04 June 2010

The clowns are everywhere

(No writing prompt today. Today, I'm just angry.)

Outside my office hung a huge photograph--easily 2 ft. by 3 ft.--of an oil-covered sea otter.

Several of my colleagues at the science and engineering firm had worked on the Exxon Valdez clean up. They gave talks about it. The photos were among the many that displayed the company's capabilities for investigating catastrophes.

I couldn't bring myself to ask RW, whose photo it was, if the otter was dead or alive. I was pretty sure, just looking at it, what the answer was.

I averted my eyes every time I passed it. It wasn't the only photo I couldn't look at.

Working on investigations of disasters has in no way inured me to the horror of disasters. I've learned some coping skills, but sometimes those fail. I get very worked up when people won't evacuate potential landslide areas or smugly talk about riding out hurricanes in their homes. I know what landslides do to the human body. Mother Nature grinds your bones to make her bread. I've seen the aftermaths of hurricanes. To baldly ignore a threat to your life...I don't understand it.

But this mess in the Gulf. I am mystified.

British Petroleum knew there were problems with the Deepwater Horizon before the rig exploded. The company used a well casing on the rig that violated its own safety and design standards. Why would BP play roulette with people's lives--its own employees' lives--not to mention the reputation of the company? I don't bother to mention the Gulf ecology because we all know that never mattered to BP.

I hear that BP CEO Tony Hayward wants his life back. Well, I've no doubt that the families of those who died on the Deepwater Horizon would like their lives back, too. And I'm sure all those employed by the fishing industry in the Gulf who are going to be out jobs would like their lives back. And I'd hazard a guess that all those who are going to be directly affected by the toxic by-products of the oil spill may well want their lives back.

And the dead birds and animals? Personally, I would like their lives back.

Meanwhile, BP acknowledges they knew they couldn't handle a problem like this, and continues to fiddle around, continues to fail at stopping the flow of oil, six weeks later. Not that I'm exactly surprised given what we now know about this whole fiasco. But what does the U.S. government do? Talk.

It's what they do best.

I know that what I'm doing here is rehashing what all of us probably already know. I'm not even putting a new spin on it. I tend to avoid this type of subject matter but this has just gone so far beyond the ridiculous. Tragic and ridiculous.

I suppose that given all that's gone before, it was inevitable that the group running the emergency response to the calamity would solicit suggestions from the general public about how to fix it. You can call them or visit the Deepwater Horizon Response website. I just wonder how many of the 20,000 suggestions already submitted have been of the anatomically impossible variety.

Go listen to some good music: "Clowns of Death" from the album Farewell--Live from the Universal Amphitheater by Oingo Boingo.

No comments: