This is a post I hoped I would never write. As you, my readers, know, I practice the virtue of chardi kala, translated in many different ways, but all having the meaning of eternal optimism and never giving up. I am still practicing, but it is hard.
No doubt by now you have heard about the massive oil spill by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico in the Caribbean Sea, truly a paradise on earth. Or at least it was until 20 April 2010. On that day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig - owned and run by British Petroleum - exploded, caught fire and began gushing massive amounts of crude oil into the pristine waters around it. Eleven were killed and 17 injured. That was tragic, but it is just the beginning.
Here's a nice little widget to help you calculate.
Those are pretty dry figures for most people, so here's a more graphic look. This is what the spill looks like right now (30 June 2010):
Ifitwasmyhome to move the spill to wherever you live.
Perhaps you'd like to see it as it happens.
If that's not enough to bring it home to you, here are a few oil-soaked pelicans. I find this horribly painful to look at.
In addition, massive amounts of methane gas has been released into the water. This may well turn out to be even more dangerous than the oil. The methane depletes the water of oxygen, leaving all the sea life devoid of the element that is necessary to all life on earth. It is feared that the methane will cause a dead zone where nothing can live, possibly for decades. Also, scientists believe that a huge methane bubble is forming under the water. When it bursts, it could release a tsunami of 20-60 ft (6.1-18.3 m), certainly enough to engulf most of the Caribbean islands. For more information on the gas leak, go here:
Gas Leak 3000 Times Worse Than Oil.
And, by the way, with our current technology we have no way to cap or contain the methane.
I guess that's not enough bad news. It is now hurricane season. (For those of you in Asia, those are typhoons.) There will be hurricanes. In fact, the first one is blowing right now. Hurricane Alex did not move close to the spill, but there will be another hurricane and another and another.
The next thing to consider is the ocean currents. The Gulf Stream is an ocean river that runs from the Caribbean to Europe.
Best case scenario: the southern coast of the United States becomes uninhabitable for a period of time and much of the sea life in the Gulf of Mexico dies, with devastating consequences to the people who now live there. As it is impossible that there be no hurricanes in the season, we can be sure that the winds will carry the oil throughout the region, damaging all it touches. That damage cannot be estimated at this time, except to say it will be extensive.
This morning (1 July 2010), going through my inbox, I found this article in the daily UN bulletin:
Methane at 100,000 times normal levels have been creating oxygen-depleted areas devoid of life near BP's Deepwater Horizon spill, according to two independent scientists
As I child I grew up with "nuclear annihilation."
That was the biggie. There have been others: the hole in the ozone layer, swine flu (twice), bird flu, global climate change and I'm sure others that I have forgotten. And it seems, life causes cancer. There is truth in all these scientific assertions, but there was also something we could do to stop or at least alleviate the disaster. As I see it, this is different because we are helpless to do anything except pray. Of course, I am not a scientist, and the only way I see out of this is divine intervention. Even if the spill can somehow be stopped, we can do nothing about the methane. This is the time more than ever before that we need to dig deep within ourselves and find the high spirits, the chardi kala, that is a part of us. It takes courage to look tragedy in the face and carry on without panic or depression.
Remain in chardi kala, my dear brothers and sisters!
the fire - United States Coast Guard (via Wikipedia)
dead fish - Sean Gardner (Reuters)
the pelicans - Charlie Riedel (AP)
the earth - courtesy of NASA