Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry

The ongoing spectacle in Washington DC as the congress questions oil company officials  is just amazing. It could be comic. But only Shakespeare could really do it justice. And of course we'd have to forget about the photographs of pelicans covered with oil, unable to save themselves, waiting to die.
Mr. Tony Hayward, he of the "I'd like MY life back" sentiment, says he wasn't "in on" a lot of the decisions about the Deepwater horizon oil drilling platform and its problems.  "Out of the loop." And this is the CEO of the company. He doesn't know what's going on, doesn't know about safety features not implemented, apparently doesn't know that walruses don't live in  the Gulf of Mexico.

Ed Markey, congressman from Massachusetts, showed that five different oil company disaster plans for the gulf were almost totally identical, and all had walruses as a species which would be threatened by a potential spill in the Gulf. The really sad fact here is that no one in the government who was supposed to be regulating these activities noticed this interesting fact. Or wanted to. Oil companies have a lot of money and they are more than willing to share it with government officials and elected representatives who are willing  to be their dupes.

They aren't so willing to share the money with the people whose lives they have ruined. Finally President Obama got off his high horse and did some real arm-twisting and got BP to put up a respectable starting amount of money for compensation to the people whose livelihoods are crippled by the disaster. Too bad pelicans don't know how to use money.

The perfidious influence of oil money on Congress was highlighted in bold color today with the "apology" of  Repubican representative Joe Barton of Texas, said to be the highest recipient of oil money for his political campaigning, to Tony Hayward. Mr. Barton was "ashamed" of the way BP was being "shaken down" by the White House. Imagine this asshat being willing to prostitute himself so openly. Mind-boggling. Of course, even his Repube colleagues saw that he'd made a fool of himself and he had to come out later in the day and try to say that what he'd said wasn't really what he'd said.
I wish I hadn't been working today so I could watch it live. This stuff is right up there with the Army-McCarthy hearings in the '50s. What drama. What a bizarre spectacle.

And how disgusting.

I have to ask again, folks—what are you willing to give up so we don't have to use so much oil, so we don't have to contemplate drilling in places we shouldn't be drilling, to get it?

Those pelicans are dying for our sins.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I want my life back!

Back on May 30, Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, topped Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake" comment.
And you thought it couldn't be done.

In an interview he acknowledged people's lives were upset, and, trying to build a little solidarity with the working class, he said "I'd like MY life back."
See it here:

I suppose the eleven guys who died on the platform, and their families, would like their lives back. I suppose all the fishermen and shrimpers and people who run tourist industry businesses would like their lives back. I suppose all the birds and fish and turtles who are dying from the oil would like their lives back.

It's really hard to look at the pictures. The poor creatures, who have no idea what is going on, they just know their world has turned against them. Humans at least have the cold comfort of knowing what is happening, even if the "why" of it escapes them.

30 years since the Ixtoc oil well disaster and there has been no, that is NO, advancement in spill prevention, stoppage and cleanup. And this disgrace must also be borne by our feckless congressmen, who pony up to the oil companies' feeding trough over and over again to get the money they need to stay in office. To do what? Pass legislation which is good for the country? No, they want to be able to keep sticking their faces into that trough of money.

And it's us too. It's time to think folks. What are you willing to give up? For all the talk of clean energy, there is one big thing which can save millions in oil expenditures and help the environment more than anything else. It's called conservation.

Where can you and I conserve, what are you willing to give up?
How far will you go?

It's not just turning down the thermostat and turning off lights, tho that helps.
But are you willing to plan so you don't have to use the car anymore than necessary?
Think you're going to be able to make your teenager walk more?

Are you going to be willing to move closer to where you work so you don't have to drive so much?

Are you ready to turn your computer off whenever you are not actually on it? Are you ready to use it less?  Remember pencils and paper?

Apple and Nokia and Dell and  Microsoft and other tech companies have all kinds of things you "just really need."
Two months ago you never heard of an iPad. Do you lust for one now? I don't, but I sure would like an iPhone.
Going to give up your Wii or Playstation? And rediscover games people played when there weren't so many electronics?
How analog are you willing to be? 

I love having a high-speed internet connection here, but where is the energy for that coming from? How many birds have died in oil spills, how many mountain tops have been razed in Appalachia for the coal to produce that energy?

To save on oil would you be willing to give up plastic wrap? Plastic bottles? Plastic food storage containers? All those plastic car parts that used to be steel? Polyester? (Well, maybe that one won't be so hard.)

Going to buy local? Local foods, local products (I believe there may still be some around, some items not made in China.) Gonna pay more at a local business instead of going to Walmart because it's cheaper?

Are you going to promote birth control in an effort to slow the population explosion? Six billion and counting folks. How many people can the earth really support?

I could go on, but it's late and I'd never finish this list anyway. We have too much stuff to think about.

Sleep tight, my two loyal readers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Gulf's Good Friday

Sometimes I defer to a more accomplished writer than myself. The following is not a curmudgeonly rant—Rev. Liza  Neal, of the Village Congregational Church in Cummington, is too spiritually advanced for that (unlike me). I hope others find this message thoughtful and thought-provoking.

"I sit writing this with soft white sand beneath my feet. Over the baby blue purring waves a faint pink softens the horizon while the sun rises behind me. The moon hangs just past full still bright before me. The gulls are strangely silent. Pure white birds with long necks peck in the sand and the world of “civilization” is asleep. There are remnants though, plastic shovels and floaties lying next to sand castles. And then of course there are the tons and tons of oil, unimaginable amounts, pouring in this direction, our deadly offering to this idyllic scene.

Preparing for my trip to Siesta Key for a nephew’s wedding, I packed my suitcase. The fancy dress just bought, suntan lotion which has done me little good, and of course, my swim suit. I worried that I might not be able to swim when I arrived. Sitting here at dawn, I am overwhelmed by the calm self-absorption with which I go about my days. Sure I watch the news and am properly horrified, but I also go about my business, driving out to work and packing my swim suit. How is it that we can go calmly on destroying life around us?

My partner and I recently decided to become a one-car household. She bikes to work or takes the bus. I carpool with a friend who lives on the same street. We are managing much more easily than I thought we would. A friend said, “I’m so impressed with what you are doing!” But yesterday swimming out in the ocean, I picked up a sand dollar. Instead of being bone dry, it was brown like wet sand and its underside was slightly rough like the bristles of a miniature brush. It was the first living sand dollar that I have ever seen. And the oil is coming for it. How is imposing vague inconvenience and extra planning impressive?

I am not trying to punish myself here, or you for that matter as you read this. I am however trying to be honest with myself. I want to consider the life of others before I consider my own convenience. I want to consider the life of the earth, and recognize its connection to the life of everything around me, and my own life. When I hear the voice of God in the rise and fall of the waves, I want to respond not only with my heart but also with the way that I live my life. In the Bible, God worries and weeps over the destruction of the earth.

This is the Good Friday of the Gulf, and we have nailed the earth upon the cross. We stand now at the crucifixion, praying that the resurrection is more than just a myth. Jesus told his disciples that in their hands was the power to loose forgiveness and judgment, destruction and creation. We cannot hide in the upper room closing our ears to the march of disaster outside. We cannot stand in the garden weeping. We must change, not tomorrow but rather today. It is time to ask ourselves what we can to do, and to make hard choices. It is time not only to inconvenience ourselves, but to sacrifice what we have for something better, to work for the resurrection of the earth.

Peace and Blessings,
Rev. Liza M. Neal