By Betsy L. Angert
copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Americans acknowledge there is a problem. Petroleum pours out from a broken pipe. Thousands of barrels of fuel flow freely through the Gulf of Mexico, just as they have for more than a month. Plants, animals, and people are affected. People express distress. Millions are dismayed. What can BP do? Indeed what can any company or citizens do? Most call upon the President. Mister Obama, the electorate pleads, please, protect us. These same citizens ignore that the protection we need is from ourselves. Our present circumstances are a reflection of our past. Many Americans have forgotten an earlier time, when another of this country’s Chief Executives attempted to avoid the nightmare we experience today.
In 2010, people, plants and animals cry out in pain. In 1977. Americans laughed at Jimmy Carter when he appeared on television donned in a sweater. President Carter had only been in Office for two weeks. Decades ago, Mister Carter warned Americans. The nation’s leader explained, if we continued to be as dependent on oil as we were, and are today, terrestrial doom would be our future. Yet, few heeded the call. Most did not take the President’s proclamation seriously. Then, and now, citizens prefer to guzzle petroleum and plunge further into what we think of as the good life. Our gluttonous ways have threatened the planet for a very long time.
As we gaze upon oil-soaked birds on our Gulf Stream beaches, or listen to the words of British Petroleum’s President, people ponder only the present. However, our history haunts us. Our choices in the last century have created what comes ashore in this millennium. Tarballs. Dead animals including dolphins, and pelicans, have perished. So many species affected, all unable to survive the sludge.
This is not a novel reality. Americans, indeed, those in worldwide-civilized countries, have experienced similar catastrophes. Nonetheless, humans persist. People do as they desire to do. Today, after the rig ruptured, man-“kind” engages in preventable hazardous activities, just as we have done before.
E.O. Wilson, a noted Harvard Professor and Researcher observes, “(F)or every animal celebrity that vanishes, biologists can point to thousands of species of plants and smaller animals either recently extinct or on the brink.” The numbers can only be estimated. However, Professor Wilson believes that those gone from an Earthly existence are in the many thousands. Regardless of the exact calculation, scientists agree; Humans driving extinction faster than species can evolve.
“Measuring the rate at which new species evolve is difficult, but there’s no question that the current extinction rates are faster . . . I think it’s inevitable,” said Simon Stuart, Chair of the Species Survival Commission for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The organization which officially declares species threatened and extinct cautions, as other conservation experts have. The world is in the grip of the “sixth great extinction” of species.
Humans have undone the natural balance. People drive destruction. Our craving for crude oil and coal kills natural habitats. We hunt in ways that hurt the ecosystem, spread alien predators and promote disease. The cruelty of climate change cannot be measured.
Even so, two-legged mortals carry on without care for their Mother, Nature.
We allow what we cannot control or comprehend. For a barrel full of petroleum, Mother Earth’s blood perhaps, or the baby she held safely in her womb. For centuries, man-“kind” drills deep into her skin, the Earth’s surface. Oh, of course scientists and the common folks surmise that man can do so without peril, regardless of “spills” or the effect of these on the environment. People wish to profess; we understand the relationship between Mother Nature and Texas Tea, or Louisiana Sea crude. Yet, might we consider what is evident?
Today’s Americans are as people in the past were. We are good at believing what we want to think true. We criticize and ridicule anyone or action that place our personal comfort in jeopardy. We chuckle when someone says we need to change! We worry only about our cash flow. A crippled economy concerns us more than birds, fish, fowl, flora, and the coral reef.
A Governor’s decree in support of sustaining the oil industry while his wetlands and workers struggle to survive only serves to solidify what animals, mammals, and amphibian creatures already knew. Mankind is crueler than any other critter; and yet, he or she calls him or herself humane.
Please may we acknowledge that we are part of the planet? We need not be the perpetual problem. Let us act as the Mother Earth’s Shepherd would and be the solution.
- Gulf oil spill’s threat to wildlife turns real, By Holbrook Mohr and John Flesher. Associated Press. June 5, 2010
- People hate BP and want Obama’s boot on its neck, By Greg Sargent. The Washington Post. June 2, 2010
- The Administration: Warm Words from Jimmy Cardigan. Time Magazine. February 14, 1977
- “Only Humans Can Halt the Worst Wave of Extinction Since the Dinosaurs Died, By E.O. Wilson.
- Humans driving extinction faster than species can evolve, say experts. By Juliette Jowit. the Guardian. March 7, 2010
- Bobby Jindal Asks Obama To End Moratorium On Deepwater Drilling, By Sam Stein. Huffington Post. June 3, 2020
- Gulf Oil Spill Pictures: Oil, Tarballs Hit Beaches. National Geographic. May 14, 2010