by Angeliska on September 3, 2010
Dead birds, dead fish, dead dolphins, dead people.
This is what I’ve been having bad dreams about,
the heavy weight pressing down on my chest for
almost half a year now. It’s been about five months
since Deepwater Horizon blew, and now this one.
How many more will falter under some fatal error,
and further poison the Gulf with crude? Man, I’ve
been quiet about it for a little while now because
no way around it – this is just beyond depressing,
beyond heartbreaking. The cover-ups and media
blackouts designed to keep our eyes trained on
a bright horizon festooned with dazzling drivel,
the shambling of celebrity trainwrecks infinitely
more intriguing than a bunch of oily birds, or sad
fishermen, or ruined beaches. But all this time,
I’ve been silently doing what I always do when
I don’t know what else to do: I sift information.
I collect snippets, I read everything I can, I
make long lists. I obsess, because if I don’t,
the deep sorrow at what we are doing to this
earth starts to make me feel like I want to lay
down and never get up. Instead, I keep my eyes
open. I look and look until I can’t anymore, and
then I try and go find some beauty in this world.
I look at that instead, I share it here – but it’s not
enough. I have to share these things, and I hope
that you’ll look too. This is what’s happening, my
friends. Everyday it gets closer, so if you reckon
it’s just not part of your immediate reality – well,
just wait. At some point, it will be. Maybe when we
all have to wear masks or respirators just to go
outside? Maybe then. Maybe not. Anyway, this
is all the stuff I’ve been reading since April –
some of it hopefully you’ve seen already,
but if not, take some time to go through even
a little of the links below. If you get through
them all, you deserve a major treat – maybe
a banana split! Seriously. I know it’s overload,
but I have to share all this stuff. It’s all out there,
but it’s so easy just to go to the next thing. Isn’t it?
✸ The Gulf’s Other Time Bombs
The spider web of gas pipelines lurking under the Gulf.
“Pilot Schumaker has been documenting the aftermath
of the BP Deepwater Horizon Macondo wellhead explosion
since May. Reached this evening for comment, Schumaker said,
Along the way, as we arrived at blue water, we saw three distinct
large pods (20-30 individuals) of gold-colored rays, and a large school
(25-30 individuals) of bottlenose dolphins near them. All of these were
in a region with moderate amounts of fairly healthy-looking sargassum.
But Schumaker also said that the Gulf did not look healthy as she flew to the platform.
Prior to reaching blue water, the first 50 miles off shore are a very strange
thick milky green with some strange black streaks spread throughout, with no
healthy sargassum and no signs of life. Where there is still blue water, and there
are many such places, there typically are bottlenose dolphins and good sargassum.
The rays were a welcome sight for sure, though, as I have not seen those within
75 miles of shore for nearly two months now.
All the more reason that media should not abandon the Gulf of Mexico just yet.”
✸ BP Spill: Catastrophe, Sure. Disaster? Nah.
“Given the size and far-reaching devastation of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,
you may have assumed that it qualifies as a federal disaster.
Though you’d have been wrong, you wouldn’t have been alone.”
— By Mac McClelland
“Since May, Catholic Charities of New Orleans has been delivering more than
$100,000 worth of emergency grocery and bill assistance; last week, the organization
announced that it’s out of money. “Right now we have people standing in food lines,”
says Costanza. ‘If this were a federal disaster, we’d get disaster food stamps. We’d
get disaster case management. Disaster mental health. Disaster unemployment.’
The Stafford Act would also activate an interagency task force that includes the
American Red Cross, which so far, Costanza says, ‘didn’t raise a dime.
Neither did the Salvation Army.’
The fate of the fishermen rendered unemployed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill
suggests the devastation that can occur in the absence of federal aid. Victims
were ultimately able to extract $1.1 billion in compensation from the company,
but only after 19 years of litigation. ‘A lot of them are dead, or bankrupt, or divorced,’
says Brian O’Neill, the lawyer who tried the case. ‘The impact of the spill on both the
natural environment and their abilities to make a living resulted in huge social disruption
in the fishing communities. There were increased rates of alcoholism, domestic violence.
Whatever social services existed were unable to handle it. Some communities didn’t survive
or are half the size they were in 1988. Whatever assistance BP is giving these people now,
that will taper off drastically when this is off the front page.’”
“No one is ready for it. Not the Minerals Management Service, catering submissively
to BP’s laughable Gulf oil-spill ‘plan,’ a document featuring wildly inaccurate wildlife
assessments (including walruses and other species nonexistent in the Gulf)
and an on-call expert who’s been dead for years.”
✸ Kindra Arnesen speaks out
This woman is my new hero. Please listen to what she has to say.
“In a blog post over the weekend, journalist Georgianne Nienaber argued
that this new regulation effectively prevents photographers from getting near
affected areas. ‘If the Coast Guard has its way, all media, not just independent
writers and photographers… will be fined $40,000 and receive Class D felony
convictions for providing the truth about oiled birds and dolphins, in addition to
broken, filthy, unmanned boom material that is trapping oil in the marshlands
and estuaries. One to five years in prison is a definite possibility for ‘willful violation’
of the latest Coast Guard directive that flies in the face of the First Amendment.
And, I guarantee you that writers and photographers will continue to try our best
to use cameras and words to explain to those who have not been there exactly
what is happening on our Gulf Shores. If we don’t continue to try, Americans will
no longer see the images and read the words that have been a voice for the
voiceless fishermen and women, coastal residents of the Delta, and the battered wildlife.”
– Georgianne Nienaber
Haiti relief worker, investigative journalist,
author of Gorilla Dreams: The Legacy of Dian Fossey
(and my other new hero)
✸ Trouble Down Below
Much of the spill’s damage will play out in the ocean’s deepest layers.
“Susan Spicer, one of New Orleans’ most prominent and highly regarded chefs,
has sued BP Plc for damages to restaurants that have lost normal seafood supplies
because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. ‘I just hope that my motivations will not be misinterpreted,’
she said from her restaurant Bayona in her first interview since the suit was filed Friday.
‘It’s more about solidarity in this region than about getting my piece of the pie.
I can’t say I expect to see a dollar out of this thing. I am just angry.’”
✸ Nigeria’s agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it
“The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines
around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta
have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades”
– John Vidal
“Williams Mkpa, a community leader in Ibeno: ‘Oil companies do not value our life;
they want us to all die. In the past two years, we have experienced 10 oil spills and
fishermen can no longer sustain their families. It is not tolerable.’”
“The factors that have caused 200,000 suicides in India are rooted
in the policies of trade liberalization and corporate globalization which
ensnare farmers in a spiral of indebtedness, generating despair.”
It’s all connected. We are all connected.
“It is no surprise that as the sea turns black in the gulf with no end in sight
in the midst of the biggest ecological disaster in US history, CocoRosie are
the only ones to hit the zeitgeist with an album filled with psychic omniscience,
entitled “Grey Oceans.” And yet it seems to be the album the indie US press
doesn’t want to talk about. Bianca and Sierra Casady paints pictures of lost
children across a broken land, feral, elemental spirits who roam the dreamscapes
of our world, naming perpetrators, painting their memories, recovering and reclaiming power.
They are unafraid to manifest their vision that the application of magical creativity could be a
balm for aching souls in a struggling world.”
- Antony Hegarty from Op-Ed: An Artists’
Dialogue On CocoRosie’s Grey Oceans
Something to heal your heart after all of that sadness:
CocoRosie – Lemonade
Maybe the best music video ever made.
“Journeying inward, into the forest-dark ember, led by crystal light,
the voicing of whales and ancient souls passed, we embarked;
slipping with muddy foothold, on a destination-less ride through
darkened waters filled with starry-eyed daughters. We have had
many guides, some dead ones, some alive, some sisters with names
pronounceable, others, just an inkling, the last heat of summer, seeping
up, out of the evening sunned soil in september. We close our eyes,
to hear the decoration, a burnt out corn field, a sad place to remember,
the story of a heartless crow, his countless cackles haunting, his mission,
misogyny. We dual waves, heavy laden with salt, of foisted female identity,
underlying, trinity is crying, she mourns so sweetly. Heavy on our hearts,
the weight of time; the earth who lost her balance
and fell into the snowy depths of industrial mucus.”