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BP's loans from our children
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-06-17 08:01:22
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How much you charge an environmental destruction that will take years, probably decades to recover? The amount of life that is going to suffer for the next decades due to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is unaccountable doesn’t matter what the US and BP experts say and the changes in human life around the golf inevitable we can see it or not – we often forget that a lot of the local financial and in extent social local life depends on fishing. For the local social structure will have the same effect as if all tropical forests would vanished in Brazil and Argentina. Dramatic is one way to put it.

BP has gigantic responsibilities and the local governments including the US government are not exactly innocent. After all somebody gave them the licence to do what they do and somebody was oblige to follow the works and security procedures. I’m not blaming Barack Obama and his administration, I find his anger sincere and I hope what happened there will motivate him and his administration to do something at last. But there is something much deeper here we are missing.

BP was just the ‘unlucky’ one that has to deal with this catastrophe but I’m afraid that they will pay just because they were caught. And that is a fact that has not only to do with the oil industry but with all the sectors of the global commercial life. And this is not a new reality; it has always been like that. Companies like oil companies or banks are not exactly humanitarian institutes; they are there for the profit and the bigger the profit the bigger the risk they took. But nowadays they just don’t care. They have become totally cynic. You just need to see the emails of the BP directors that have been publicized the last weeks to understand what I mean. Their agony has nothing to do with the damage they’ve done, neither with the penalties they might pay – it is obviously all well calculated and insured with some kind of private insurance – their problem is with the price of their shares and their position in the New York or London Stock Exchange. Already Fitch has downgraded BP’s credit and that has made banks go into a series orgasms.

There were even companies – and not only oil companies – that had a party with the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. First of all BP’s competition that saw a competitor going out of the bet for the Alaska drilling; this is not a forgotten case and the interests in the area are gigantic. Then there were the banks, the banks that keep founding BP, the banks that will be called to help and the banks that are already involved and BP is not the company that can easily declare bankruptcy, the British government is there to help them stand up. And then there are insurance companies, materials and the list is endless, with the word profit concluding everything.

Actually it is Barack Obama who put it perfectly while making a reference to the Minerals Management Service and its philosophy: “Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility - a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favours, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.”

Oddly BP answered almost immediately to president Obama’s speech in a statement that “it shared Mr Obama's goal of cleaning up the oil and helping the people affected by the spill.” How odd, they are still talking about the people affected by the spill ignoring the fact that it is a whole globe affected by their careless and irresponsible drilling for profit. And again, is not just BP, it is all of them; it is a chain of companies, industries and banks that drill life in this planet just to keep their share-holders happy. The rest of us, well as an old Native American saying go, “Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents; it was loaned to you by your children.”

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Emanuel Paparella2010-06-17 10:17:44
Indeed, how can one resist the invitation to more comments. As wise and insightful as the comment by the Native American is, there is another comment to be added, and it is that of the anthropologist Theilard de Chardin in his poem “Building the Earth.” For the issue goes beyond parents and grandchildren and their inheritance; it goes back to the act of creation when God commanded man not merely to dwell on the earth and enjoy it, but to name the animals and the plants of the earth, the implication is clear: only a rational consciousness can be aware of life and wonder at it and name it; that in turn implies that he does not own life, cannot play god with it (as in capital pusnishment and abortion and useless wars), but he/she is responsible for its nurturing and its stewardship. Not ownership but stewardship. Hence Man is responsible from the beginning for the “Building of the Earth” by which de Chardin does not mean luxury condominiums but the ecological preservation and betterment of the earth as a whole. Unfortunately what is going on now is the destruction of the earth which is equivalent to the suicide of the human species. Suicide in turn is a sign of despair. What is urgently needed is a conspiracy of hope. Some had hoped to find it in a politician such as President Obama. They have been disappointed, and well they should. The search is a deeper search, it is the search for the salvation of one’s soul which goes together with the salvation of the whole earth. However, rather than beginning with grandiose political ideologies, it ought to begin more modestly with one’s own immediate community, be it only one’s own immediate family. I think the Native American would agree with de Chardin.

Emanuel Paparella2010-06-17 10:25:06
P.S.Here is an excerpt from de Chardin's "Building the Earth" which may motivate further reading:

"The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth."
Teilhard de Chardin passed away a full ten years before James Lovelock ever proposed the "Gaia Hypothesis" which suggests that the Earth is actually a living being, a collosal biological super-system. Yet Chardin's writings clearly reflect the sense of the Earth as having its own autonomous personality, and being the prime center and director of our future -- a strange attractor, if you will -- that will be the guiding force for the synthesis of humankind.

"The phrase 'Sense of the Earth' should be understood to mean the passionate concern for our common destiny which draws the thinking part of life ever further onward. The only truly natural and real human unity is the spirit of the Earth. . . .The sense of Earth is the irresistable pressure which will come at the right moment to unite them (humankind) in a common passion.

"We have reached a crossroads in human evolution where the only road which leads forward is towards a common passion. . . To continue to place our hopes in a social order achieved by external violence would simply amount to our giving up all hope of carrying the Spirit of the Earth to its limits."

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