I look out into the world and watch the slow spread of oil across the Gulf of Mexico creep across the collective consciousness of the country like the dawning realization of a drunk who’s just rammed his car head on into a family van. The screams and spinning wheels prying awake his dulled sense of culpability, and his capacity to grasp consequence.
And to put what’s happening there any less lightly would taint my credibility as a reporter on things sustainable.
Let’s really confront what we’ve done here, as a consequence of our addiction to fossil fuel. We’re looking at the probability that most, if not all, of the Gulf of Mexico will be contaminated with oil for centuries. We can probably write off any chance of the seafood in the Gulf being edible for humans again for a significant fraction of our lifetimes. This assumes, of course, that much sea life is even going to survive. The Gulf of Mexico already has a mini-crisis with low-oxygen levels creating localized Dead Zones (thanks to unsustainable farming practices) – spreading millions of barrels of oil over the Gulf will cripple the normal chemical exchanges that oxygenate ocean water. So it’s entirely possible that the Gulf itself will turn into the new Dead Sea.
And no – we don’t like to hear bad news. And as a professional in a field already overburdened with a reaction against negative environmental messaging (i.e. “you’re wrong and what you’re doing is bad”), I am keenly sensitive to people’s poor psycho-cultural reactions to negative reinforcement. But just as any sensible parent would take preventive measures, however harsh, to ensure their children don’t run out into the street – so too must the environmentally-minded cry foul when the truly foul doth occur.
There are times when only hard medicine will cure the disease. And this surely is one of them.
So let me start this by saying – “My name is Andrew Moore. I have a problem. I am a fossil fuel addict. My irresponsible choices helped create this crisis. If I want to stop this from happening again, I have to make better choices. My future, my children’s future, and my planet’s future depend on it. I want to quit fossil fuels, and I want to quit them forever. And I want to start Today.”
If we won’t own our demons, how to do we expect to conquer them? As Green a life as I strive to live, I still have to take my share of responsibility for what’s happened. And while there are certainly those who are more responsible than others (and they will be held accountable in more ways than one), I refuse to play the hypocrite and shy away from my own culpability in this catastrophe.
So here’s my challenge to you, gentle reader. If you look at this news unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, and feel even a fraction of the rage that I feel watching an entire ecosystem threatened with annihilation, then I call on you to take ownership of what’s transpired. Take a long, sober look in the mirror and admit the role you’ve played in causing this to transpire.
And if that hard dose doesn’t make you want to make some changes in your life, then my fellow citizen of this tiny blue marble: I don’t know what else will.