As I woke up to the radio this morning I heard the first news item about the British Petroleum oil spill that I did not need to hear again to understand. The cap on the oil well is secure but something – they aren’t sure what – is coming up through the ocean floor nearby. It might be pressure building up as a result of the cap, but then again it might not; such seepages can occur naturally. Thus, BP is reluctant top loosen the cap because that will result in more fines for them, but apparently they can’t be held legally responsible for the rupture in the ocean floor.
Despite the 24/7 spill cam documenting the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and the valiant efforts of Anderson Cooper, it’s still difficult for me to get a handle on both the science and magnitude of the spill and how it came to this. As I type at my computer in my air-conditioned home atop a two car garage I know that I am complicit in the energy dependence that drives companies like BP to do something that is inherently dangerous to the global ecosystem. I’ve pored over the graphics illustrating how deep water drilling works, how relief wells will help, how natural gas and oil are mined but not necessarily collected at the same time and how bacteria that feast on the oil are depriving the rest of the ocean of the oxygen they need to survive. The only news item I won’t read is Kevin Coster’s solution to some or all of this – you won’t be getting a hyper link to that one from me.
At some point someone suggested that the President or Secretary of Energy provide the public with strategies for responding to the crisis – and in ways more practical than planning a vacation to the Gulf. If people can start carrying reusable bags to the grocery store like more people are doing nowadays the possibilities really are endless, days and in these days of PowerPoint I am really shicked that no one has issued a bulleted list of things people can do to cut energy dependence – of if they have why they haven’t shown up on milk cartons and paper bags.
Speaking of which, my own personal ray of hope has been the flourishing of the farmer’s markets near our house. When we moved here 17 years ago there were three tiny, tired farm stands that we counted on for corn, strawberries, blueberries, zucchini, tomatoes and potatoes each year. Now, we have a Friday farmer’s market near the center of town and those three old farm stands – all within sight of one another – have each constructed new buildings and are offering local milk, eggs, meat, bread and cheese. This year, for the first time, it’s possible to skip the supermarket entirely for weeks at a time. We are saving gas on trips to Costco and we are helping the local economy as we develop a taste for grilled vegetables. It is the Michael Pollanization of America, and it’s great.
Still, my thoughts keep drifting to the basket under my kitchen sink. For years I have been slowly replacing the Dow chemicals under it with more environmentally friendly cleaners – more white vinegar and less unpronounceable stuff. But my favorite bottle in the basket is Goo Gone. It’s a miraculous citrus-based grease and adhesive remover and it makes all of my worst petroleum-based household problems go away and smell lovely. I have to admit that I don’t know that all of it products are all natural. But I harbor fantasies of giant tankers of Goo Gone dispatched to the Gulf of Mexico where the waters and sands will be restored to an orange-scented bliss. And if that was Kevin Costner’s idea, I don’t want to know about it.
Photos: Vineyard Sound, July 2009; Spring Brook Farm, July 2009; Summer Produce, July 2009.