Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History: Where's the outrage??

Imagine if you and your family and friends suddenly found that everything around you was turning dark and suffocating. Imagine being unable to escape this horror no matter which way you turned. Imagine your children dying before your eyes and you, dying also, unable to help. Welcome to the Gulf of Mexico and the worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history. This is the reality for countless lifeforms.

Obviously, BP oil is to blame for this horrific crisis of epic proportions, but there is plenty of blame to go around for what is happening. Corporate and government response to the oil well disaster has been at best, erratic. Cover-ups, obfuscation and media suppression have added insult to injury. But there is another aspect to The Summer They Destroyed the Gulf that is, at the very least, troubling: where are the activists?

Soon after the BP Deepwater Horizon was destroyed and eleven workers perished, the enormity of the blow-out became apparent. The massive environmental destruction and its effect on fishing and tourism started to manifest fear and outrage in Louisiana, which soon spread elsewhere. Of course there were local reactions and eventually there were some nationally coordinated regional events marking the catastrophe such as "Hands across the sands" and a few small protests in Washington; all of which seemed to have little or no effect. As we speak, the story begins to slip from the headline news after the flow of oil is finally stopped, at least for the time being. Congress and the White House turn to other issues. Who will keep the pressure on, if not grassroots activists? Who will keep the pressure on, if not grassroots activists?

It pains this observer that well-funded, heavily resourced national environmental groups like Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network or, to name a few, have not poured all their efforts into confronting the worst environmental disaster in our history. Groups like Greenpeace have personnel, boats, vehicles, even blimps they could throw into the fray. Where are the mass marches and rallies? Where's the direct action? While relatively small efforts on Facebook or among Rising Tide activists are hopeful, no one seems to have the resources and clout that Big Green carries. Beyond that: where's Earth First!? That kick-ass movement doesn't have the toys Big Green enjoys, but they do have the moxie and the spirit. Why haven't they locked down in BP headquarters? Pied Tony Hayward in the face? What became of "No compromise in defense of Mother Earth"?

I'm willing to bet there are tens of thousands of activists like myself out there waiting for the right action to surface or trying to create the momentum for such actions. Our voices are not that loud in the info-glut of 2010. It's time for Big Green to wake up and throw the switch. It's time for direct action activists to make their moves. Did I mention it's the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history? If not now, when?

- d.o.

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