Oil continues to spill in the Gulf with an equal gushing forth of accusations. Politicos use this crisis to deliver a few more punches to President Barack Obama. Tea party members proclaim the need for less government. Is this less of the government which approved tax and royalty relief to encourage oil drilling, as part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act? Subsidies which made sense at $18 a barrel, yet continue even at today’s prices. Or is this less of the government which responded to the very inability of private companies to accept responsibility for environmental safety, and created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect our air, water and environment.
Point fingers just doesn’t work in our world anymore. “Lost there, felt here.” This simple credo of Conservation International reminds us that the oil will not only impact the supply of shrimp, or the cleanliness of the beaches, but it will destroy large areas of eco-system and the livelihood of the people who depend on them. Where will these people go? There are more refugees displaced by environmental disasters than by war, and experts have projected that number will double within the next five years to over 50 million. These are the fishermen who will soon have to join the refugees from Katrina in the ranks of the unemployed. Canada has taken on refugees from Bangladesh and Haiti, and all wealthy nations will share in the financial responsibility of the displacement of people, and the decimation of previously bountiful lands turned to desert, or flooded by rising seas.
It is time to stop looking at Uncle Sam, and start looking in the mirror. What can we do in our own towns, our businesses, our own life patterns?