It Ain’t Gonna be Pretty

Over the ages, humans have more than proved their point—they’re the dominant ones. Nowadays they’re just rubbing Nature’s face it in. But they won’t feel so dominant when Mother Nature decides to really put up a fight. Once she gets started, it ain’t gonna be pretty, and man, you’ll curse the day you were born. It’s not like she hasn’t given plenty of fair warning, but every time she summons up an epic hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, humans react like a ants at  an anthill, and scurry to raise their levees, dikes and sea walls a little higher and rebuild their off-shore oil platforms.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed over 100 off-shore oil rigs (one of which floated for 50 miles before coming to rest in the shallows), while this year’s Isaac put 44 of them out of commission. The financial pages were quick to share the news that the Gulf of Mexico oil production was reduced by 901,726 barrels per day as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Yet the media barely covered the massive oil spills then, and we never heard much about the half million gallons of oil that sloshed into the Gulf after Hurricane Ike in Texas. Nor is there ever much talk of the persistent leaks and pollution that comes from the rigs; spills of more than 60,000 gallons scarcely make the news outside southern Louisiana.

It wasn’t long ago that there were no oil platforms in that pristine body of water that’s been a spawning ground for blue fin tuna and home to sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and an astounding array of bird life. Now oil derricks in the Gulf are considered a fact of life—but the ecosystem has suffered dearly for it.

Are we going to see a repeat of this scenario in the Arctic, now that anthropogenic climate change has caused the polar icecap to retreat far enough that the President just approved Shell oil to start drilling up there?

Carbon is a waste product of life and the atmosphere needs a certain amount of it to keep temperatures comfortable enough for life to thrive here. Yet never before in the long history of the earth has one species tapped into the vast pools and veins of carbon, safely stored underground for millions of years, and lit a match to it.  Now the one species who prides itself in being smarter than the others is using up its limited brain capacity devising ways to commandeer the planet’s carrying capacity, while smothering the atmosphere with the carbon of the eons in just a few short centuries.

From fashioning the first tools out of stone (a feat that our vegan cousins the bonobos have accomplished as well) to learning to raise food crops, experimentation has brought our species to where it is today. But now we’ve turned the whole planet into our own personal petri dish. God only knows what sort of punishment Mother Nature has in store for us when she wearies of our infernal domination games.

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2 thoughts on “It Ain’t Gonna be Pretty

  1. Jim, I happened to capture the Greenpeace Esperanza when she was in town (Seattle), drawing attention to the Shell vessels that were about to embark toward the Arctic (http://bit.ly/Mg70om). I wish for anyone involved in these decisions (the President, Shell Oil execs), to be forced to work hands-on with wild animals in an oil spill. It’s enough to rip your heart out …. well, if you have a heart, that is.

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