Do you love science, ecological disasters, and rubbernecking at car crashes? Well do I have a special treat for you. BP had been refusing to release video footage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill/leak/-ocalypse, making it nearly impossible for scientists to evaluate the extent of the ongoing damage. So Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said, “This is a whole heap of bullshit,”* and demanded a live video feed of the gushing oil be made available online to everyone, immediately.
Less than four hours later, BP responded, and promised to make the webcam available within 24 hours. The result is now live on house.gov and Ustream.
The spill cam is for independent scientists and the general public to hold BP accountable. We already know that BP undercounted the rate of oil flow by 20 times from their original estimate, thanks to the limited video footage that they reluctantly released. With the current estimate at 4 million gallons each day, that’s an Exxon-Valdez-size spill every three days still pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.
Maybe it’s just my corner of the world, but everyone I know is having the week from hell: overworked, overstressed, or cleaning up after coworkers who keep dropping off the face of the earth. “But how ‘bout that weather, Bob?” is only a small consolation; I’m stuck indoors after the sun burned my face off at Beats and Brunch on Saturday. (CAUTIONARY TALE: wear sunscreen. You will want to sit out there for hours. Trust your Vegansaurus on this one; it’s the best outdoor brunch in San Francisco history, but leatherface is too high a price to pay.)
But white whines aside (poor me, my weekend brunch was too leisurely), the Gulf oil spill is shaping up to be the biggest oil disaster since the Exxon Valdez, inducting this week into the Worst Week Ever Hall of Fame. If you have money or time, listen to Laura and help out IBRRC. And next time IBRRC has an oil spill response training, listen to me and go sign up.
All because this insane world is obsessed with oil. You’d think that during an epic disaster, everyone would be clamoring for clean energy, and the “drill baby drill” crowd would STFU for maybe a second. When Arizona passed their anti-brown-skinned immigrants law, people were (rightly) pissed off. They marched in the streets and launched crippling boycotts, and there is no doubt in my mind that the racists will find themselves on the wrong end of an open can of frothy backlash.
So where’s the anger over the wholesale destruction of the Gulf of Mexico? Where are the protests over the deaths of an uncountable number of birds and marine life, the economic ruin of the Gulf, or hell, even the eleven people who died on the platform? All we’re getting is “shit happens, let’s clean this one up, and go back to pretending like everything is fine and dandy” from the President all the way on down.
I’m glad there’s been a swift response to the spill, but can you spot what’s missing from the 10 Things You Can Do to Help the Gulf Coast Clean the Oil Spill list? Anything about ending the world’s oil addiction. Anything about passing the climate bill that is now completely stalled and watered down into oblivion. Anything about ending offshore drilling.
And don’t tell me that vague form letters urging nothing in particular from the Sierra Club’s website counts as anything. Compare the response to Arizona. Any major cities boycotting BP? Any marches against offshore drilling? Any new campaigns to boost public transit, or bikes, or wind, or anything running alongside the disaster and to connect people’s daily habits with the spill? No, just more clicktivism and form letters.
I know politics is boring and unseemly, but it’s like everyone really wants to believe this oil disaster is some kind of an isolated incident, or bad luck. ”We’ve had problems with car design, but you don’t stop driving. The Challenger accident was heart-breaking but we went back to space,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the architects of the stalled climate bill, about offshore drilling. Even Obama is calling it “premature" to consider reversing his plans for oil exploration.
All the finger-pointing at BP is irrelevant. Yes, it’s convenient to have a single villain, and yes, BP really did fuck up. But a spill of this size was inevitable, and it’s going to keep happening over and over again like Groundhog Dog until people stop whining about gas prices and actually give a shit about breaking the economy’s addiction to oil. Our politicians may be too timid and pathetic to make that point, but surely they can be jolted into paying attention?
Fuck, I don’t know. Anyway, don’t let this rant turn you off to doing the 10 things on that list, because that isn’t the point. Disasters of this size require immediate response and prevention. Unfortunately, other than a few mostly-ignored eco-blogs, you won’t read a single word about prevention. Because no one wants to admit that every person alive is responsible for that spill, even you and me, and the only way off this ferris wheel is to get rid of oil, starting now.
Or, starting after watching videos of adorable sneezing animals, because we all need a reason to live, and make sure to skip the bear. Something’s just not right about that one.
Devastating oil spill SUCKS BALLS: How we can help! »
This is one of those disasters that’s of such large impact that it’s almost impossible to wrap your mind around it. Also, it’s one of those things that if you stop to think about that you’ll just start crying and never stop. Kinda like the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow is still a working actor. OH LAURA SO PETTY. Anyway, with this kind of thing, it’s impossible to not feel helpless but there is something we can do.