Oil disaster as metaphor 

Some are calling it a “river of oil” now, instead of an oil spill. “Spill” makes it sound like the oil rig exploded, then “spilled” some oil, which is now creeping toward the coast.

Instead, the broken rig is pouring 210,000 gallons of oil into the sea each day, and might continue, according to estimates, for two months or more.

I could weep, I could scream, I could wax holy as I did not use petroleum products to get to work today. Except for all I know the asphalt I rode my bicycle on — as well as parts of the bicycle itself (and my helmet), were made of petroleum.

Or the keyboard I type on.

But I don’t want to go there. I want to see this event as larger, as a metaphor.

Think of it this way.

We humans are the initial explosion.

Almost seven billion of us emitting carbons and methane and consuming material goods (or maybe I mean material bads), and despite our knowledge of the erosive impact on the environment, we just keep using fossil fuels.

That’s the river of oil part.

We can see it coming, creeping toward shore, slouching toward an unfathomable catastrophe, in slo-motion horror.

My metaphor is not just about global warming, in case any “skeptics” are still reading this piece. It’s the collapse of ecosystems everywhere, whether through drought and desertification (Australia, Africa, etc.),or the 450 dead zones in the oceans or the numerous and massive garbage islands floating the seas.

Then there are the flame retardants and PCBS and pharmaceuticals and perchlorates and on and on that are embedded in life forms all over the planet, from simple organisms to the most complex (like us). Their individual effects are not fully understood, let alone the synergy of their impact on life.

Invasive species are sweeping across entire ecosystems, the asian carp, the quagga mussel, the emerald ash borer, the list goes on and on, but humans are the most invasive of all.

Layer that into the metaphor.

This invasive species, humans, have encroached the entire planet, through development and through the byproducts of this development.

Oil rig explodes: us.

Emissions and trash spreads: our byproducts.

Blame game played: But we are all consumer and emitters!

Ecosystems wounded then killed: Our planet, as a place for human habitation, all but wiped out.

It’s all unfolding, folks, right before our eyes. Don’t turn away.

Watch it.

Behold.

It is our future.

Sorry. I mean our near future.

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Jim Poyser

Jim Poyser

Bio:
Jim Poyser is Executive Director of Earth Charter Indiana, a statewide organization that was one of over two dozen nonprofit partners in Greening the Statehouse. A former managing editor of NUVO, he won HEC’s Environmentalist of the Year Award in 2013.

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