Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On BP's Oil Atrocity

Image from

Like many others, I've been heartsick about the BP oil spill leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It's been worse since I saw these images of birds stuck in the oil. Seeing it, and subsequent thoughts of those images, bring me to tears. How long will innocent creatures - human or otherwise - continue to pay for the sins of big business?

This video shows the immensity of the problem:

(Click to see embedded video)

I have often felt hopeless as an environmentalist, but never before like this. If I can be excused for making the analogy, I feel like this is our environmental 9-11 and nothing will ever be the same for us after this.

This video (via MO Rage) shows how ocean currents will probably take the oil into the Atlantic Ocean:

(Click to see embedded video)

I keep coming back to one simple question: What can I do?!

I do not own a car or any other gasoline-powered vehicle. I've been getting places on my feet or by bus, and occasionally car pooling with others for many years now. I also try to reduce my use of plastic products, which are made of petroleum. Beth, from anti-plastic blog Fake Plastic Fish, recently said "Unless we grow and prepare all our foods from scratch, it’s pretty hard to get away from petroleum products." So I can only go so far in not using plastic.

So what can I possibly do? Even without my support, the oil companies still thrive. How many people would have to choose to change their lifestyles before BP took us seriously? Thousands? Millions? I have no hope for that happening. I'm scared to imagine just how many of our natural resources will we have to squander before there is a groundswell of change (and by then it might be too late for the human species).

What can I do?

I've written to my representatives over and over. It's gotten to where emailing them is just about a DAILY thing. But I know that large companies like BP are more likely to get their way and screw over regular folk, because money runs our government more than anything and, boy oh boy, is oil worth MONEY. My childhood pastor used to always say "Follow the money trail," which I thought was a weird thing for a pastor to say, but it's good advice in politics, I find. I feel like we're following the money trail to hell on Earth, since our government has given business a free hand to continually screw people over.

Where are the checks and balances? Where is the oversight? And why are we STILL using coal-fired power plants, petroleum and other dirty fuels when it would take SO LITTLE of our land (see colored squares below) to fully provide the ENTIRE WORLD with solar power:

Image from

What can I do?

I try to educate others on environmental issues, but either people 1) are already in that mindset and don't really need to hear it from me, 2) they disagree and won't listen no matter what I say, or 3) they agree theoretically but not enough to change their lifestyles. So I feel it is futile, though important to talk about anyway. Because just maybe someone's heart will be touched enough to make a change in their life.

But what can I do that will have any real affect? I have no idea, and I am heartsick.

Of The Empire by Mary Oliver

We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will also say that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

Related posts:
Pikas on Pike's Peak
Adapt or Die
The Problem with the Green Movement

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The Neilitist said...

If you substitute "fundamentalist" with "environmentalist" in your post it reads like a medieval flagellant's diary

May said...

Hardly. I take joy in my life and want to help an awful situation because I care about those who are being affected. That's nothing to do with religious self-punishment.

Denita said...

What do you do? Everything you do now..and more, as you become more educated. Keep passing on the education, new people are exposed to you all the time, you never know who is listening.

Matthew B said...

Neil, you either don't know the meaning of the word "fundamentalist" or you don't know what a medieval flagellant was/did. Perhaps when you have time you could explain your thoughts more clearly, as what you said makes no sense and has no bearing on the post itself. In fact, if she replaced "environmentalist" with "fundamentalist," you might say it reads like the OPPOSITE of a medieval flagellant's diary. May writes that she wishes to educate people about actual, TRUE dangers from money-minded corporations and natural-resource-destroying/depleting actions they take in pursuit of that money, of which the public is generally ignorant and would rather ignore. She also places blame where blame is due (not only the corporations, but the consumers and all in the chain between), and wishes to do REAL, WORTHWHILE things to change the situation. Despite the fact that it's often frustrating, she wishes to continue because occasionally someone will listen and maybe make some meaningful change in their life, something tangible and MEASURABLY BENEFICIAL. Not only that, but the changes many (if not most) environmentalists push for are or were considered CRAZY by their contemporaries, only to later be praised by the scientific community, who just happened to finally test environmentalist theories and find them completely sound (see: intensive pasturing vs. factory farming, biochar, 'whole foods' vs. processed foods, overfishing the oceans, etc. etc. etc.).

A medieval flagellant, on the other hand, is punishing him/herself for a lack perceived in them by (they believe) GOD, and because they think GOD will make things worse if they don't go ahead and do this. They would beat themselves until they bled; needless to say, such actions were worthless and initiated very little change. A religious flagellant blames HIM/HERSELF for his/her failings, yet praises GOD for whatever good comes into the world. In medieval times, no one around them would dare disbelieve in their piety, or in GOD's will, and so would openly support them, despite the fact that they wouldn't flagellate themselves and later just thought the flagellants were CRAZY. Most importantly, despite the fact that self-flagellation solves NOTHING, and makes no one's lives better in the long or short run, they would continue to take actions that harmed themselves, in order to "please" God, who (according the Catholic Church much later, after the whole "flagellate yourself for Christ!" trend faded) were acting heretically.

Keep up the good work, May!

May said...

Thanks`Denita & Matt.

Jules Bowen said...

Neil's inner child needs a spanking.

May, you can help by doing what you always do--being a wonderful light for the world. This disaster had to happen to teach those who are slow to learn that we can't keep doing things the way we always have. That doesn't take the sting out of it but it's true. The crooked industries are being exposed for what they are. Patience and prayers do more than one might think. :)

Jules Bowen said...

The cephalopods are AWESOME by the way. I am sooo close to getting the green guy by the pinball machine! :)

May said...

Thanks Jules :) Let me know if you decide you want that guy, and I'll put a "sold" sign on 'im.