Thursday, May 27, 2010

The spill

I can't bear it. I can't bear to watch television images of what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico, my backyard, and on the Gulf Coast. I can hardly bear to read of it, only if I skip over the most excruciating parts, the parts about helpless animals caught in this man-made catastrophe. Anyone who cares about animals and the environment, for that matter anyone who cares about his/her fellow humans who are suffering because of this biggest environmental disaster in the history of our country, is being daily bombarded with hard punches to the heart as this unspeakable befouling of the earth continues.

How did we ever let this happen? Why do we allow drilling for oil a mile down in the ocean when we have no effective plan for dealing with potential explosions and oil spills? Are we truly so addicted to oil that we have lost all perspective on what is important? Even a bird knows that its nest mustn't be fouled. Are we not as smart as birds?

The president has reversed himself and announced a moratorium on deep water drilling for the next six months while his commission studies the problem. This president is nothing if not deliberate and he doesn't like to act hastily, but it seems very evident to me that a six month moratorium is not enough. There needs to be a complete and total ban on such drilling until such time that we can be absolutely assured that these oil companies know what they are doing and that they have a feasible, workable plan for handling events like the one we are witnessing now. Furthermore, the laws should be changed to ensure that oil companies will have to pay for every penny of damage that they cause. Even before they begin to drill, they should have to pay a substantial bond that would be utilized to help mitigate any damage that ensues. These companies are the richest corporations in the world. They make money hand over fist every day the sun rises because of our addiction and our obstinate refusal to address the problem - so don't tell me they can't afford it. They can afford it.

And, yes, what about that addiction? Now, of all times, the government should be doing everything it can to enhance and expand the use of alternative sources of energy and to find and develop new types of energy. We need a crash program to ensure that this happens. It won't be easy to get anything through a congress that is bought and sold by the oil industry, but if the administration is tough enough, persistent enough, and especially if it gets the public on its side, now might just be the time to do it. Now, while the earth is bleeding oil into our gulf waters.

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