Yesterday was day 80 of the Gulf Coast Oil Disaster. It seemed that every radio show I tuned to had someone on talking about the ecological consequences of the disaster. My heart felt heavier and heavier as I listened to what sounds like the end of life, as we have know it in the Gulf Coast, for decades to come.
I grew up in New Orleans, but was born and spent the first 6 years of my life in the bayous, 90 miles south of New Orleans, in Plaquemines Parish. Vague, early, childhood memories of fields of water, interspersed with jetties, roads, and islands of houses flood my brain. Water was everywhere. I think I learned to swim before I learned to walk.
Memories of my Father often include bodies of water. Walking hand-in-hand, me so small, he so large and powerful; walking down the short flat road, the fields of water just a stones throw away.
A pain strikes my heart. How can it be that a corporation is allowed to destroy the Gulf and the Coast for a generation or more? When will the cost to the environment, the Mother on whose body we live, be figured into the cost of doing business?
When will a little girl again walk with her Daddy down a small town bayou country road, asphalt bubbling in the heat, to put their crab traps in the water? A generation of little girls will not have that walk with their daddies down to the pier, murky wide expanse of water glistening in the sun, pulling up the traps, squealing in delight at the sight of crabs.
The crabs are dead and dying; the fishermen’s boats are idle or else working in toxic waters to clean up the oil gusher. The water is infused with oil; chemical disbursements wreck even further damage, pushing the oil down to smother the ocean floor while spewing their own brand of toxins. Tar balls are now reaching Lake Pontchartrain, the site of summer childhood swimming excursions, until the pollution got so bad the water was declared off–limits. An Associated Press investigation found more than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf are in danger of leaking, with about 13 percent said to be particularly worrisome.
What a complicated web we have woven for ourselves, this interdependence of our lives on oil and technology. It seems obvious that now is the time for bold thinking and bold actions to move our world in a different direction. Indian environmentalist, scientist, philosopher and eco-feminist, Vandana Shiva advocates helping communities adapt and become resilient in the face of ecological disasters and climate change. The people who live in the land of my birth will certainly need help adapting to the huge cological changes brought by this oil disaster. I have an idea brewing which might help with some of these enforced changes. I’ll keep you posted as it develops.