Something doesn't feel right about the oil spill. Shouldn't we be having a telethon or something? Shouldn't we be marshalling volunteers?
Something doesn't feel right about the oil spill.
Shouldn't we be having a telethon or something? Shouldn't we be marshalling volunteers?
It's been 44 days since an explosion on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers in the Gulf of Mexico. No one's sure how much oil has spewed into the water since then. Estimates range from 20 million to 40 million gallons.
This isn't like the Exxon Valdez, where, unthinkable as it was, there was a finite amount -- 11 million gallons - to be leaked. Yes, this seemingly bottomless pit will go dry at some point in the future, so technically there's a finite disaster here as well. We just have no idea how much worse it's going to get.
There are some things we do know.
Our fellow Americans' livelihoods are in jeopardy. Our fish and wildlife are in jeopardy, too. Our beaches could be closed for decades. Even our food supply could be at risk.
At least a telethon would let us feel something useful is happening, superficial though it may be.
Instead, we're watching oil gush out, live, 24/7, on www.bp.com.
We're listening to BP executives say they're trying everything they can. Everything they've done has failed and failed and failed, but, hey, maybe in two months they can get this thing under control.
We're hearing people who usually don't want government anywhere near them calling for big government to take full control.
We're seeing the blame game in full swing. No one's defending British Petroleum, but BP has plenty of co-conspirators in cyberspace and in print. It's President Obama's fault because everything is his fault. He's a Democrat. It's Dick Cheney's fault since Halliburton has a heavy hand in this fiasco. And he's a Republican. It's former President Bush's fault because he didn't care about the environment. It's the media's fault because we didn't cover the crisis enough, or at least not in the right way.
We've got a national movement afoot on Facebook calling for concerned citizens to boycott BP gas stations, even if they are independently owned and boycotting them will have zero effect on BP brass but plenty of effect on local residents employed at the local gas stations.
What we don't have is a rallying point or person.
"Dallas" actress Victoria Principal has donated $200,000 toward the cleanup effort through nonprofits Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Director James Cameron has been called on to share his knowledge of underwater filming technology. And actor Kevin Costner has invested more than $24 million to develop devices to help clean up the spill.
But we're not hearing a unified voice of celebrities coming together for a cause. No Sting. No Springsteen. No Garth Brooks or Beyonce. No nationally televised concert plans.
Maybe that's because this isn't some nature-driven disaster like Hurricane Katrina or the Haiti earthquake, or an unprecedented attack like 9/11.
This is BP's fault and the company should pay for fixing the mess, plain and simple. And when it files for bankruptcy protection, which would seem like a logical next step in this chain of events, the federal government, already gushing debt like the uncapped underwater well, will pick up the full tab, even if that full tab is as unfathomable as the current national debt.
Surely there's something we can do.
Americans are can-do people. We jump in. We step up to the plate. In the hours after 9/11, we overwhelmed blood banks with our desire to give. We roll up our sleeves. We build houses. We volunteer. We come up with creative ideas to get us out of jams.
So far the only creative ideas I've heard are Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to build barriers to stave off environmental Armageddon; and the plan to use hair and/or pet fur to form oil-sopping booms, though publicity about the hair scheme was followed by Coast Guard and BP statements saying there were no plans to use such devices.
Maybe a telethon could raise ideas as well as cash.
This is a bigger mess than most of us can wrap our minds around. It requires more technical expertise than almost all of us possess. But surely there must be something we can do.
Can we help build barriers? Donate to buy protective gear for volunteers willing to clean up marshes? Deploy more veterinarians to the scene?
While Attorney General Eric Holder investigates possible criminal and civil wrongdoing, the damages continue to pile up. Is there no role for the average American in saving ourselves from an unprecedented disaster? Is there no one who can tell us how we can help?
It doesn't feel right to keep doing nothing at all.
MetroWest Daily News writer Julia Spitz can be reached at 508-626-3968 or email@example.com. Check metrowestdailynews.com for the Spitz Bits blog.