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6/1/10

A Movement

If you missed my wit and wisdom I apologize for my absence - and recommend you get out more! I've been hanging out at peakoil.com again, a sad thing to admit, I admit. Anyway I was thinking about the Deepwater Horizon mess and...



I can't help but consider the irony of the Horizon rig blow out occurring within days of the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day - which itself was inspired in no small part by the Santa Barbara spill of '69.

In fact, the entire "environmental movement" received a kick in the pants because of the widespread news coverage the Union Oil rig blowout received. Tricky Dick fooled everyone (especially the Corporatacracy) and signed the Environmental Protection Act and later created the Environmental Protection Agency in the wake of the public outcry prompted by that "spill".

The Santa Barbara leak didn't cause the tree-hugger movement to materialize from scratch, Silent Spring, written a few years earlier might have been the spark and Dirty Hippies everywhere were certainly ready for a Movement of some kind but those images of oily birds (I can still remember) on the TV every night did the trick.

Pew research recently found 25% of Americans are very interested in the story of the Horizon, more than any other current event. It's 6 weeks after the explosion now and we haven't even seen many dead bird pictures yet - that is a very long time to keep Americans' attention.


I wouldn't be surprised if the various threads of climate change, "green marketing", Peak Oil and outrage over The Leak combine with a kind of national existential angst (if there can be such a thing) to form some new "Movement".

The whole "slow food" - "locavore" thing is good as far as it goes but doesn't go very far. TT "resilience" and "energy descent plans" are the right kind of medicine if the sugar coating were removed - the economic situation, especially if unemployment stays flat or if there is a second leg down, would be the thing that could take the simley face off the Transition Town sign.

I don't see it being the Partiers, angry demands for Nothing! don't seem to me to have very long legs to begin with and anger at too much government doesn't really offer much of a solution to the problems outlined by GW/PO/the economy or The Leak either. In fact, they seem to me on the opposite side - Warming/Smoreming, Drill Baby, deregulate just like Ronnie - - and now that I think about it, I haven't heard the Partiers solution to The Leak.

I'm thinking todays' graduates might be ready for some kind of movement, tens of thousands in debt with no job prospects and employment flat-lining in a two-year old recession. And remember the last 2 recessions were asymmetric jobs wise, the recovery took much longer than the drop and this one still isn't trending up much.

Then you've got the Boomers, they were 20 about the time of the Santa Barbara blowout. They were the first wave of the granola-eaters, then they put on leisure suits, then changed to power ties. They have always set the tone and remade the world in their own image. They are about 60 now and control all the money like old folks always do, I wonder if they have another change left in them or if they are just tired and scared for their nestegg?

That leaves the 25-54 demographic and I really don't have a clue about what they might do or think about all this distraction. I'd venture they are probably most directly hit by the credit/housing bust but maybe less affected by unemployment? They do have kids though and it could be The Leak hits a nerve with them more so than other groups.


I don't usually make bold predictions but I'm going to predict a movement coalescing around The Leak. I think it will have elements of conservationism certainly but my crystal ball doesn't show clearly whether it is the Teddy Roosevelt brand of protecting resources so they can be better exploited or more of the Earth First brand so I'll guess radical environmental.

Likewise I can't be sure if it will be socialist or fascist or anarchist but I'm leaning anarchist because government has become a corporatocracy and most know it already. If they don't know it now, they will by the time the corporations exercise their constitutional right to free speech in the coming elections - the ultimate right of a natural person endowed on corporations, newly granted by the Bush SCOTUS .

So, by that line of dubious reasoning we arrive at an enviro-anarchist movement populated by aging hippies, unemployed and homeless moms and dads, unemployable grads with iron clad contractual agreements to pay back student loans to the government and various and sundry economic refugees.

Hmmm.

1 comments:

straker said...

I keep on coming back to oil (or should I say, BAU as a whole) as an addiction. Even Bush said we're addicted to oil.

Think of all the celebrities who had overdoses that nearly killed them, and instead of being scared straight, kept sticking a needle in their arm all the way to the morgue.

A good example of this is Layne Staley from Alice in Chains. At the end of his life, he gave an interview where he spoke candidly that he knew he was fully aware that he was killing himself, and the drug wasn't providing anything of value to him anymore other than avoiding withdrawal, yet he felt locked into his fate.

I think that's where we are. The alternative to BAU (i.e. powerdown, the end of globalization, the rapid downsizing of the economy) is simply OFF THE TABLE. And so as much as people are upset over the death of the Gulf, there is nothing to be done besides jump up and down and be angry.

Angry at BP. Angry at the administration. Angry at all corporations and politicians. Angry at everything but our collective lifestyle which leads to the destruction of the planet. If the oil hadn't spilled into the Gulf, then it would have gone out our tailpipes and indirectly cause a few species to go extinct from climate change. It's just that the impact is so immediate and visual that we respond.

But where were we after Valdez and the other spills? We were busy happy motoring, of course.

So whatever activism that emerges out of this isn't going to lead to anything productive. At best, it will go in a techno-fix direction, which we know won't be enough to make a difference.