(Original article at Huffington Post)
Continually in the backrooms of the power centers of the nations on this planet are information hubs stocked with people whose job it is to be "star gazers". These "star gazers" are not astrologers as such; rather, they have their own more sophisticated methods of doing the same thing, more or less, which is they are in the business of predictions. Their job is to anticipate trends and movements in the marketplace, in other governments, in changing weather patterns and how that might effect crop cycles, in potential mega corporate mergers, in all forms of the brokerage of power. Financial and political power centers love this futuristic data. It converts to potential hedge fund activity, potential political moves, and potential mergers - in short, the management of potential power in all its expressions.
I recall reading a book way back when entitled, "A Global Report Until the Year 2000", that was initiated by then President Jimmy Carter, which was filled with exactly this type of data -- predictions and anticipations of potential major changes in the theater of operations of Planet Earth. One of the conclusions that struck me in this book that I read decades ago related to the potential causes that might lead to global conflict: water rights. For all the many issues that faced the world then, and there were many, still, by comparison, terrorism had yet to come into its own and world markets had yet to become as fragile as my mother's crystal. Nonetheless, one of the central themes of this report was that by the end of the 20th Century, the most likely cause of a global conflict would be over a lack of fresh water -- an impending ecological disaster.
As I look over the past decade of America's history, without a doubt four of the most formative events that the "star gazers" did not see coming, no matter how sophisticated their mathematical formulas and calculations of probabilities and possibilities, were: 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the subprime mortgage disaster, and now the oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Of these four, two are environmental, which is to say, enterprises of Mother Nature. Obviously, the Gulf oil leak is the result of the carelessness of human technology brought about by deregulated safety procedures, just as the devastation brought about by Katrina was far greater than it had to be because of the carelessness of not repairing levees that should have been updated. But the lack of preparedness for a major catastrophe is itself a statement of how British Petroleum and other oil companies view environmental disasters: it's not the environment that is at risk but the loss of oil dollars. The environment for hardcore oil profiteers is just a place from which to "drill, baby, drill." It's not an alive ecosystem of which they, also, are an integral part.
Had BP really valued and respected the environment, it would have prepared far more safe guards on its oil platform, and at the very least, disaster plans that parallel every action they undertake in drilling. Had the government cared about the environment, regulations demanding better safety procedures would have been in place. One could say, perhaps, that this is a type of cooperative disaster - one that was initiated by the carelessness of business and government but it's Mother Nature that is revealing to everyone what the cost to everyone and everything is when her eco-system is so blatantly treated with disrespect.
But this disaster does not just reveal how BP interacts with nature. I suspect that BP is no different than any other oil company. They are, after all, in the business of sucking the oil out of the earth at any cost -- and now cost us all it will. Anticipating the actual cost of this disaster is virtually impossible because there is no end in sight to this leak. And now the brain trusts that got us into this disaster have even suggested the use of nuclear weapons to get us out - nuke the leak. Right. Hmm. Seems to me that would be the same as a physician offering to shoot the cancer growing in a patient because the chemo wasn't working as planned. Brilliant, BP...
Hurricane season has yet to begin and who knows how many hurricanes the Gulf will have, how intense they will be, and how far the winds and rain will distribute the toxic oil that now covers the once gorgeous waters of the inland areas around the Gulf. If we follow this latest hair brained plan, not only will we have to anticipate oil covering miles and miles of inland territory; now we will also have to worry about water contaminated with nuclear waste. This is a genius solution in the making. Even if they tossed out this suggestion by now, the fact that it would even be placed on the table for consideration is a measure of their detachment from "ecological reality", not to mention their responsibilities as a company that drills for oil in gulf waters.
Then there's the loss of sea life which is yet another incalculable figure. And of course, we have the drop in value to coastal property and a dramatic drop in the coastal vacation industry. And I haven't even mentioned the fishing industry - do I even have to? The Gulf is headed toward becoming a mortuary. And finally, we can only wait to see how sick the people will become who are now forced to breath the fumes from all of this unrefined oil, with all its toxins and gas.
It was only a matter of time before the Republican's began to call this "Obama's Katrina". That's not surprising. While Obama is hardly responsible for the loose regulations that allowed for the possibility of accidents on oil rigs, he is the President in the hot seat. It's now up to him to respond to this situation both in terms of demanding the most out of BP and future legislation that insures such a disaster can never happen again. He is also no doubt aware that Katrina was indeed a turning point for Bush in that respect for his administration -- what little there was left to respect by the time Katrina hit -- took a sharp nose dive, never to repair itself.
Further, while the nation refused to evaluate Bush's incompetence as a war leader, his inability to lead when it came to a natural disaster crisis on the home front was just too obvious. Staring at the ruins of New Orleans from his safe, clean little airplane, like a little boy on a carnival ride, revealed to all Americans that this former President should never have been allowed near the White House except as a tourist. While he knew how to start a crisis, he had no idea how to assist in a crisis unless he could bomb it, threaten it, or misspell it.
In the end, the legacy of George Bush was greatly influence by the disasters of war and the power of Mother Nature. Even Obama must realize that like the presidency of George Bush, this crisis has the potential of becoming a political game changer for him if a successful outcome is too long in coming or worse, nowhere to be found. It's just that one extra disaster added to a list of disasters breaking the back of America that has what it takes to reshape the destiny of this president, and thus this nation.
If any of those hired "star gazers" had any real vision at this point, they would get the picture that Mother Nature has what it takes to swing an election, to influence politics, to do great damage to the economy, and to call the shots on what a country does next in terms of its own survival. Mother Nature is not some passive hunk of earth to be dynamited for resources and left to repair itself for the next round. The Katrina disaster revealed that Mother Earth has enough clout to influence a national election and for that reason alone, even the most ecologically heathen of politicians who cannot imagine that global warming is anything but hype should yield to the fear of losing votes. Let's face it: Mother Nature has politically come of age.
We are only at the beginning of this Gulf oil crisis -- just the beginning. If the idiots who suggested that the underwater leak be nuked in order to seal it actually get their way, the crisis will catapult to a mega-disaster and who knows how long it will take to recover from a nuked oil spill. It is all too apparent that the time has come for environmentalists to be recognized as power brokers on this planet, spokespeople for the force and voice of nature. The days of treating environmentalists as if they were "liberals" or supporters of Al Gore or people who lacked the scientific wherewithal to know what they are talking about is over. That hype is pure greed talking. A well-educated environmental scientist is exactly that - a scientist.
Environmentalists (not on the pay roll of any oil company or any special interests groups) need to sit at Global Summits and at meetings at which major environmental policies are formed that affect the quality of life locally, nationally, and globally. The argument of financial impracticability no longer stands as valid given the Gulf oil crisis. Nothing is more financially impracticable than a disaster that could have and in fact, should have, been prevented. The argument that environmentalists are imagining the potential harm of off shore drilling or, say, global warming -- that, too, is off that table. The offshore drilling catastrophe has now happened, suggesting that the warnings of environmentalists are not laden with emotional hysteria. They are the result of research and a bit of wisdom. With any luck, we might be able to prevent a global warming catastrophe.
And if any politicians can't handle warming up to Mother Nature as a type of "living" force worth protecting, then they should simply tell themselves that becoming an environmentalist is likely to improve their chances of getting re-elected these days. That should make even the most hard-core anti-environmentalist among them a treehugger.