In Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, she brought to light the problems of environmental destruction. She was scorned by the scientific community, even though she was a marine biologist — no PhD, though. She methodically laid out the processes of pollution that were occurring, and her book essentially changed the way most Americans thought about using chemicals in a wholesale manner to deal with inconveniences. Enough attention accrued that the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was passed by Congress, almost unanimously, virtually the direct result of Carson’s work.
Yet, today we come back to issues that refute the spirit of Carson’s work. Fracking dumps dozens of chemicals into the earth, chemicals that destroy life beyond renewability. Some are harmful and even fatal to us. If we are too stupid or too rapacious to take the time to develop alternatives — for which extensive work has been and is being done — if we can’t wait for that or if the profit motive is just not great enough to bring safe technologies to the point of viability, then we and nature will pay the price. If nature goes, we go. The imagination and knowledge exists; the problem is not enough profit. If the motivation is the bottom line at the expense of life, that is insanity, stupidity. Oh, I know the arguments, and my counter will always be the same: if Nature is destroyed beyond renewability, then we should not benefit by any products, processes, or methods that destroy her.
Large corporations and their scientists are engaged in the same sort of practices today that Carson’s work exposed as deadly to the environment and humans over 50 years ago. How can this be? Convenience? Profit? Pseudo-humanitarian claims (Isn’t it pseudo- if they ultimately destroy humanity)? Carson said in Silent Spring, “How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?”
Practices like fracking today are the very sort of situations that Carson examined: dumping immense quantities of poisons into the environment, especially polluting underground waters, that cause currently unmeasured consequences.
We have options. We need to use them. Capitalism unchecked by Nature and the Heart is worthless, destructive shit. Framed within those parameters, though, no problem! Can we do it?
Here is the related poem that I published in two parts the last two posts. It’s all together now!
The Moon at Half-Mast
I offer a long poem today, written immediately after viewing the devastation of the deep well Horizon oil spill.
(June 22, 2010, Pensacola, Florida)
Nearly full moon viewed in azure blue sky
Before sun had set — all Moon’s features
Clearly visible, clearly weeping.
The flag, our flag, flown at half staff
(half mast on a ship — which is the position
From which I viewed the moon
As I looked up past a sailboat mast)
A symbol of sorrow, mourning,
Community recognition of someone passing
Someone of significance, importance --
More so than the common man,
For those who have served their country, our country.
The moon, our moon — not just America’s — grieved
This day as she stared in horror, mouth agape,
At her waters she so faithfully controls,
Waters of the Gulf of Mexico,
Waters of Southern coastal United States, our states,
Appropriately salty waters, now being raped,
The vicious, belching, bellowing, black gush of
Appropriately named crude oil
Spewing, violently forcing its destructive blobs and blankets
Of life-destroying gunk on this majestic milieu
Of marine flora and fauna.
She, Moon, could not respond with frenetic action,
Like that which she viewed with her silvery face
Of the buzzing clean-up engaged in by tiny man.
She could only do three things --
Two of which she performs rather flawlessly
And the third she awkwardly and silently conveys;
Faithfully, she uses her mass and orbit
To keep this globe, our globe,
On its crucial twenty-three-and-a-half degree axis,
And she then uses those same attributes, her attributes,
To steadily, faithfully, and effortlessly urge the sea tides
To ebb and flow.
Neither natural nor effortless, though,
Are the silent sobs with which she now convulses,
Expressing the destruction and loss which people, we people,
Have caused her to witness;
She now wails and laments:
Wails over the brown unsightly blobs
Bobbing over the face of the surging blue sea;
Laments the answering, oily sheen
To the flawless silver radiation she casts in beauty;
Wails for the tiny shelled creatures and wavy, curly sea grasses
Now gasping poisoned breaths;
Laments the powdery white shores
Now pock-marked brown and gummy;
Wails over the majestic pelicans, gulls, osprey, heron
And every sea bird that gently communes with her --
All those, threatened now with a greasy, flightless end
Or a perplexing, gnawing hunger;
Laments the little fish, the dolphins, the turtles,
The rays, the crustaceans — so many creatures --
Puzzled at the noxious, smothering net
Now enclosing and settling upon them, around them --
The cycle of life disrupted by this unnatural death.
And through the salty and now oily tears
Of her devastated domain she cries with the undulating sea surface,
“Not I, Not I, Not I, Not I
Did this, Did this, Did this, Did this!”
And the waves answer,
“Who did, Who did, Who did, Who did?”
And what do we, we humans, say?
Moon glows at half mast over the sea.