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ruthless compassion
02 June 2010 @ 08:31 am
For the past month, all day, every day, a pocket in my mind is agonizing about the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. It pains me to think about the environmental impact of it, and the sheer waste of it makes me want to scream. Okay, oil is energy, and it powers every last corner of our daily life, and these tons and tons of it are just going to waste, when at the very least, something good could have come of them. They could have been turned into hospital tubing that carries lifesaving blood to patients, or powered the engine of a car carrying someone home to see her family. Instead, it's just making a horrifying mess of a beautiful part of the world.

So, you can imagine how I felt upon reading this article about how utterly normal this kind of thing is. The Deepwater Horizon event gets a lot of attention because it's off US shores and in an ecosystem that a lot of people know and care about. That article discusses another oil spill that happened this spring -- actually, a whole series of major and ongoing spills and leaks -- that we don't hear about -- or I hadn't, anyway -- and I'll leave the why of that for you to figure out for yourself.

I hate how impotent I feel in the face of this stuff. My heart aches, and I think about what I feel like I can do. I briefly considered not using a private vehicle for the rest of the year, or not flying anywhere ever again, but that's like a grain of sand in the vastness of the ocean of how we use oil and won't make even a tiny difference, so it's hard to feel like it's worth making near every part of my life harder or more complicated just for the sake of a minuscule patch of moral high ground. And it's not like that would get me off the teat of the earth's black gold, because everything I consume comes to me by way of this rich energy, and I'm too embedded in my life to truly want to up and move to a subsistence farm in some fertile valley. It feels so damn insurmountable.

And then I come back around to simple bafflement. We all know that oil is a limited resource. There's lots of it, sure, but we use a lot, and we know the supply is, at the end of the day, finite. So why is it worthwhile for oil companies to use shoddy systems that, when they fail, spill so much of this stuff in such a harmful way? Why is it not worth a care for the people and places where these systems are in place? seems like a question that a multinational corporation just doesn't register at all, and that baffles me, too, but in the language of money, aren't these spills like pouring money into quicksand, never to be recovered?

It's gross. How can we internalize these costs into the cost of the oil we use? At the very least, if we're going to fuck up the Gulf of Mexico or the entire country of Nigeria in our fast-burning way of life, we should pay the real price.
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I'm feeling: angryagonized