Environmentalists Seize a Chance to Oppose Human Production

According to an NYT story , “BP officials said on Sunday that about 15,000 barrels of oil from the gulf spill was collected by its containment cap on Saturday, bringing the total since the device was installed to more than 119,000 barrels, or about 5 million gallons.”

But the meaning our culture takes away from Deepwater Horizon spill will not be one of human triumph over adversity. Regardless of what engineering triumphs are performed, the message is going to be one of human impotence and need to reject industrialism.

Kate Galbraith of the NYT reports that “for environmentalists, the [disaster] may also bring opportunity. ‘As Rahm Emanuel says, a disaster is a terrible thing to waste,’ said Zygmunt J.B. Plater, a law professor at Boston College, paraphrasing a 2008 comment by the White House chief of staff about the then-burgeoing economic crisis. Environmentalists, for their part, are hoping that the country will pay more attention to green issues after the devastation in the guld.”

Admittedly, if a group of environmentalists had been shouting that deep-water oil drilling in Gulf might result in an explosion and a spill that could not be quickly stopped, this would be their moment to say: “I told you so.” Interestingly, though, this 2008 story on the debate over drilling, published in USA Today, did not indicate opposition on that basis. To remain believable, apparently, environmentalists had had to shift to other grounds, such as “seismic air guins” that can harm sea mammals.

In any case, to judge by Galbraith’s report, many environmentalists now criticizing offshore drilling were not even focused on the issue and are simply seizing upon it as they would seize upon almost any human incursion into the non-human world: “Luke Metzger, the director of Environment Texas, said that his group’s canvassers had switched their fund-raising and petitions pitch from aiding a remote mountain range to urging an end to new offshore drilling.” Galbraith is evidently referring to the Metzger group’s effort to “save the Christmas Mountains” (map here ) from being sold to a private individual. Since “deed restrictions on the land . . . prevent commercial, industrial, or agricultural activities, or subdivision of the land, or the construction of roads or power lines,” their main concern seems to be whether the 10,000 acres should become a “wilderness destination” for the public or a "hunting preserve.” Shrimpers should take note: the environmentalists may side with you against the oil companies today, but tomorrow you will be the bad guys who are “destroying the ecosystem.”

As for Luke Metzger, who graduated from the University of Southern California in 1998: Those inclined to follow his interpretation of the Gulf spill should read this interesting paper , in which he explains that it was psychedelic drugs which taught him the meaning of life: “I saw a magical essence in transcending the world around us to join a higher being--or God if you will. . . . a God made up of us all: a brotherhood of mankind, loving and caring for one another. . . . Those who trip together decide they want to live together and get away from the life they discovered was rather pointless. They see the futility and meaninglessness in sitting behind a desk all day so as to buy a nondescript home in a suburban wasteland…”

It isn’t technological disasters that such environmentalists hate. On the contrary, they love them, because they seem to vindicate their hatred of technology itself.


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