Saturday, May 1, 2010

The One Duck Project

Thanks to a generous donation I am ready to get on my horse. I thought I was going north to Labrador but if you haven't heard the greatest man-made disaster in history has just occurred in the Gulf Of Mexico. It's the wetlands and estuaries equivalent of a full scale nuclear war. Remember that term "First Strike Initiative"? It was developed into Strategic Defense Initiative otherwise known as Star Wars. Boy, the military got their golden goose with Reagan, an actor too dumb to say no. Listen, this is a guy who got shot by Lee Marvin in The Killers, and he's agreeing to put laser operated defense against space. Uh, are you serious? That's like putting me in charge of the first cavalry division in Iraq. "Ok, today we're going to kill the enemy...with pot brownies." It's laughable but it's part of American history. If there had been a military coup in 1980 we wouldn't have ended up with a worse person in charge. A teenage crack addict couldn't have been talked into contributing to Star Wars...but Reagan was enthusiastic about it. (I say he was dumb but he just understood good business.)

Anyway, the oil spill is like a preemptive attack on egrets and waterfowl in the bayou of Mississippi and Louisiana and Texas and Florida and Colombia and Venezuela and Georgia and Mexico and Honduras and Jamaica and Trinidad and Cuba. I don't have any live news available to me but the bit of research I just did on it and my instincts and knowledge of that area tell me this is going to be much worse than the Exxon Valdez spill. First of all, the Valdez hit the coast. It crashed just a few miles from shore on a reef so the spill was isolated. Of course it was isolated in some of the most isolated coastline in North America so that made the response hard, but it didn't have to deal with the ocean currents of the Gulf of Mexico like this latest nightmare.

I could be wrong but I think I worked for BP and serviced that oil platform back in 1993. I know I shipped out of Port Fourchon like every other dirty deckhand who worked off shore. The name of the platform, "Deepwater Horizon" sounds familiar. Maybe we just talked about it as legendary because it was gigantic. You could see those platforms for miles when the sky was clear at night, the blow off gas burning in the air like Mad Max or Waterworld, glowing silently in the distance as we crawled past under Orion's Belt, the captain smoking madly and scanning the radar while I daydreamed and ate chips. Most of the ones I worked with had pipe style support legs. This is Deepwater Horizon and it looks like a Transformer Robot. (I just read that it was built in 2001 so I definitely didn't do anything related to this former oil exploration platform)


What's my point? Oh, that I'd like to go save a duck or an egret. Relocate the duck to another marsh in California or Texas. It's hard to guess where is safe but anywhere is safer than the coast of Louisiana. There's a page where you can read more and donate to the effort. Or you can just donate here.

Donations for The One Duck Project:

Looking at the satellite picture it's hard to believe there is a big threat. It's a tiny spill compared to the ocean. But looking at it from the egret's perspective it's very serious.
Secondly, I'd like to document the clean up efforts. There are pictures of the Exxon Valdez spill and folks are on the beaches in suits hosing the rocks. Well, my memory of the coast of Louisiana is that there are no beaches and no rocks. One second you are in the Gulf and the next you spot a tiny river going upstream and you aim for that opening in the marsh and the grass meets the ocean and you can look down and see the fresh water pouring out into the salt water and that's when you know you're in the river. There is no place to stand, no rocks, no sand, no beach, no land. I guess it will be like changing your oil on your lawn (a lawn that's four feet high) and accidentally spilling 5 quarts of oil and then trying to clean it up. Except the oil in this case is 170 miles wide and 10+ million gallons of unrefined oil and the lawn is 3000 miles long. Imagine oil covering this stretch of land near Fort Stark. Imagine the New Castle Harbor closing for forty years and every form of life dying there.

It's crises like this that historically generate the best ideas so there's bound to be some good that comes of it. Because it is so difficult to contain an oil spill and because my instincts tell me the dolphins and egrets of the Gulf unanimously oppose oil exploration I'd say we need to reduce our use of oil. But mankind seems to still be operating under a wartime mentality.

Like, are we being attacked by Martians and I don't know about it? Seriously. Please tell me if we are because I'd totally understand oil exploration if it were done in the name of protecting our planet from an invasion of gigantic flesh eating bugs from outer space. I mean, I'm not unreasonable. There is a justification for oil exploration...but making sure Lady Gaga gets to her next performance IS NOT A GOOD ENOUGH JUSTIFICATION. Shipping crappy petroleum-based toys from China to New York IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH JUSTIFICATION.
Please tell me there is a secret war against aliens that would demand we risk and destroy our environment to win...and that we aren't destroying our habitat SO WE CAN HAVE HAPPY MEAL TOYS AND NASCAR. Please tell me that's not the best reason we can come up with. PLEASE! Because I'll speak for the egret and say that doesn't cut it. If you are going to spill 10 million gallons of oil on my home then you better have a good fucking reason to be drilling into the earth. No, Hannah Montana video games DO NOT QUALIFY AS A GOOD REASON.

I keep thinking that it's like when you look at an ant swarm on your kitchen floor and you have no choice but to kill the ants and as soon as you kill a few with a foot or a thumb then the entire swarm instantly goes berserk. And even if you stop killing they will still be in high gear for hours. When I watched WWII by Ken Burns I got the sense that this was the biggest mobilization of people in history. It was the biggest war with the most deadly weapons ever used and in order to win it ALL Americans had to contribute. It was evenly matched and the victor would be the one who prepared better, who committed more resources to the cause, who was more courageous. That turned out to be America and England and Russia. The losers were Germany and Japan and Italy, but it wasn't for lack of trying. I feel like since 1945 Americans have been in a war time mentality...because it worked so well or maybe we are forever insecure. It also unified us and justified drilling for oil and building roads and houses and ships and guns and having babies. It was justified because our enemy was one or two strategic victories away from controlling all of Europe and Asia and Africa. But that was 1945 and the growth, this manic uncontrolled growth has not the ant swarm after the first thumb of death. That's why I wonder if an alien isn't attacking us because that's how we're acting, like we're under attack and will stop at nothing to defend ourselves and utilize every imaginable resource to improve our defense. I guess you could say we are at war with every nation on the planet, we want to control all the resources because that will secure our NASCAR and HD televisions and computer networks. The egret is not really considered just like the desert shrew wasn't considered when they were testing the H-Bomb in Nevada. It's collateral damage...which is another way of saying a few desert shrews died so all desert shrews didn't become Nazis. You get my point. It's a leading question to ask why we are so careless with the egret's habitat. It's not collateral damage in any war. We're just careless and selfish and violent, neurotic and blindly consuming. It's the golden era of waste to dump 10 million gallons of oil on the last wetlands in America.

I was at Fort Constitution the other day and learned a little history. First of all, when it says "Keep Out! Military Facility! Unauthorized Personnel Prohibited" that means me.
Second of all, the fort was once Fort William and Mary, a British fort and the Winter before April 1775, when the minutemen of Lexington and Concord fought the Brits at the North Bridge, a general named John Sullivan (we named the big bridge after him) and a gang of insurgents went over to Fort William and Mary and jacked up the five surprised British troops there and took all the gun powder and such before reinforcements could come. It was the first recorded victory of the soon to be independent nation over the occupying home soldiers. The battle of Concord was the first bloodshed "The shot heard round the world." No one got shot in the battle of Fort William and Mary so it kind of slipped into the foot notes of history. I was thinking that we are a violent animal but that makes our acts of kindness so special.
Portsmouth Lighthouse and the walls of Fort Constitution.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.