Elegy for the Gulf

June 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm (By Amba)

This is where the mysteries of Nature unlocked for me. Even later — in the Adirondacks, in the Cascades, on the Pacific — I never felt Nature to speak more plainly. Different rhythms — diurnal, tidal, seasonal — were interwoven. You could sense, even as a kid, how delicate the whole balance was.

Now, it’s also where the limits of our care and the boundlessness of our appetites are most plainly apparent. For me, the spreading plume of oil is, to this decade, what the smouldering and collapsing towers were to the last decade: the next installment, the graven image, of our penchant for destruction of entire human and natural systems.

~ David Gottlieb


  1. Icepick said,

    Delicate only if you insist on things not changing. The system survived the Permian extinction event and the CT extinction event. We’re pikers by comparison. Which is not to say the Gulf marshlands aren’t well and truly fucked. But then the Gulf has been well and truly fucked fro some time now, just no one likes to think about the dead zones and what they mean. Forget Big Oil & government, Big Ag & government have done more damage.

    Not that I’m unduly cranky. I am exactly the right amount of cranky.

  2. amba12 said,

    The system “survived”? The Gulf of Mexico didn’t even exist then. No doubt in some small way those catastrophes helped to create the beauties we enjoy today, and the us who enjoy them.

    Of course there is constant change, and our catastrophes are piddling compared with those caused by massive volcanism, asteroid strikes, and the like. Nonetheless, on our own scale, we can’t help being attached to the way we have known things to be — when it was good — for us — and particularly mortified when it’s our own species that has fouled them up.

    It’s been slower building, but the oil spill to me is forming a triad with JFK’s assassination and 9/11, for the sense of unnecessary, irrevocable loss — of a state of things that can’t be brought back, at least not in my lifetime. (I know that’s myopic. Myopia R us.) Seems “unnecessary,” avoidable, when it’s human doing, but maybe not. It’s depressing to realize that humans with our passions are merely a force of nature. We seem to have no more control over ourselves than over hurricanes or volcanoes.

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