Cross posted at Film Annex
“Chevron oil rig on fire in Niger Delta,” “BP’s Deepwater Horizon sinks in Gulf of Mexico,” “Shell confirms oil leak in North Sea,” “Massive fish kill in Trinidad and Tobago.” The headlines have become as familiar as announcements of freeway pile ups and severe thunderstorms.
From Nigeria to the North Sea, from the icy chill of Alaska’s Beaufort Sea to the azure bathwater of the Southern Caribbean the scripts are eerily similar. They tell stories of thousands of oil or gas rigs, tens, hundreds of thousand of abandoned wells and the extraction of fossil fuels from the earth. Tales of pirates hunting treasure, not cargoes of gold on sunken galleons but poisonous black sludge buried millions of years ago under thousands of feet of rock, under miles of ocean.
The stories begin in sweat and toil, hard labor and mind numbing tedium, stories of men drilling holes in the Earth. Then the special effects begin and the drama unfolds.
Read more at Film Annex
A few decades ago I lived across the river from Arches National Park in Southern Utah. Arches and nearby Canyonlands National Park are spectacular in their beauty but much of the entire “Four Corners” area is awe inspiring and filled to overflowing with stunning images, stark desert tranquility and a serene, almost mystical timelessness.
People from all over the world who have never visited the area are familiar with these canyons and mesas, haunting red rock vistas, from the movies of John Ford, from Marlboro Man ads and from more car and truck commercials than I can count.
It sometimes seems as if these towering mesas were created for the sole purpose of serving as pedestals for shiny pickups lowered from helicopters by Los Angeles ad agencies.
In my younger days I backpacked and camped in winter and summer through the west, from the mountains of the Cascades to the thermal pools of Yellowstone, I’ve witnessed up close the depths of the Grand Canyon and the stirring heights of Yosemite. I have never been more moved and inspired by the unadorned and unmolested beauty of the Earth than I was in the desert canyons and mountains of Southern Utah.
Yesterday a young man named Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison for impeding the process of granting federal oil leases at nearly two dozen sites in close proximity to Arches and Canyonlands, both pristine and protected areas.
I cannot imagine looking over the rim of Bryce or the Grand Canyon and seeing a field of oil derricks, monster trucks hauling ore from a giant strip mine, or ascending a quiet fern-covered hill to discover boom trucks loaded with redwoods being hauled from the ancient rainforest framed by the swirling dust and diesel fumes of a backwoods logging rape.
Those visions are what Tim DeChristopher sought to prevent, or at least to forestall by his courageous and solitary act of defiance.
I cringe at the fact that we allow the people and interests involved in stealing the tops of our mountains, fouling our oceans and waterways with their industrial sludge and turning our atmosphere into an un-breathable, poisonous gas to walk free among us.
That we allow them to continue to exert their influence in state capitols and the halls of congress while this decent, justifiably concerned and creatively bold young person languishes in prison is a travesty and sets exactly the wrong example.
That DeChristopher committed a crime under the “law” is beyond dispute, but the fact that his actions were taken to prevent much greater crimes must be understood and recognized by the courts and fact that they are not points directly to the degree of control that money and corporate influence have over our courts.
A symbolic slap on the wrist, a suspended sentence or probation would have satisfied the “law” and sent the proper message to those who continue to wantonly assault our common resources, while destroying our environment and threatening our lives.
For more on this case and to take action please visit: Tim DeChristopher’s Imprisonment: Our Call to Action!
Originally posted at Clean Technica: Tim DeChristopher? They’re Jailing the White Hats
In a few minutes the ancient maple tree across the street from my open window will explode with light as the sun rises behind it. A few minutes later I’ll have to adjust the blinds to keep zillions of crazy excited photons out of my eyes and in an hour or so, the cat, who loves to sleep in the window at the back of my desk, will find it uncomfortably warm. He’ll get up, stretch, toss me a disdainful look and move lazily to the bed to continue his nap, allowing me to shut the window against the onset of July’s heat.
This is a moment of predictability that I share most summer mornings with the Sun and the cat, it’s become as regular as coffee, the maple ablaze with dawnlight, the disrespectful feline, the heat that moments ago left the sun and traveled through spacetime to annoy my cat and warm this meager room.
Something fascinates me about this time of my day and I suspect that the wonder is a product of its predictability. The sun does this every day, rising within a few degrees of latitude and as the seasons pass, discomfort with the heat turns to welcome. If I were Mayan perhaps I could chart the travels of the sun but I doubt that even the Mayans could chart the whims of this cat.
We spend untold billions of dollars, and human eons of time trying to produce what this predictable old sun scatters with chaotic abandon through my corner of the universe daily. Trillions, or some other more impressively nonsensical number of particles of light and energy with names as strange and whimsical as my languid cat, shoot through my window daily, at no charge and with no effort on my part. In summer, I try to shield myself from the sun’s onslaught, in winter I try to encourage and collect the warmth and comfort it offers.
But I can’t prevent it, any more than I can make this cat perform close order drill or fetch my coffee.
What is it in us that refuses to accept what the sun offers for free while we destroy mountains and oceans, rivers and forests, species and generations of humanity in a futile attempt to reproduce its products for sale?
Originally posted at Clean Technica: Here Comes the Sun, There Goes the Cat
Editor’s note: In response to “How many lawmakers does it take to…,” by Jeff Jacoby in today’s Boston Globe.
I switched to CFLs in 2006. With the exception of one bulb which broke when I clumsily knocked over a lamp, every CFL that I bought five years ago is still in use today.
They have provided light and a small but significant savings of energy and money. I haven’t bought an additional bulb in a couple of years.
We have accepted limits on the flow rate of our faucets and the flush rate of our toilets in the interest of conserving precious water. We’ve accepted fuel efficiency standards for our vehicles as a measure of reducing pollution and conservation of petroleum resources.
Much of society, of civilization, is concerned with placing limits on human activities, on behavior, on consumption of resources.
In the interest of protecting what we hold and use in common we place restrictions on the production of poisons, pollution, weapons, incendiaries and even noise.
Now, Jeff Jacoby tells us that the same people who rolled over for the Patriot act, illegal wiretaps, and public body cavity searches of small children and grandmothers are headed for the barricades over being deprived of the use of incandescent light bulbs?
We do not occupy this planet alone, the universe does not revolve around us, society is about setting limits, so grow up, get over it.
Yes, your freedom is threatened but will you complaisantly watch your elections rigged by corporate interests, your right to privacy voided, your children violated, and go to the ramparts over light bulbs?
Please vote for the environment and urge your friends to do the same.
Next Tuesday a schoolteacher from Connecticut, an organic farmer from California, and a biologist from Colorado will cast their ballots with at least one thing in common – they will have read this and they will be even more determined to vote to protect our planet.
At my polling station in Dayton, Ohio I will add my voice to theirs and cast my ballot for the environment.
And I will forward this to my friends and family to urge them to vote at least in part on how our candidates will treat our natural world.
Will you join us?
“Open range,” The term conjures images of cowboys and the west, of black and white movies, barbed wire, and cattlemen pitted against sheepherders and homesteaders in black and white struggles.
The wars over open range still rage today, the cattlemen are still there, although they’re more likely to saddle up a pickup truck than an Appaloosa gelding. The fences are there as well, a regular chore in ranching, keeping the cattle where you want them and off the roads where you don’t want them means staying after the fences.
I don’t know what happened to the sheepherders, wearied of the same tired old plot lines I suppose and just moved on. (more…)
[Pro Publica's Marian Wang reports on the spin being provided to middle school students by BP and the NOAA regarding the safety of Gulf Seafood and the contamination of the Guf with 206 million gallons of crude oil and a million gallons of dispersants. Truthout gives a slightly different picture in Evidence Refutes BP's and Fed's Deceptions Bob Higgins]
By Marian Wang, ProPublica
Even as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls for more research into the long-term effects of the chemical dispersants BP used in the Gulf, representatives of BP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have reached out to local schools to “dispel myths” about dispersants and subsurface oil, according to recent reports in the Houma Courier and the Tri-Parish Times. (We first noticed the Tri-Parish Times piece via TreeHugger.) (more…)
BP is reportedly spending more than a million bucks a week on their friendly, sensitive Bubba next door ads in an attempt to repair their brand and convince the public that they are aware of the fact that they might have committed a bit of a faux pas in the Gulf of Mexico but they are doing everything humanly possible to make it right.
Here’s a statement for the tourist and travel brochures in hotel lobbies and airplane seat backs: Mississippi River Brimming with Dead Fish Near Gulf of Mexico. Follow the headline with pictures from Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana and you’ve got yourself a certified tourist magnet. (more…)
[Editor's note: This began as a comment this morning to "Oil spill: The nightmare becomes reality" a Carl Hiaasen piece on the arrival of BP's poisonous gusher of crud on the shores of Pensacola.]
You’re right; it is difficult for people living far from our coasts to feel the horrible weight of this disaster.
I live in Ohio but have lived on the coasts of California and North Carolina. I have also lived through and helped clean up an oil spill near San Francisco in 1970 or thereabouts. I have friends and family though who have never seen or at least never lived near the sea and had it become, as seems inevitable to me, a part of them.
If you sit on a hill overlooking your local harbor or coastal area (a fat dune will do) and watch the ebb and flow of the ocean, its cycle of life, through days and nights, its tides, the winds shifting from onshore to offshore, the ceaseless march of crabs and gulls of all the limitless life of the sea you will soon notice another ebb and flow.
BP’s ‘Prince of Public Relations’ Tony Hayward left his reluctant witness chair in Washington and headed (by private jet I assume) for the Isle of Wight for a typical family weekend of … yachting or more correctly ‘yacht racing.’
Hayward’s yacht, a 52 foot Farr named ‘Bob’ was one of nearly 1700 entries in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. The race, which is being held this year for the 79th time is a 50 mile trip around the Isle of Wight and attracts some 16,000 sailors from around the world.
It is unknown how many shrimpers and skimmers from the Gulf coast entered this year.
‘Bob’ a grey hulled Farr 52 built in 2000 is listed among the race entries as entered in the IRC Division ‘0’ by Rob Gray, Sam Laidlaw, and Tony Hayward. Bob placed 4th in it’s class which was won by ‘Velsheda, a ‘J’ class yacht built in 1933 and skippered by Oliver Tizzard.’
Among the many thrilling moments in the race was the saga of Mike Slade whose ICAP Leopard was impeded by a lobster pot until being freed by a diver; ‘Sadly there was nothing in it’ said Slade. (more…)
The Guardian reports that according to figures provided by BP ‘Weasel in Chief’ Tony Hayward, the Macondo field reservoir now emptying into the Gulf of Mexico contains enough oil to continue spewing at the current rate for more than two years.
Hayward told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the reservoir contains 50 million barrels of crud and is gushing at the rate of 60,000 barrels a day which would give it the capacity to continue for 833 days.
Using the government’s present flow estimates of up to 60,000 barrels a day, BP’s well could go on gushing for two to four years, unless it is stopped.
BP and the administration say they are containing a rising share of the oil from the well, and hope to plug the gusher completely by August, when two relief wells will be complete. BP said today that the relief wells were within 60 metres of the ruptured well.
A few days ago while randomly browsing on the web I read an article at the Kansas City Star that sent a quick chill through my bloodstream: “Intelligence director: Worldwide economic crisis top U.S. security threat.
The story, by McClatchy writer Warren Strobel detailed remarks to congress made Monday by National Security Director Dennis Blair, who in a significant break with the Bush administration policy of treating terrorism and weapons proliferation as the greatest threats to national security, gave clues that new focus would center on the potential social unrest resulting from the world financial crisis.
Retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair said the worldwide economic downturn could spawn political instability across the globe, hamper U.S. allies and drain support for the American-led international free-trading system.”Time is probably our greatest threat,” Blair said in prepared remarks before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests.”
A day later the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick quoted Blair (in the same remarks to congress) as saying this: