*The following journal entry may contain excessive and gratuitous use of the F-bomb, and may be offensive to democrats, conservatives, libertarians, conservative libertarians, lobbyists, everyone residing in southwest Florida, Neocons, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Neoliberals, any other political group with the word "Neo" in front of it and anyone who listens to AM radio*
"The first sort by their own suggestions fell, Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived. By the other first: man therefore shall find grace, The other none."
-John Milton, "Paradise Lost."
"It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us."
-Charles Darwin, "The Origin of Species."
"Oh beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain.
For strip-mined mountains majesty, above the asphalt plane.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee.
And hides the pines with billboard sighs, from sea to oily sea."
If you're reading this, you have internet access, and you're keenly aware which news item has eclipsed Arizona's draconian Immigration mandate, the upcoming midterm elections and Lindsay Lohan breaking her bail agreement by showing up at the 2010 MTV... something or other awards. Namely, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The incident that's already claimed 11 lives began on April 20th of this year, and since that day, anywhere between 500,000 and 4,000,000 gallons of oil have spilled into the gulf, every day.
Ever since the start of the spill, blame and finger-pointing has been the norm, as carried by the ceaseless cable news outlets. No one can seem to agree on who's responsible, whether it's BP, or the subcontractors they hired to do the drilling, or the mechanical components themselves which failed.
But perhaps the most telling fact is not what mechanical components were used, but HOW they were used.
Given the increase in water pressure the deeper one goes into the ocean, via the Archimedean principles, drilling in deep water has always been and will always be problematic.
We have pretty good control over drilling technology in water depths of about a hundred feet, but the tapped oil well that's spilling is over 5,000 feet below the surface, meaning not only that drilling at that depth is problematic and dangerous, but fixing the problem is all the more problematic given the depth and pressure.
Why were we drilling nearly a mile down with ricky technology to begin with? Well it's certainly no question that the dependency of American's on fossil fuels has gone to a laughably ludicrous degree.
It's no secret that our dependency has become inexorably intertwined with our culture, so much so that most people's livelihoods depend on their ability to burn fossil fuels to drive to and from work. At this point, without automobiles, a good portion of our economy would screech to a grinding halt and countless millions would be displaced and unemployed.
Our dependency on our cars in America has only exacerbated our already dangerously sedentary lifestyle, to the point where over 90% of journeys from the home take place in a car. Even for those without the option to drive, being a pedestrian in America is growing increasingly more difficult, with new shopping plazas and businesses designed specifically with cars in mind, lacking an auto is a becoming more and more of a detriment to the average American.
The point of all this is, it's entirely possible that we've let the ease and convenience of the car lull us into a stupor and left us blind to the cost of our taking the path of least resistance. The spill in the gulf and our willingness to go to unsafe lengths to attain oil is all the more proof positive that our blase attitude toward exploitation of our natural resources will make us pay dearly for our avarice.
This is also all the more proof that our runaway economic structure, while having a great many attributes comes part-in-parcel with dangers, and that the free market is not a magical cure-all that can overcome any barrier and fix any conundrum.
There are some who might argue that a compete and utter lack of restrictions and regulations would allow our economy to run at an optimum level. Even if this is true, we can clearly see that the consequences of letting blind ambition run rampant and putting potential profit before long-term environmental and health benefits is a powder-keg of potential, unmitigated disaster.
Some might argue that any limitations imposed on business or capital enterprise is a grievous overstep by the government. Well to those people, I ask them how lack of governmental regulation and control failed to prevent distribution of children's toys containing lead and strychnine from China.
I also implore them to go down to the cost of Louisiana, any part of the cost of Louisiana, pick a fisherman at random, look him in the eye and tell him that the free market and utter lack of governmental regulation is going to somehow reverse the uncounted millions of tons of oil being dumped into the gulf, the base of 90% of the nation's supply of shrimp and the fact that we can't even come close to estimating how long it's going to take to reverse the problem.
The bottom line is that we've seen this is a much bigger issue that restricting the free exchange of business, this is about a trust and our stewardship over the well-being of this country. There isn't any other sentient species that can be trusted to preserve the health of the Gulf, or the rest of the country for that matter for the sake of wildlife or for future generations. Conservation is a larger issue than monetary policy. Right now, we're the only ones who have the ability to protect the integrity of our environment, and it's the responsibility of the Government to preserve and defend, not only the Constitution but the health and livelihood of the people they represent, and they can best do that by realizing the importance of environmental legislation and how not only short-term economic interests, but long-term environmental interests need attention.
Yes I'll admit it is a bit derisive to stand on high and cast aspersions while there's still a huge problem to be solved. Hindsight is 20/20 after all, and one can only accomplish so much by singing the "Told Ya So" song. [link]
But seeing as how I'm a self-professed Environmental nut job, I've been shouting platitudes like this for years, and do you really expect me to say anything different now?
Well, in any case, with the duration the oil's been escaping it's underground well and the damage that's already been caused, it would seem to be a very grim, very long slog, and a very long time before any improvement can be seen.
The prospect of dealing with an all but indomitable problem doesn't bode well for our current Commander in Chief.
There has been speculation that the spill will do to President Obama's political career what Hurricane Katrina did to George W. Bush, or what the Iran hostage crisis did to Jimmy Carter. Based on the potential for utter decimation, not only to the environment but to the livelihood of people all along the gulf coast... these speculations may not be entirely unsound.
If things continue to get worse, it's entirely possible the issues can be used as leverage against Obama in the 2012 election, and end the political career of our first African American Commander in Chief.
While the spill was not directly the fault of Obama, and there being little more that Obama can have authorized to be done besides everything he can do with the checks and balances and ubiquitous fumbling of Governmental offices, the spill unquestionably happened "On Obama's Watch," and the unlikelihood of a return to normalcy after such a disaster is so great, it's likely History will judge Obama as having to take the fall for the spill.
Where political winds might blow it's hard to say, and anything can happen in two years, but it's quite a grim distinction for Obama to have on his Presidential record.
If the Obama administration ceases to be a going concern after only one term, brought down by an oil spill he had nothing to do with, it will be a sad end to an experiment with our first non-white President, and in the democratic party no less.
While it might not come as a terrible surprise today that our first black president is a Democrat, in a historical context it's nothing short of flabbergasting.
When you consider the Republican party was the party of Lincoln and has the longest history of desegregation, and before the Emancipation Proclamation the Democratic party billed itself as "The White Man's Party," even going so far as to have the official anthem of it's political rallies be a song called "Nigger Doodle Dandy."
(I'm absolutely not making this up. Check the firsthand historical accounts if you don't believe me. [link]
So with the possible abbreviated end of our first black administration, I find it sad that this noble, inspiring experiment in democracy might well be shot down by such a dreadful problem.
Well, as for the gulf itself, there's the matter of cleaning it. Which is a perplexing proposition to say the least.
Since the leak is tapped directly into a crude oil well, we estimate it could go on for no one really knows how long. Preliminary estimates say that some 23% of the well has already been spilled, but there's really no way to know for sure.
As we know from past spills, cleaning them is a monumentally difficult task, and as this is the biggest spill in history, it's going to be a herculean feat to say the least.
As previously mentioned, the pressure 5,000 feet underwater makes drilling a relief well or making any attempt to "plug up the leak" very difficult and costly.
Thusfar, all efforts to contain the spill have failed.
There is even an option on the table for a tactical Nuclear strike.
The idea has been done in Russia before to contain smaller leaks, essentially solidifying the sand on the ocean sediment to glass and preventing any further leaks.
The obvious problem with this is that if the device fails to act as planned, then we have more spilled oil, contaminated by the irradiation.
But while cleaning the spill may seem impossible, if we make no attempt to do anything, the consequences could be devastating, and not just for environmental or ecological reasons either.
Oceans are a vital aspect of weather systems on the planet, all climatologists know this. And since water with crude oil absorbs more heat than normal water (the darker color naturally is more head absorbent.) then it stands to increase the temperature in the gulf more than we've seen previous, and this does not bode well for weather systems.
The primary cause of tornados in the American midwest is warm fronts from the gulf colliding with cold fronts from Canada. With an increase in gulf heat, comes an increased risk or tornadoes, as well as the danger that warm water adds to the already volatile, self-strengthening storm cycle known as the Hurricane.
(And I don't want any guff about any Al Gore, "Inconvenient Truth" bullshit. This isn't political spin or fear-mongering, it's simple, High School-level physics and climatology.
But of course, one of the greatest perils is the long-term damage this spill could mean.
The consensus among scientists is that if the well spills it's full contents into the gulf, it could mean saturation as far as Cuba, even into the Atlantic and up to the Carolinas.
Oil is not kind to fragile shoreline ecosystems. For the most part, all the structural integrity for the seashore comes from the plant roots holding it together. When oil comes, it kills the plants and threatens not only the ecosystems but the entire shoreline as well.
I need hardly add the many species threatened by this spill, nor the uncounted millions that would stand to be threatened if the spill extends the maximum limits under current estimations.
The prospect of this is quite personal to me, for I, fortuitously until a few months ago, lived in southwest Florida, specifically on the gulf coast.
For the most part, I hated my life in Florida, mostly because of a biding hatred for the power structure and managerial practices in the company I worked in.
One of the few things that made my time in Florida bearable was the truly magnificent natural beauty that abounded all around me, quite literally out my front door.
If this oil spill reaches FLorida, it will not only spell doom for the millions of residents, but for it's ecological balance, the health and safety of much of it's unique wildlife and it's unsurpassable beauty.
has already pained a grim picture of what life in Florida, along with the rest of the gulf and surrounding areas could well look like, very soon.
And the thought of all that natural beauty, all that incredible biodiversity that gave me such joyous escape between hours of professional torment being blighted by the careless, avaricious hand of man makes me sad. Very sad.
The thought that the Florida I knew once might one day exist for me, only in my memories and in the photos I took while down there is cause for abject melancholy.
Too loose all of that in one fell swoop would be unthinkable. Yet now, it's entirely possible.
I will admit I've been a bit hyperbolic in this entry, and I didn't say "Fuck" nearly as many times as I implied I would.
I'm overlooking humanities potential to clean up after it's messes.
Deforested areas have been reforested again. Rivers that were declared irrevocably polluted have been made safe again in a single human lifetime.
We do have it in our power to ease the damage of this disaster, and with the national spotlight on the issue and the weight of the government along with international efforts to help contain the thing, we can at least be assured that we are taking a step in the right direction toward fixing this problem.
I've already made a financial contribution to the effort to clean the oil spill, and I suggest you all do the same at the link provided below. [link]
Well, in any case, I'm going to close out this long and rather tedious journal with a personal anecdote.
yesterday I sliced the fingernail on my left ring finger open with a knife. Ordinarily this would be problematic, but when you work as a high volume-production baker, it tends to be awfully problematic.
Obviously I'm okay because I've typed all this indigestible diatribe, and I'll recover fully eventually, but here's why I bring this up.
Ever since I read "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain, I've tried to live by his edicts: "Never show up late, never call in sick," along with, "Working through pain and injury count a lot in this business."
So, suffice ti to say when I took my high-volume production baking job at my previous place of employ in Florida, my willingness to live by Mr. Bourdain's edict went unnoticed.
I worked at hat place for 3 1/2 years and I never once took a sick day and I was only ever late twice.
Did anyone there give a shit? Fuck no!
So I was all but speechless when I cut myself open at 9 am and my boss gave me the option to go home.
I opted instead to work the whole of my 8-hour shift one-handed, no easy task, and I was praised for my drive and tenacity for working through pain and injury.
I had thought Anthony was wrong, and loyalty and devotion really meant nothing in the foodservice biz. Happily, I was right, until I left the place of employ I should have left long ago and finally found a place to work with sane people.
Well, in any case, I leave you all, dear reader perhaps a little more knowledgeable than when you first read this journal, a little warier of the problem we face, hopefully in a frame of mind to want to do something positive, and hopefully a bit of faith that the best of humanity will shine through in this dark hour.
Take care, everyone.
"Once you choose hope, anything's possible."