Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vileness from the Right and Left over the oil spill

© 2010 Joshua Stark

I won't belabor this point, because the spill is getting enough coverage from folks who can write far better than I.  However, I do want to help provide a context, and do what I can to keep this from becoming merely a political football.
In that vein, then, I provide the following:  First, there is no socialist/communist conspiracy to create an oil catastrophe in order to end petroleum as we know it, or to try to usher in a socialist regime.  All socialist regimes have loved oil, from the good ol' USSR, to today's Venezuela.  Second, this disaster has not created any kind of political "opportunity".

What happened in the Gulf of Mexico, and continues to happen, is quite simply a horrible, horrible catastrophe.  Eleven souls were lost on that platform, and the ensuing damage will destroy countless human lives and livelihoods, untold numbers of sea life and habitats, and will change the way we know the region.  We will lose billions of dollars and work-hours, just to get as close to square one as we can.

Yes, we can learn from this horrible event.  Yes, we can and should use this experience to grow as people.  But, to use this catastrophe to fan the flames of dissent among us, or to claim that it has created a political opportunity, shows a callous disregard for human and wild life, and, dare I say it, is anti-environmental.

In particular, I am upset at the editors of Grist magazine for letting this piece, titled, "Wake up, Obama. The Gulf Spill is Our Big Chance" not only get published, but get such a title.  Environmentalists used to be known as being in favor of living things.  The realpolitik expressed in this title and the piece, itself, however, continues to destroy the general public's perception of our community.

The Gulf Spill offers no "chance", no opportunity.  It is a sad disaster that we may learn from, yes, but so long as "environmentalists" claim some political gain from disasters, especially in light of the deaths of workers, our community will relegate itself to the fringes of society and politics.


Phillip said...

Thanks, Josh!

I haven't been paying extremely close attention to the situation in the Gulf, largely because I understand the basics well enough to call it a disaster and hope it comes out as well as can be. All the crap in the papers and magazines at this point is so much finger-pointing, grandstanding, and... to be blunt... mierda.

There's a tendency to paint everything in black-and-white or us-and-them terms, and it's taken away from any productive response or reflection. I'm glad to see that some folks, such as yourself, can still see past all that and get back to the heart of the matter.

Josh said...

Mierda is right, although strong. But, strong is sometimes the apt description, no?

The hearts of matters are where we should always be when we consider what/how/when our democratic republican institutions should be applied. Pretending that the issues offer opportunities, (when in reality the issues drive our acts) lessens our perception of the real world, and makes the whole process sound contrived, petty, and opportunistic.

Right now, I'm praying for the folks and places down in the Gulf, and I'm also seriously reconsidering my own place vis a vis oil.

Ingrid said...

Hi, Josh -- I came over from Tovar's blog to send a quick thank you for your thoughtful comments in that ongoing discussion. But I stayed -- because I saw your post about the spill.

I come at this issue as a self-proclaimed progressive, environmentally-conscious person (I realize those labels can be subjective) -- and also a wildlife worker. And I couldn't agree more with your criticism of those headlines and stories. I've had the same visceral reaction to the words "chance" and "opportunity." They speak of a detachment and self-serving agenda that's difficult to fathom.

As you say, sure, we can learn from this wretched event, its catastrophic effects and -- in my personal view -- the misguided policies that allowed this happen. But to use a word like "opportunity" when so much is at stake for both humans and non-humans . . . and the Gulf, the ocean at large . . . is simply callous. It's also counter productive. I relate to the imperative and emotion underlying the sentiments. But I side with you in calling out the utilitarian nature of these comments.

I read today that the other side is suggesting the spill is nothing more than a natural occurrence. That too boggles the mind.

Words are, indeed, powerful and manipulative tools. It seems fitting that this piece would appear in a blog called "Ethics and Environment." Indeed. Thoughtful, and thank you.

Bud Stark said...

Great post, Josh.
Coming on the heels of Obama's espousing of more drilling offshore, which I did not and do not necessarily oppose, this catastrophe leaves me sad and confused. I too have to reconsider my own thoughts on drilling.

Josh said...

Ingrid, thanks for stopping by, and for your great perspective and thoughts. I just hopped over to your blog, too, though I've yet to comment on stuff. I hope you come back and comment frequently!

Bud (Dad), I understand your feelings. We have come mighty close to buying a hybrid as a first step to remove ourselves from so much oil, but at the same time, I recognize and appreciate all you've done, and what oil did to get me (and others) through school, fed, etc.

Tovar Cerulli said...

A good post, Josh. And good comments all around.

What a nightmare in the Gulf.

In the current political climate, some folks seem eager to spin everything in the most inflammatory, divisive way possible. The thoughts here are a much-needed antidote.

I'm glad to be catching up on my blog reading, finally.