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American Uprising?Daniel Johnson Salem-News.com
If the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t wake up the American people, then nothing will.
(CALGARY, Alberta) - At mid-morning on a Saturday, November 1, 1755, an estimated magnitude 9 earthquake destroyed Lisbon, Portugal.
There were between 10,000 and 100,000 people killed. The quake, subsequent fires and tsunami (the epicentre was 120 miles WSW of Cape St. Vincent) killed indiscriminately—young and old, rich and poor, men, women and children—no matter their station in life.
The people of Europe asked a collective “Why?” and the Church could not stop itself from giving the routine answer—God was punishing sinners.
The people knew this answer to be absurd on its face. Lisbon wasn’t much of a sinning town; not compared to London, Paris or Madrid. But more to the point, thousands of the women and children were poor. Who could imagine them being sinners on a scale sufficient to justify the alleged “punishment”?
This was a defining moment in the history of Europe. People found themselves loosened from obligations to believe whatever the religious and secular authorities handed out. The Church, in particular, lost much of its power to give or withhold moral sanction on the way people lived their lives.
On April 20, 2010 an explosion on a BP drilling platform killed 11 workers—a horrendous tragedy in itself, and not to belittle those deaths, the subsequent flow of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil in the Gulf, with no end in sight, may well turn out to be the an ecological disaster of unprecedented proportions.
The ripple effect will be immense. Compare it to the rabbits of Australia.
It started in 1859 when Thomas Astin released 24 wild rabbits onto his property—rabbits that were not native to Australia and had been imported from England. He released them so he could hunt and said at the time: "The introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting."
Within ten years, the rabbits had become so numerous that two million could be shot or trapped each year without having a noticeable effect on the overall rabbit population. It was the fastest spread ever recorded of any mammal anywhere in the world. Today rabbits are entrenched in the southern and central areas of the country, with scattered populations in the northern deserts.
The rabbits are not a comparison, but rather an example of how little things can be unpredictably magnified into previously unimaginable results. Ecosystems—both local and global, are incredibly fragile balances and no one knows how small things can turn into major disasters. We can’t even imagine what is happening to the Gulf water and the seabed; the coastline and all the millions of people who are going to be affected both directly and indirectly in unpredictable and unimaginable ways.
We can make one comparison to the rabbits: We may soon arrive at the point before long when no matter how many thousands of barrels of oil are scooped up, nullified or recovered, it will have no noticeable effect on the overall devastation.
Who’s to blame?
Barack Obama blames BP (which appears to have cut corners to save time and costs). BP blames Transocean, the rig operator, for mishandling the rig's blow-out preventer. Transocean blames the well's cementing team, which in turn implicates Halliburton. If BP were a Japanese company, the top executives would already have publicly apologized before resigning. (And I wouldn’t be surprised at a few suicides among them, as well. The shame would be overwhelming.)
A defining moment for the American people?
Just as the Lisbon earthquake opened the eyes of so many Europeans to how they were being ruled by illegitimate forces, so it’s possible in this case that the American people may wake up and realize that their governments and the corporations, are delivering to them a bill of goods and not serving the public interest.
There are elections in November and a roused electorate may actually take their country and their government back from the illegitimate money forces that have already brought the country to its economic knees. (Tea Party activists need not apply as they are just another version of the current illegitimate corporate overseers).
But this is also a wake-up call to the American people to do something about their addiction to oil. It’s too expensive.
Here in Alberta we have the Tar Sands; equally vulnerable, just in different ways. The Alberta government has also handed the environment over to the private sector—BP among them.
Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which is why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class — a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue. From 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman, Canada’s top business writer (notably on a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting. He gave up journalism in the early 1980s because he had no interest in being a hack writer for the mainstream media and became a software developer and programmer. He retired from computers last year and is now back to doing what he loves — writing and trying to make the world a better place
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