Eulogy for the Gulf of Mexico

I've started to write a few different posts in the past few weeks, but their different topics just don't seem to matter in the face of the death of the Gulf of Mexico, especially the affectionately named Redneck Riviera - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle - these areas are most assuredly dead. Field researchers from LSU who have been on the coast in the past few weeks say that these shorelines will be dead for decades, no question, and that we still don't know how much longer it will go on, and consequently how much farther it will extend.

There numerous excellent scienceblog posts that are closely reporting the daily progress of the murder (manslaughter is still murder, even though accidental), and reporting more of the environmental and public health aspects of what is happening - many are linked through Page 3.14's recent summary.

This post is more simply a note about the death of a good friend. The death of days spent playing in the clear waters of Gulf Shores or Ship Island. The death of shrimp, pelicans, gulls, porpoises, sea turtles, and all the other animals who, even if you clean them up, don't know not to swim back into it - not conceiving how what once was their home could now burn their skin, blind them, asphyxiate them, and slowly and painfully kill them. The death of much of south Louisiana - literally, figuratively, economically, culturally. The death of swimming in the bioluminescent waves on moonless nights off Dauphine Island. The death of watching schools of fish shimmer across the water off Orange Beach.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to commemorate the former life of the Gulf of Mexico. Its unexpected demise, still ongoing, reminds us to cherish every day of remaining nature, before greed and stupidity shit all over all of our favorite places, our favorite friends. Alas, if it were only that BP had biodegradably shat all over the Gulf, rather than killing it with millions of gallons of poison.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to watch how mankind can, in less than two months, destroy one of the largest bodies of water on Earth. We are gathered here today to hear Global Warming deniers continue to assert than humans cannot cause global scale climate changes. We are gathered here today to watch Louisiana legislators weeping on television, unable to finish what they were trying to say. We are gathered here today to watch corporate executives tell a room full of ex-fishermen and ex-shrimpers that BP is "sorry for the inconvenience".

But, we gather here today not to excoriate BP, but to bury the Gulf of Mexico. We gather here today not to condemn the oil industry to the deepest part of Hell, but to sit at the bedside of what once was blue water, blue sky, and salt tang. We gather here today because there is no place else to go. The stench of death draws us here. The loss of a friend draws us here. We come here today because we cannot let go, and we cannot stop watching in horror as, day by day, something we loved is poisoned (1), shot (2) , burned (3), stabbed (4), again (5), and again (6), and on (7), and on (8), and on (9), and on (10), and on (11), and on (12), and on (13), and on (14), and on (15), and on (16), and on (17), and on (18), and on (19), and on (20), and on (21), and on (22), and on (23), and on (24), and on (25), and on (26), and on (27), and on (28), and on (29), and on (30), and on (31), and on (32), and on (33), and on (34), and on (35), and on (36), and on (37), and on (38), and on (39), and on (40), and on (41), and on (42), and on (43), and on (44), and on (45)...

...till there is nothing left but a world full of our own shit.


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Richard Pryor probably addresses your issue best when he said, "I ain't dead yet, Motherfucker!"

The Gulf (and all of its inhabitants, including us,) is suffering through this unbelievable disaster. Many animals are dying, and there will be long term effects from this tragedy.

But, please, put your shovel away. Do not bury the Gulf of Mexico - not just yet. The Gulf might plan on living for a while. Let's at least wait, even if it pains you to watch, to see what happens.

By burntloafer (not verified) on 05 Jun 2010 #permalink

I don't think one can walk in the world with eyes open and not feel the emotions you expressed.
I don't think it's a good idea to lay it on 'mankind,' however. We've got enough history to know that 'changing mankind' is not going to happen. So we'll just keep on doing what we muddling do while the cliff's edge gets closer... right? Noting that evolution points out that changing mankind would take at least a sliver of geologic time... so why ignore that evidence and piss away the world as it seems we must... 'Cause we're so different.
Our culture tells us so. Mankind is exempt from the rule, for example, that if you keep adding more and more food to a population the population is going to grow.

I think that is a good news clue.
We are simply trapped in a harmful culture, as humans.
And we have evidence that cultures can change.

Thanks for the eulogy.

By netjaeger (not verified) on 05 Jun 2010 #permalink

Thank you Professor LiCata. It was hard to read your eulogy of the Gulf since I am a native of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. In this case the truth does not set me free, but instead saddens and weighs my spirit down. But none the less, the truth has to be told so that this catastrophy never happens again.

Shortly before this travesty occured, my family in Bay St. Louis had told me that they believed it would be yet another 10 years for the coast to rebuild from the devistation of Katrina. Besides tourism, the fishing industry was basically the only industry remaining. What happens now......

By Vallon Maraan (not verified) on 05 Jun 2010 #permalink

The Gulf isn't dead, and it's not dying. A worse spill than this one occurred in 1979, and only did moderate damage to the ecosystems. The Gulf recovered nicely.

Go back to studying your prions, Vince.

Thank you for your comments. I'd like to be as optimistic as burntloafer, but Vallon seems more realistic. There was a funeral procession for the Gulf of Mexico in New Orleans on Friday that I just found out about. It's interesting that what enduser says is almost exactly what BP CEO Hayward was recently quoted as saying: perhaps he/she and Mr. Hayward will be vacationing together in Biloxi later this summer.

The widespread inability to perceive harm seems to me one of the main enablers of our culture's reckless habits.

Thanks for demonstrating mature engagement with our human-influenced reality.

Gulf ain't dead yet; but the gusher(s) still gushin brown death.
And with heavy metals for long-lasting effects.

Get ROV's down there to run scans and collect samples over at
least 100 square miles of seabed to look for more sources of death.
They will likely find a few more.

This is a genuine war now. Get BP managers out; order stop-loss
for key staff, and let the CG and Honore cooperate with the subcontractors,
scientists, and engineers (domestic and foreign) who really know what to
do or try. Prepare for a net 2 or 3-sigma worst case.
When more is known, that might be 3-sigma.

Shut down OCS wells until their ISO, API, CYOA, XYZ procedures
and validated documents are cleared by independent panels of honest
experts not working for the MMS. This is no time for half measures.
When in doubt, inspect, interrogate under oath, and kick butt.
Hope is for the lazy.

I'm tired of dragging links to my BP SPILL directory.
(don't have skull/crossbones icon; using Earth icon for now)
And I'm tired of thinking about solutions based on bad information.

By jim bandlow (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

I very much appreciate your putting in such eloquent form the heartbreak and loss and grief I have been feeling but not knowing how to express. Every word you wrote is absolute truth.