Monday, May 3, 2010

Massive oil spill makes important hippie reveal his ignorance and speak ridiculous nonsense

Today there was a bold headline in the papers and it spread quickly to all the subsequent commentary orifices. It's a quote from Louie Miller from the Sierra Club. He says that this oil spill is America's Chernobyl. For anyone familiar with the history of Chernobyl, the worst nuclear accident in all time, it's clear that this is not an apt analogy. I think it's more detrimental to Miller's case to compare the oil spill to a disaster with an unknown huge number of human casualties and then go on to merely talk about the economic and environmental damage that the Gulf area now faces.

The real severity of this oil spill is trivialized by this unnecessary hyperbole as well as the Chernobyl disaster. Are people in Mississippi having problems with their flesh dripping off? Are their eyes boiling? Will their children have hideous deformities? Not even a little bit. However, it's still pretty bad. The fishing and tourist industries are on hold for the next several years. That goes for the industries that relied upon those industries too. The are also substantial health risks for clean up crews and people nearby may be susceptible to chemical-induced illnesses. There won't be shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico for a while. Parts of the coast smell like a gas station but worse (all according to Riki Ott, a marine toxicologist that spoke on Democracy Now today.)

I say Sierra Club guy should skip the part that gives skeptics/haters/palin something to pick apart and just focus on the most incredible part, which is reality of the situation. The financial and environmental consequences will be severe and offshore oil drilling, BP (who operated it), and Halliburton (who built it) are to blame. BP's executive's heads should be on spikes if there is any justice in the world. It's truly a disaster.

But, again, definitely not the wailing with your dead loved one in your arms kind of disaster.

I made this sloppy scan of an excerpt from the book Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster. I feel like after a few pages of this text no one would bandy about such ignorant comparisons. This seems like a special book. It's from the Dalkey Archive Press and it has an email address printed prominently on the cover, which makes it seems very academic somehow. I fished it out of Jail's pile of discards last-last time she left town.

It seems so American to think our disaster must be the worst thing that has ever happened. Never mind Bhopal, Chernobyl, Nagasaki—eleven people died—stock your bunker. The lack of perspective is annoying.

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