From LAURENCE LEWIS
[There is nothing more beautiful than a group of pelicans skimming just above coastal waters, calmly and majestically, at sunset. I have stood and watched a colony of pelicans in a Monterey inlet for hours at a time. This horrible destruction of nature cannot stand. -DS]
A mining disaster. An oil rig disaster. Honest working people killed just trying to make a living. Environmental devastation that is beyond our imagining, despite our imagining being based on truly terrifying scientific facts. There is no clean coal. There is no safe oil production. From those that suffer on the front lines of the extractive industries to all of nature suffering from the burning of what is extracted, this has to end. It has to end as soon as is possible. In the short term, that will mean much mutual sacrifice, but in the long term not only will it mean jobs, opportunities, and a new wave of economic growth, it will mean the possibility of a sustainable future for all humankind.
Even some right wing politicians now seem to be awakening to the specific dangers revealed by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. We must build on that awakening. Because it is but the merest glimpse, in the bruise light of dawn, of something so much larger, something so much more ominous, something so much more urgent and imminent. A future now cresting into being, while we stand dazed, oblivious, and distracted before the exigency of its inevitability. No matter how horrific the coming days, they are as nothing compared to those now careening toward us, just a bit behind.
We have to be rid of fossil fuels. We are junkies, and we are dying. We are killing not only ourselves, but so many of the beautiful and wondrous creatures with whom we share this spinning blue garden oasis. If a biosphere fails in a far corner of an obscure galaxy on a distant edge of what may be but one of countless Universes, will anybody hear? This is us. This is on us. No one will rescue us. There will be no redeeming such a catastrophic collective failure. Myths and fantasies will not save us.
This is 9/11. This is Katrina. Not in terms of immediate human impact, but in what it tells. This is larger than it seems. This is a statement about who we are and what we have become. This is a lesson about our own willful blindness, our callous disregard, our foolishness, our stumbling in mere semi-consciousness, as zombies through the cultural detritus that defines, numbs, and blinds us. If the overwhelming accumulation of science hasn’t been enough. If the changing migratory patterns of seabirds hasn’t been enough. The facts and our fellow creatures, screaming alarms that it takes considerably more effort to ignore than it would to heed.
We can’t drill ourselves out of this. We drilled ourselves into this. We can’t rely on miracles. Our reliance on miracles has been a symptom of the disease that has brought us to this precipice of global crisis. The decisions we now make, the decisions our elected leaders now make, will define our collective future as few decisions in history ever have. We may soon be beyond our decisions being able to make a difference.
George Carlin used to say that when you start experimenting with drugs, a door opens in your mind. But as you continue to experiment with drugs, that door closes again, you just don’t notice it. The burning of fossil fuels is our collective drug of choice. For a century, it opened doors. Those doors are closing. Will we catch them before they seal? Will we even hear them if the lock behind us, as the very air we breathe becomes a countdown of expiring existence?
This is us. This is now. Are we up to it?