Author David Helvarg brought a wave of ocean enthusiasm to his reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz. The long-time activist and founder of the ocean dedicated organization, Blue Frontier, was in town to promote his new book, “Saved by the Sea” but took questions concerning the Gulf Coast oil spill. This was just before Helvarg abandoned his book tour to visit the Gulf and put his focus on the crisis at hand. See his report from the Gulf here.
Helvarg was clear and concrete in his interpretation of the Gulf Coast oil spill, suggesting the laws that came from the Valdez spill “basically put the bank-robbers in charge of mopping up the blood at the crime scene.” But noting, “I remain more frustrated than despairing because we know what the solutions are. The challenges are huge and the moment is here.”
“With his talk of a battle plan to fight the oil President Obama has begun to adopt the rhetoric of war. But I’d choose a more appropriate metaphor.
From my own experiences I’ve learned that war gives one the illusion of having control over life and death. Cancer strips that illusion away.
The metastasizing spill in the Gulf is like cancer and the activity 90 miles offshore at the source like a messy surgery. The millions of gallons of toxic dispersants are like chemo, the burn offs, radiation.
No metaphor is perfect but when I hear Louisiana’s Treasurer repeat a common claim among the locals that they are in a two front war, against BP’s oil in the marshes and the president’s moratorium on new deepwater drilling (just overturned by a Louisiana Judge) I think about my mother when she discovered she had lung cancer. First she went around the house tearing up her cigarette packs and cursing Chesterfields. Later she shrugged, went to the store and bought a new pack.”—David Helvarg, from Blue Notes