Stark reminder from the Gulf of Mexico about our priorities

Posted May 17th, 2010 in Blog, Featured 3 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:


Look, it really is no comfort to say the unfolding disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico may be a catalyst that makes us begin to realize what our crazed fossil-fueled economics of growth and individual consumption are doing to the planet. We already know this and did not need to sacrifice the Gulf and its many living creatures for the sake of this knowledge.

No, no comfort at all.

Source: BP

Worse, this is not just an accident; it is criminal negligence, a criminal conspiracy involving oil companies, rig makers, drilling-lovers, politicians paid off by the industry, and federal agencies conspiring with the oil and coal industries to wreck our planet for the sake of profit and power.

We have to just say some of this out loud.

We know right now, this very minute, we are being lied to about the extent of the oil spill (Oil spill imperils an unseen world at the bottom of the gulf, How Big is the Spill, or this), the damage from the toxic dispersants being used to ‘break up’ the oil, now at depths never tried before – which means a grand toxic experiment being done in the depths where dolphin and whales do their diving, and where the summer loop current will take these chemicals and oil to the fragile wonderland off the coast of Florida.

From the Washington Post (link above): “If you apply the dispersants to the source of the oil down there, you are completely hiding the problem,” said Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace. “It looks like it’s gone away, but there is no ‘away’ in the ocean. It’s like sweeping it under the rug.”

So today I embed this 1:17 minute Coast Guard video as a meditation (or, for subscribers, click here to view), and follow with a quote from Leonardo Boff from an essay written after the failed climate change conference in Copenhagen last December, entitled The Road to Disaster. Boff is a Latin American liberation theologian, now doing eco-theology, and a member of the Earth Charter Commission:

…the great villain is the capitalist system with its consumerist culture. As long as we maintain the world capitalist system, it will be impossible to reach a consensus that puts life, humanity and the Earth at the center, and adopts measures to save them. In capitalism, centrality is given to profit, private accumulation, and the growth of competition. The nature of economics as the art and technique of the production of goods necessary for life was distorted long ago. It was transformed into a brutal technique of wealth creation for its own sake, with no other considerations. Such wealth is not even for enjoyment, but solely to produce more wealth, in an obsessive logic, without checks.

This is why ecology and capitalism are mutually exclusive. There is no possible compromise. The discourse of ecology seeks an equilibrium among all factors, a synergy with nature, and a spirit of cooperation. Capitalism destroys that equilibrium by dominating nature, establishing a ferocious competition among all, and attempting to extract everything possible from the Earth, until she can no longer sustain herself. If capitalism participates in the ecology discourse…[it] is to profit from it.

Moreover, capitalism is incompatible with life. Life demands caring and cooperation. Capitalism sacrifices lives, creates workers who are true slaves ‘pro tempore,’ and adopts child labor in several countries.

The negotiators and the political leaders in Copenhagen were hostages of this system, that traffics, seeks to profit, and does not hesitate to endanger the future of life. The capitalist tendency is suicidal. What agreement can there be between the wolves and the lambs; that is, between nature, that begs for respect, and those who devastate her without pity?

…Whether we like it or not, this is the unvarnished truth… [to] capitalism, it is not life and the Earth that matter, but advantage and material profits.

This sounds so much like the discourse we are hearing around the BP/Transocean/Halliburton disaster that one can only wonder at a culture that still won’t get it – even now.

So, courage, friends, this is going to be a very difficult ride here on the planet. Unless we are willing to get serious about this ‘heart of the matter,’ if we still believe we can save the planet within this very system that is wrecking it, we will continue to work around the edges while the center collapses.

This will take courage, one of the primary values of a spirituality of ecological hope. We need to be as clear, urgent and prophetic as Boff, and as strong in our defense of the life of the planet.


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3 Responses

  1. Steven Earl Salmony

    These times are especially difficult because silence is vanquishing science. Extant science of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth is everywhere eschewed. People who speak out in public discourse about these topics are ridiculed and isolated. Being rejected by willfully colluding deniers of what could somehow be real would not be a such a problem if the human-induced global challenges already visible in the offing were not so formidable and so likely to threaten human wellbeing and environmental health in the fairly near future.

    Whatsoever the odds, and no matter how daunting are the human-driven challenges which loom ominously before the family of humanity on the far horizon, each one of us has undeniable responsibilities to assume and solemn duties to perform as best we can with the steadfast hope of making the world we inhabit a better place for the children to live in. To do otherwise, much less choose to do nothing but more of the same old unsustainable things we are so selfishly, arrogantly and wrong-headedly doing now, is anathema to me.

    Perhaps necessary changes toward sustainable lifestyles and eco-friendly business enterprises are nearly at hand.

  2. Virginia Michelsons

    Listened to PBS Charley Rose today. Had Bill McGibbon with his new book Eaarth. Was interesting and informative. We won’t get anywhere with our energy problems until we take politics out and use international scientists making decisions instead of the oil industry. The international scientists could decree boycotts on trade to countries that don’t cooperate. Money rules now but you can’t eat money when the resources are depleated and destroyed. Main stream media are guilty of being bought off also. Use the internet to bombard congress to get serious about our environmental problems. Include the President. Ginger

  3. hombredelatierra

    This excellent article by Richard Heinberg of the Postcabon Institute discusses the unsustainability of China’s coal-fired economy. The impending stagnation of China’s economic growth is important because, in the globalized economy, the failing (unsustainable) Western economies are counting on Chinese growth (and hence trade) to keep them afloat. Through chain reaction, the inevitable stagnation of China’s unsustainable coal-fired economy will abort the nascent “clean coal” economy currently being promoting in the US: “peak coal” price hikes in China will drive up coal prices world wide; these will, in turn, render “clean coal” technologies prohibitively expensive on this side of the Pacific.

    In sum, the system is broke and too broke to fix..

    We need a New System.

    And we WILL have a New System (the Old one dying): either it will be forced on us or, with a modicum of Wisdom, we will learn to ride the waves of chaotic change to minimize the terrors of system destruction / reconstruction.

    Meure Un monde que Le Monde naisse!
    Let A world die that The World be born!