OP/ED: Heroes and villians in the face of an environmental disaster
The oil spill that now jeopardizes the entire ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, and potentially beyond, is a chilling reminder that all is not well with our planet. And what’s actually worse: the amount of oil gushing from the seemingly impossible-to-stop deep-sea oil well or the complacent attitude taken toward the spill by media, government and the vast majority of the general populace?
Sure the science isn’t in regarding how much oil has actually been spilt, but it’s one hell of a lot. Nor has anyone been able to figure out how to stop the leakage.
Mind you Kevin Costner is about to put on a new cape and wants to revitalize his Waterworld characterization and help clean it all up using his giant oceanic vacuum cleaners. I wonder if Woody Harrelson’s Defendor or Chloe Grace Moretz’s Kick Ass is busy? Kevin Costner can play the “hero” while Dennis Hopper revitalizes his role as the super villain and presto, Waterworld 2. The what ifs are endless when considering the many “opportunities” the oil spill presents in our never-ending drive to turn nearly every human tragedy and disaster into news-tainment.
And don’t forget, the current president of the United States. has just announced a new bi-partisan panel to investigate the spill. When all else fails, form a committee! The committee should then, optimistically speaking, be able and capable of talking the leak to death. Am I being slightly facetious? Maybe.
But sarcasm aside, the gulf oil spill is quickly turning into an unprecedented environmental disaster. Government is slow to respond – don’t rile the corporate lobbyists and election donators. Media is overly cautious – don’t rile corporate sponsors and advertisers. British Petroleum, in all its wisdom, recently reminded us that it is a relatively small oil spill when compared to the total volume of water in the ocean, even though this may turn out to be the largest oil spill in human history.
One of my greatest memories is having the opportunity to sail across the Gulf of Mexico with my wife in 1999. It took three days to sail from Mexico to Florida. Along the way dolphins would occasionally swim along the bow of our boat. We saw giant sea turtles taking a break from feeding and a man-of-war jelly fish floating along in the warm tropical breeze.
We would shower on the sailboat and then dive into the ocean to rinse off, holding onto a rope tied to the back of the sailboat as we slowly tacked our way toward the Keys. We caught fresh Tuna and feasted with wine. I felt the warm salt water spray against my face as ocean waves occasionally broke over the bow.
And during one incredible night, we sailed on an abnormally calm sea. There was no moon and the stars were out in brilliant abundance, stretching from horizon to horizon. As we made our silent way over the glass-like water, our boat wake disturbed the sea enough for a sparkling show of phosphorescence. It was magical, and something I cherish to this day.
Now I wonder if it will ever be the same or if the oil spill of 2010 will go down in history as the day the gulf forever changed…
Jason Harshenin is a past editor for the Grand Forks Gazette. He lives and works in Grand Forks.