and subsequent earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, floods, ash plumes, etc.) to heal. Earth has experienced a cycle of dramatic shifts at a regular rate over the course of its history. Nothing is in stasis. We will not destroy the world, but ourselves, if we continue down the egocentric path most of us walk.
There really isn't a significant amount of difference between the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the financial disaster befalling Greece. Each are aberrations caused by the folly of man. Each will pass in significance with time and as newer, more difficult challenges arrive to replace their front page status. The real difference between the two is that, to the planet, the financial concerns of the human race have no lasting importance, while disrupting the natural ecological balance does.
If the human race expects to prosper whatsoever in the coming years ignoring the real issues to attend to the false ones will reap drastic pain and sorrow at the least. As the almost cliche saying goes, if you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem. To live in 21st century America is to be a part of a seemingly insoluble problem. This is the dilemma we all must face as we argue over trivial concerns like politics and finances.
As humans we have a responsibility to the other occupants of the planet. We seized limited control and now our seizure is back firing. As Americans we have responsibility for the impoverished peoples of most countries beyond those of our own. We exist well on the backs of billions who exist feebly. Just as the wealthiest 1% lives on the backs of other Americans.
The standards of success in out society are changing. Accruing fortunes does not mean you are morally and responsibly successful. It only means you have succeeded in mastering a game where others have refused to enter the tourney. When humans stop admiring individuals who have mastered game playing--in finances, war, business--they may come to the realization there is more at stake here than social standing, McMansions, and acquiring material. They may stop running the rat race of achievement and actually achieve something of lasting impact and value for everyone and not just themselves. And, if that were to happen, we might regain a spiritual connection with the planet and respect our relation to it as stewards and responsible co-inhabitants.
Until that happens, we must be ever vigilant to remember our priorities are not how much we can use and abuse in this moment, but to our survival as a species into the future and what the promise of future generations may become.
If you are interested in what set me off on this diatribe please read this article: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/05/groundhog-day-for-oil/