Thursday, July 01, 2010

On something I probably won't be blogging about

Okay, so during my brief blogging break (hereinafter known as "The Interregnum"), I continued to stockpile posts and articles and items of interest, and I managed to amass a particularly hefty folder on the Gulf oil spill. And it seems like the kind of thing that could inspire an endless stream of blog posts, with new commentary and analysis coming out every day. But the more I sort through the growing volume of stuff I've collected, the less inclined I am to bother saying anything about it.

Because frankly, what is there to say? We're in the middle--not even in the middle, tragically, still at the very beginning--of the biggest environmental shitstorm to hit my general vicinity in my lifetime. And it's getting worse, not better. And we can sit here and debate until the cows come home whose fault it is, whose responsibility it is, who should be responsible for cleanup, who should be in charge of cleanup, and you know what? It's not going to change a damn thing. Of course some discussion needs to take place to see where the system broke down so we can try to prevent this kind of disaster in the future, but outside of that, there's more or less no point to it. Even if we squeezed every available cent out of BP and Transocean and Halliburton, it's not going to be enough to unfuck the Gulf, because the Gulf is unfuckable.

And we're not talking about "if we don't do something quickly, the Gulf will soon be unfuckable." It's unfuckable now. There are animals covered in oil now. There are protected beaches and delicate marshlands dotted with oil now. There's marine life that's swallowing oil now, and even if we got out this very day and loaded the Gulf with as much chemical dispersant as Nalco has ever produced, that marine life would be swallowing little droplets of oil mixed with highly toxic chemicals. The ones that don't die will be too toxic to fish and will, God willing, be too toxic to reproduce, because if they do manage to reproduce, God only knows what the resulting offspring will look like. And bankrupting BP in the interest of cleanup efforts isn't going to undo that.

My screensaver at work for the past year has been vacation photos from Port St. Joe, Florida. Dave, The Boy, and I spent a truly fantastic week there through the generosity of a friend with a beach house. It was gorgeous--pristine, unsullied, quiet, largely undeveloped, with woods in the backyard and a state park down the road. I would have taken ten times as many photos then if I'd known that we'd probably never get a chance to go back. And for the moment, St. Joseph Bay remains clean. But there's no guarantee, and an oil slick that's expected to make it out into the mid-Atlantic certainly has the potential to swing up into that tight corner of the Gulf. I read an article recently wherein biologists judged that the bay is untouched because the dolphins are still healthy. They called the dolphins "environmental sentinels of the bay." What they meant is that the dolphins are the canaries of the bay--they'll know the Deepwater Horizon slick has hit the bay when the dolphins start dying. Dolphin X03 isn't going to leap out of the water in a blue-green shimmer to announce to biologists that the bay is contaminated. She's going to roll up on the beach with ten of her closest dolphin buddies. And at that point, the damage done will be un-doable, if it ever could have been prevented in the first place.

I'm doing my best to come to terms with the fact that there are entire species currently living in the ecosystem that won't be there by the time The Boy's three-year-old niece is old enough to appreciate them. I'm coming to terms with the fact that the sites of so many of my happy childhood memories may never again be enjoyed by young vacationers. I'm coming to terms with the fact that someday, I'm going to be regaling younger generations with once-upon-a-times about not just the Gulf but oceans largely unvisited by anyone but fishing boats. I'm coming to terms with the idea of an environment that will be significantly and irreparably different by the time this entire mess is through. I'm not entirely to terms yet, though, and just writing about it all is making me tear up, so I'm going to stop.

So I'm not going to be posting much about the Gulf spill unless something earth-shattering comes up. What's the point? I won't be posting new information on the status of the spill and cleanup efforts, because the answer will always be "rapidly declining." I won't be posting pictures of oil-slicked birds, because there are going to be more, and it just makes me cry anyway. I won't be posting castigations and condemnations of BP, because the English language doesn't include harsh enough words to express my feelings about them. And I won't be posting pleas for awareness and attention, because everyone is already aware, most people are attentive, and it's not going to change anything anyway.

The Boy has a tragic, bitter, but unfortunately accurate view of the whole thing: Liquidating BP won't be enough to fund even a fraction of the cleanup efforts necessary to restore the Gulf, and the only punitive measure significant enough to account for the damage done would be to line up the board of directors and shoot them. Since we don't do that in this country, there's verging on no point. I'll boycott BP, I might even buy a snarky t-shirt--probably not--but I'm not going to try to wrap my mind around the ongoing disaster in the interest of producing a coherent blog post. People have been taking jabs at President Obama for his suggestion, shortly after the collapse of Deepwater Horizon, that the nation turn to prayer. I'm with him. It would be nice to say we should concentrate on more tangible action, but right now, appeals to the Almighty are pretty much all we have. So I suggest we get to it.

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