Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Friday, I should be happy

I should be happy, but all I can think about right now is the oil spill in the gulf.
Places that my family has ties to, places full of a dizzying array of life, covered in oil.

This piece sums up a lot of my thinking on the subject.

Today I have little rage toward oil companies and coal companies. They are, after all, doing a service for billions of us with their gas tanks and electricity meters. We're all to blame. Though I no longer drive, though I live in a city (Portland, Ore.) where I can choose renewable sources of electricity (wind farms and hydroelectric power), the spill weighs heavily on my soul.

How can we stop causing such terrible disasters? It's not easy, surely; it takes a recalibration of our true needs. "But I must drive" -- to work, to the grocery store, to pick up your children from school, to take your mother to the hospital, you may be saying to yourself. I know people who chose a job that paid $20,000 more each year with an 80-mile round-trip, people who need to live in roomy suburbs and commute to the city, people whose needs for consumption and activities and the right schools require driving each day, spending hours on the road in the service of more money, more opportunity, more stuff.
I keep asking myself if there is more I can do to prevent such things from happening. Are there more ways I can reduce my driving? More ways to reduce my plastic use? More ways to reduce my energy use?
Lots of questions, lots of sadness, no easy answers.


Ken said...

Well, unfortunatly we always go with what's cheapest, oil is cheap. The problem of course is also social/cultural competition, sorta survival of the fitest, for the new era, use up the other guy's goods, and keep mine, the only way to defeat this is through strong moral/religious/cultural views - which of course you do not have in a diverse society, only in a homogeneous group or an iron-fisted governmental control. If I shop at walmart to save money for me, my neighbor looses his job, if I shop where he makes the clothes, but his neighbor doesn't and saves money, he than can "get" the upper hand on me. Unfortuantly the worset possible thing is globalization, tariffs should have been enacted 30 years ago. Cultural revolutions need to happen for those that can affect change - Mexico for example has to clean itself up first - with help - perhapse, but not slave labor to the U.S. Anyway, good luck - the end is on it's way, mother nature will deal just fine with the oil, it will be us, that may have polluted ourselves out of some food/resources.

One last point, if they really gave a crap - which they don't because it's all about money - they would have had a submarine torpedo the "pipe", which would have sealed it off - permanently. However, you can bet your bottom dollar they're still trying to extract every ounce they can, without, shutting it down. It's really quite hilarious, we've explored it all before in science fiction, but we trudge right down that path. Ya, ya we'll try and tame the "Alien" - from the movie, for our bio-weapons division. Same damn thing. Don't completely shutoff the spigot, we can harvest some oil. ha ha ha

Jennie said...

Hi Ken! Nice to have a new commenter.

Getting the upper hand and keeping up with the neighbors, truly are traps. I try to avoid it at all costs. You're spot on about the almost Catch-22 nature of it.

I've found that trade and barter can short circuit that particular loop. Instead of paying money for the clothes your neighbor makes, which you probably can't afford, find something that you make that said neighbor equally couldn't afford to buy. Swap or trade, no money involved, both people get what they need/want and the community is more robust.

It takes more work than just handing over $$, you actually have to talk to your neighbor and try to understand some of his needs. It definitely takes some practice and patience, but I think it's worth it.

Ugh.. on the last point, again, I think you're right. Why didn't they top kill this sucker after the first attempt failed? Why were they allowed to drill somewhere so deep they had no idea how to close it? The answer to both is money, of course.

Mam Gaia will indeed take care of it, 10 or 20 years is nothing to her. LA fishermen and shrimp trawlers may become refugees this winter when they can't feed their families or heat their homes. And it's definitely not going to help the unemployment numbers. But really, the Gulf was one huge Dead Zone every summer ANYWAY, from all the fertilizers washed down the Mississippi from states such as my own sweet Iowa. The way I see it, this spill will either be the motivation to clean up the Gulf and rehabilitate it, or the turning point towards writing it off as the US toilet. We shall see.

Ken said...

You made very good points indeed. I didn't think about the fertilizer. And, wow - yes, barter is a good plan if you have the network and capacity. Being a wage slave though, I'm in rough shape when it comes to spare time, and lately, I can't really explain why I've been really, really tired. Maybe old age or perhaps something else. Well, good luck, Ken

Ken said...

Opps, I forgot to say, I'm not that old, either - must be something in the water! ha ha

Jennie said...

Yea, free time is definitely the pincher. I'm lucky enough to have my hubby home every day with our son. He really helps take care of the lions share of the chores needed to keep the place ticking. That leaves some spare moments on the weekends and even some evenings for me to sew/knit/quilt.

Rowen is definitely NOT a help with the sewing and knitting, he finds all the moving parts and shiny scissors very intriguing. :-P He's 1 year and 2 months at this point and gets into EVERYTHING. :-D

As for tiredness, the first place I always look is diet. There's some interesting research out there about blood type appropriate diets, ph balanced diets and recognizing subtle signs (tiredness is one of them) of mild food allergies. Or, you might just have an energetic 2 year old wearing you out. :-D