Friday, July 09, 2010

Nightmare in Paradise

Painting "Blood on the Water" done by Rod Obe - about 25 years ago. It is interesting to me that the rust color floating on our water looks like blood.

Disasters come in many forms - I have read about oil "spills," and visited California beaches and wondered at the oily film on the water as far back as 25 years ago. I have been through three hurricanes, of various intensity, even one that claimed about five to six years of our area's life in cleanup and restoration and over 100 residents' lives. I have been through snow storms that buried houses across the street from me, and read of tsunamis and earthquakes and seen pictures of the devastation from those types of disasters.

I have never seen anything like this.

Fisherman speak into the reporter's microphones, holding up blackened powdery oysters saying that the oysters are gone and it will take at least three years to grow more, that is IF the water were clean. Our water may never be clean or friendly to life again as no one knows how long the puncture in our earth's crust that is allowing this science fiction sized deluge to pour forth will continue. Some estimate if the deluge is stopped today, perhaps ten years for clean up, but there is secrecy and lies and speculation. BP has effectively killed off a huge fishing and tourist industry and before this is over, if not stopped soon, most, if not all, of the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. The potential exists that it could eventually affect the Caribbean and the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.

I have pictures on my cell phone from a trip grandson and I made to a favorite fishing pier. It is roped off, equipment marring the coast line - metal "booms" - and a guard to make sure no one gets too close to the whole scenario which is clouded with secrecy and $40,000 fines and Class A Felony charges if one passes a certain demarcation too close to "clean up" efforts. Yet everything within sight is still, no one is there but the guard. We can swim in, wade through, and cleanup the mess when it hits our backyards though.

The President meets in secret (to my knowledge, no public or press allowed) with the military and the County Commissioners. People work in the "clean up" without proper protective gear, with few, if any, long term studies on the effects of exposure to the oil, the fumes, and the chemicals that have been released into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is like something out of an Orwellian scene to see the long lines of people whose incomes have gone to nothing from the spill standing in lines and picketing, hopeful that BP will hire them to clean up BP's mess for a whopping $10.00 and hour! Yes, I know, in our destroyed economy that is at least enough to feed one's family.

No one has the answers of what will happen, or speaks of it anyway, as this stuff moves into our wetlands, our waterways and seeps underground through the porous limestone soil base in this area into our drinking water and into water we use to irrigate and cook and bathe. Maybe they have the answers, but that is another secret no one wants to talk or think about.

I watched a video made by a resident of the area, and BP's idea of beach clean up in this case is clearly shown - in early morning hours, a bulldozer moves down the beach, pushing sand over the top of the oil and I wonder how many times can this be done before our beaches become a toxic waste dump - is the answer already obvious? They already are toxic waste dumps. The oil is obviously toxic and we don't have clear information exactly what chemicals are coming ashore with the oil. We know large measures of methane and benzene are included. One of the videos shows the surf boiling like water in a pot on the stove.

Where were the inspectors, where was any ounce of integrity with the company? Did anyone ask any questions as one of the, if not the largest deep water well in the world, if not this hemisphere cracked into the earth's core? When an exception to having a tight plan in the case of a "spill" was granted when the permit was issued? An alarm was not sounded when BP's top executive reportedly sold off his shares about a week before the explosion. Or Goldman Sachs reportedly divested its holdings in the company before the explosion.

It is reported that now there are 17,000 wells in the Gulf of Mexico, off the shores, that have been capped off since the 1940's. These wells have the potential of blowing at any time as they are not inspected to make sure the caps are holding according to one investigative report. I posted a map of the amount of wells in the Gulf, the yellow dots marking the wells are almost wall to wall for miles.

A politician, a senator from Louisiana, states on TV that she has accepted thousands of dollars from BP for her campaigns up to two weeks before the oil spill. And sees nothing wrong with that while being involved in overriding the President's ban on offshore drilling. A law is passed by our politicians that corporations will not be limited in amounts they can give to politicians and their campaigns. Have we lost our country to greed, to money mongers? I can't remember for sure, but the amounts may have amounted to hundreds of thousands the politician had accepted.

In the U.S., we have become the proverbial frog in the pot - never questioning, never researching, never caring as long as we are comfortable, what the long term consequences are of our blind obedience to our comfort and big money, in this case oil corporations which have become a world economy, thus controlling our lives. We deride, at the worst, or ignore scientific findings of what is happening to the planet we call home. ("We" being the majority of the population.)

My heart is sick - I am one person, a half healthy retired grandma, I am not an organizer, not even sturdy enough to pick up a sign and go stand in protest in the 100 degree heat for a day, I long to throw myself in front of the bulldozers, but "H" tells me I could cost our family the loss of our home and my presence because of the penalties and not make a difference anyway.

BUT, I have become passionate where I can - I recycle, I compost, I change to energy efficient light bulbs, gather my errands into one day to minimize use of fossil fuel, I am writing people who send catalogs and junk mail, and tell them to stop. I do what I can in my tiny sphere of influence. And I shout out what I see, what I think. I show my grandson the horrors of what has happened - a sea holocaust- and tell him, "remember!" Maybe he will be the scientist who makes a difference, an honest politician, a geologist, an environmentalist. I post on Facebook the obvious truths of what is happening to our planet and face ridicule and anger from people I thought were my friends. I don't care, alarm after alarm has been sounded and we (including myself) go on as if the air we breathe, the water we drink, the planet we live on will go on the same forever. It won't.

Yes, I am heartbroken. Scared. And angry. Not just because the most beautiful landscape our area has to offer as been irrevocably ruined, but because we (our society's way of life, our corporations, and many of our politicans) are killing our planet, our creatures, and ultimately ourselves. Thanks for listening! It is my heart for people to realize that this disaster is not just here in the South, but the same bomb is ticking, is lurking in the waters all around the world, with the potential for the same type of disaster to cover the earth with blood covered water. Water is life - our body is 70% water!


tweetey30 said...

This is so sad.. I heard on the news today that they might have it capped off by tonight but I dont believe them after reading this post.. But you just never know.. Hope you are gettign out as much as possible where you can.

tshsmom said...

It it's any consolation, I just cried my way through your post. You're not alone. I just wish everyone would "get it". :(

Gardenia said...

It is consolation! Very much so.

Milla said...

I've come to read this post for the 3rd time. Twice today.
It is a very beautiful post, especially the last paragraph -very poetic.

Wandering Coyote said...

Thanks for this post, Gardenia. I do read your FB posts, too. I really appreciate getting the point of view of someone so directly in the path of this disaster. We have pretty decent coverage of the debacle up here, but nothing much on a personal level.

The whole thing makes me physically ill as well. I have seen pictures of oil-soaked waterfowl and am just furious about all the damage this is doing...and will do for decades. It's sickening. But all we can do as individuals is our best, and sometimes it seems like not enough. I recycle, I take transit, I walk, I use high efficiency light bulbs, and I generally try to live as lightly from the earth as I can, and yet it seems like so little when so much needs to change...

punxxi said...

This is the saddest picture. There have always been natural oil spills , but not this major of course. When I was a kid, we used to go to the beach and our feet would be black and sticky from the "tar". That was in California, but the beaches are clean now. So I feel for you all on the gulf coast, I can't imagine what it has done to the tourist industry, especailly since we are in such a horrindus economic downturn.