Friday, April 20, 2012

Second Anniversary, Attempted Gaiacide

Today marks the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, brought to you by British Petroleum, in collaboration with Halliburton and Transocean, LTD. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest environmental disaster to occur in the precincts of a developed nation (although the "developed" nature of the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. can be debated- apologies to my friends in Lafayette, LA). The disaster occurred in a context of corporate malfeasance, involving depraved indifference to human life, cutting corners in construction, using insufficiently tested (possibly untested) material, and executive sociopathy. In the wake of the seafloor oil gusher's creation, BP attempted to hide the extent of the spill by using dispersants, the extreme toxicity of which had been hidden under the pretense of "trade secrets". The full extent of the disaster is unknown, and is likely to remain so, as information critical of the fossil fuels industry is typically suppressed. Two years after the toxic mix of petroleum and Corexit was added to the Gulf, the marine life is exhibiting horrific deformities. It's a common right-wing trope that environmentalism is about putting "nature" over the needs of humans, but the mouth-breathers ignore the inconvenient fact that humans are part of nature... we don't exist in some separate, rarefied sphere. A knucklehead may ask, "So what? Who cares about a bunch of lousy shrimp?" The retort is, unfortunately, too complicated to fit into a soundbite- humans are long-lived apex predators (in fact, we eat a lot of oceanic apex predators), toxins have great opportunities to accumulate in our bodies. Environmentalism concerns human health and quality of life. Nature, red in tooth and claw, cannot be destroyed- there are organisms which are a lot hardier than we overly smart yet overly stupid apes, organisms which will survive us. We won't destroy the planet, we'll just destroy our ability to inhabit it, and there are no alternatives. Problems with the supply of, and ill affects of the use of, fossil fuels have been known for decades. Fossil fuels should be thought of as "startup capital"- they allowed us to industrialize quickly, and to achieve unprecedented productivity, but the use of fossil fuels should have been a stepping stone to the development of renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, we are, to paraphrase Gene Wolfe "waiting for the money to run out." The problem with renewable energy is that it's hard to monopolize wind and sun, and the plutocrats would rather kill the planet than to give up an iota of profit.

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

There was a time when environmentalists were listened to. This brought the Bald Eagle back.

Sadly, those days are gone. We have corporatist Dems and Republicans, and the only difference is the former make pleasant noises while they pursue the same agenda as the latter.