05/21/2010 04:16 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea..."

Time to dig that old summer camp song out of the trunk: "There's a hole in the bottom of the sea, there's a hole in the bottom of the sea, there's a hole, there's a hole...." Only now it's morphed into a nightmarish dirge: "There's a hole in the belly of the world, there's a hole in the belly of the world..." and the hole really is at the very bottom of the sea, five thousand feet down; and through it, our planet is discharging into our oceans at a rate of hundreds of thousands of barrels a day a fossil fuel treasure created over hundreds of thousands of years

We've literally poked a hole in our earth's skin, punctured its innards, and are now helplessly watching as its vital fluids gush into the planet's ocean mantle, threatening to despoil the very waters from which our living species once came and that is the source and substance of all life.

We are trying to plug the hole, but it is way too far down, way too vulnerable to pressure and cold for the bleeding to be staunched. Imagine open heart surgery on a patient at the bottom of a deep well where the doctors must operate as they stand around the well opening. Imagine tying the shoes of a running man after your hands and feet have been chopped off.

We will eventually (very eventually) find ways to plug the hole, after enormous environmental damage is wrought. But will we have learned the lesson? No, not the lesson about corporate greed or government duplicity or human obliviousness, but the one about hubris. The lesson whose moral is:


The issue is our hubris -- our age-old tendency to delude ourselves that we have answers when we don't, that fire isn't flammable, that technology and tools are omnipotent when they will always be subject to the our own defining frailties.


When we poke holes in deep rock, we fracture stone, catalyze earthquakes, and poison ground water. When we puncture earth's skin in deep water, it's impossible to apply a fix at all. And even when we succeed in poking holes without incident, we avoid immediate pollution of earth and water only to assure eventual pollution of air and atmosphere. What is transpiring today in the Gulf of Mexico far below is a prelude to what will happen tomorrow far above, when we spew the residue of safely drilled fossil fuels into the air. Perhaps the gift of the Gulf is that we can see and feel what we have done in the water, wring our hands over spoiled environment, while we do not see and cannot feel what we do daily to the atmosphere with the poisonous fumes left over from our misuse of fossils fuels.


For energy, use the sun that is all around us, no hole-poking needed; use the ubiquitous wind, no hole-poking required; use the tides and hydro-power water affords us, no hole-poking necessary.

STOP POKING HOLES IN OUR EARTH! It is our world we are killing, one puncture at a time.