Saturday, April 20, 2013 it will be exactly 3 years since the explosion of the BP oil rig Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 people and began the systematic sacrifice of the sea life, coastal plant and animal life, and tens of thousands of people’s lives, men, women, and children, on the altar of public image and corporate profits.
I was writing for Green Jobs Ready blog at the time, and as I wrote about the ongoing disaster, my attention was caught by the young fisherman’s wife, Kindra Arnesen (Blood in the Water, Part 2: From Bad to Worse ~ Dead Sea Creatures, Sick Fishermen, BP Exercises Expedience). She was one of the very few ordinary, working class people courageous enough to speak out about the effects of the oil and toxic dispersants gushing into and sprayed onto the Gulf of Mexico after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, and of the negligence, actively obstructive and destructive behavior, and abusive policies of corporate and government representatives having to do with the “clean up.”
This is Kindra at a press conference some 18 months later:
This could be my daughter or yours, her children my grandchildren, or yours.
The capped well is still leaking oil into the sea, by the way (look it up), while the major media has moved on to essential coverage of the antics of whomever is the current rich-and-famous-for-no-apparent-reason celebrity, while BP and others of their ilk have moved on to despoil other irreplaceable natural wonders and wilderness habitats, to say nothing of the literal devastation they continue to visit upon the lives of their fellow human beings in pursuit of profit and the power it conveys.
The spraying of toxic chemical dispersants (http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/344-208/11417-horrific-injuries-linked-to-bp-dispersant-corexit), may have continued, as well ~ as has BP’s defense of the use of Corexit as “about the same as dish soap.”
As recently as this past month, BP rep Bob Dudley, BP’s current CEO, made the following statement “I have not seen a single study, of people who have studied it scientifically, deeply, that would look back and say dispersants should not have been used. I do not believe anybody – anybody with almost common sense – would say waves of black oil washing into the marshes and beaches would have been a better thing, under any circumstances….” (http://www.bridgethegulfproject.org/node/748) — despite the fact that Marine Toxicologist, Riki Ott –who had experience of its horrific effects in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and “clean up” more than 20 years ago–and other scientists all warned against their use.
Two years ~ two years ~ after the disaster in the gulf Dr. Ott published this blog post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riki-ott/gulf-oil-spill-anniversary_b_1440704.html calling on us, The People, to make it right, reminding us that big business and now, unfortunately, our own government, only take responsibility and act in the interest of the public ~ of the People ~ if we stand up, speak out, and make them ~ and supervise them while they act, like disobedient children who have to be watched to be sure they’re really doing their chores and not just shoving stuff under the bed.
“Almost two years later, nothing but death” ~
In a heart-rending blog post over a year ago, Kindra Arnesen tells of a visit she had from a heart-broken crew boat captain who had who had found a dead whale baby he “found floating off Chandelier Island” (http://www.bridgethegulfproject.org/node/572).
This is the picture of that dead whale baby ~ and admittedly, I’m not a scientist, but I am a mother who has given birth and, even as my horrified mind searches for other explanations, I know a miscarriage when I see one.
If the sea life is miscarrying due to the toxins in the gulf, do you even imagine that the same is not happing to young human mothers?
The end of Year 3 ~ Year 4 begins
I love the sea. I love the salt mist and seafood and sandy beaches, the blue/pink/purple hydrangeas, the salt spray roses, the seashells and sand dollars and horseshoe crabs, the blue waters that shift to steel grey on an incoming storm, the seals, whales, dolphins you can sometimes catch sight of if you’re lucky ~ and somewhere other than the gulf coast right now.
Because it’s still going on.
It is now another year later; have we learned our lesson? made it right? helped our neighbors in the gulf get their lives back? ensured that nothing like this can ever happen again? Hardly.
I have searched the internet over in the last few weeks ~ since I discovered the existence of a documentary called The Big Fix (http://www.thebigfixmovie.com/) ~ looking for more news of Kindra Arnesen, because I was glad and relieved to have gotten a glimpse of her in the documentary trailer. In each subsequent video I’ve seen, she has gotten more passionate, more outspoken, more outraged . . . and ultimately more dispirited, dismayed, and desperate as she, her husband and children, friends, neighbors, and even the home she loves, continue to be physically assaulted by toxins in the air and water, their current and future health irreparably compromised by the plagues visited on the gulf, and continued deliberate ignorance and indifference of those responsible for the devastation.
I can’t find anything more recent than that blog post six months ago about the dead whale baby and the grief of a stoic crew captain. I hope she and her family are okay, and that she knows that she isn’t forgotten. That her courage and compassion and voice have not been wasted effort. I so hope she knows that.
. . . is more people like Kindra, who exhibit, like she does, the very definition of courage: to speak up and do what’s right, even though you’re afraid. Without fear there is no opportunity to be courageous, and Kindra has courage by the (appropriately enough) boatload. We need more people to be like her ~ people like me and you.
Perhaps you think your one voice won’t make much difference. Or maybe you’re not drawn to the sea like I am, don’t care much for seafood, live inland and are happier in the mountains or the prairies or rolling hills and forests, content with the lakes and rivers and ponds in your neck of the woods. And those natural places ~ and people ~ you love aren’t at risk from this admittedly tragic event.
You have your own concerns, a family to feed and clothe, work to do, bills to pay. And somehow all of that seems to get more difficult with each passing day. You’re working harder and longer, for the same or less money, and the money you do earn is worth less than it was, while the cost of food, clothing, housing, utilities, health care (if you can get it), continues to go up. You’re struggling to keep you own head, and those of your family, above water.
I understand. I do, believe me. Because, you know what? Me, too.
And yet . . . .
The oil itself ~ more than 210 million gallons before the well was “capped” plus whatever continues to seep from the capped well daily ~ will continue to spread through the eco-system across the earth, as tidal waters carry it into the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, the arctic, and ultimately through all the seas and waters of the world. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that.
And thanks to BP and its cohorts in government, the oil carries with it the toxic chemical dispersants sprayed to hide the oil while pretending to do the right thing, clean it up, and protect the people helping them to do so.
Like all systemic toxins, the poisons will insinuate themselves into every form and aspect of life ~ everywhere ~ including the pond you fish in, the lake your kids swim and play in, the rivers and reservoirs that supply water to your home, for bathing, cooking, drinking.
For many species ~ including ours ~ the disaster that began with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon may well be an extinction level event.
If we don’t rise up and stop this kind of thing happening anymore; if we don’t make the powers that be take responsibility for what they’ve done; if we don’t make them pay for their mistakes, enough that they won’t ever want to repeat them; if we don’t stick with it until those responsible have fulfilled their commitments and kept their promises ~ the disaster in the Gulf may be just one component of an on-going extinction level event for all of us.
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
– Rachel Carson, Marine Biologist and Author of Silent Spring
I like to think most of us would take the road less traveled by, and that we would choose to share help and hope with our fellow travelers along the way ~
I hope to see you there ~