Last Thursday was the one-month anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster and every day, we see more and more evidence that collectively we have failed to not only act, but also we have failed to organize and express our anger about the disaster, and its truly shocking long-term consequences.
My friend Peter Daou wrote a remarkable post, The Great Shame: America's Pathetic Response To The Gulf Catastrophe earlier this week -- a very popular one I might add judging by the over 1,200 comments.
One thing that struck me is this passage:
This isn't Katrina II, it's worse. As the oil keeps gushing and the damage keeps growing, we are squandering a rare chance to turn the tide against those whose laziness and greed and ignorance is imperiling every living thing on our wonderful and beautiful -- and wounded --- planet.
Words are a necessary precursor to deeds, anger is an essential ingredient for social change. Speaking up and speaking out is the difference between apathy and action.
We all do need to speak up, we all do need to speak out and we all need to make our voices heard. Every single day, the catastrophe is getting worse.
Today, as I debate why America is so apathetic towards the spill, I am in Los Angeles. As you travel the country, it's not top of the news anywhere anymore. It's fading away, but as the oil floods the Gulf, I was sent another great post by Pete Altman at NRDC, check out these shocking numbers about what one day of inaction looks like.
Because every day we delay,
The United States imports 11.7 million barrels of oil. According to the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. imported an average of 11.7 million barrels per day of crude and other oil products in 2009.
Iran earns $173 million in oil revenues. The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that Iran will generate oil export revenue at $63.4 billion this year from output of 3.82 million barrels per day (bpd). $63.4 billion divided by 365 days is $173.7 million.
Up to 4 million gallons of oil surges into the Gulf. The official estimate is that about 5,000 barrels of oil are spilling per day, but independent experts contend that the actual amount is far higher -- as much as 95,000 barrels per day. A barrel holds 42 gallons.
China invests $95 million in clean energy -- nearly double the United States investment ($51 million.) In 2009, China invested $34.6 billion in clean energy compared to $18.6 billion in the U.S. ($34.6 billion/365 = $95 million a day, $18.6 billion/365 = $51 million a day.)
100,000 solar panels roll off Chinese production lines. Solar module production in China and Taiwan will increase 48 percent to 5,515 megawatts in 2010, according to a February, 2010 report by Yuanta. One megawatt requires about 5,000 panels. Assuming 250 production days per year, this translates to 110,300 panels per day.
The United States generates 19 million tons (metric) of greenhouse gas emissions per year. EPA's most recent greenhouse gas inventory reports that the U.S. produced 6,956.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent basis) in 2008. That's 19,059,726 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each day.
Clearly we need to move from apathy to action. Because as every day passes, as the evidence of our collective failure washes up on the beaches of the Gulf and deeper and deeper into the marshes of Louisiana, what's Washington's reaction?
"Pathetic" would be kind.
There will evidently be a commission to study this disaster, but as we saw with the 9/11 commission, even solid recommendations are usually ignored by one or both parties with little hope of action.
And Lindsey Graham, who has usually been the top Republican on the issue, thinks that the disaster in the Gulf is a cry for a "smaller" clean energy and climate change bill?
Smaller? This is what is so disgustingly wrong with Washington, and it's up to us to send a message.
Smaller? No way. This is a rallying cry to long-needed action.
Start by watching this:
There's more we can all do and more we all must do but for today, it's a start.