Our Planet, Our People are not Expendable!
The Gulf of Mexico has been destroyed. Immeasurable, irreparable damage has been done to wildlife, the health of the ocean, and people’s livelihoods. We have been cursed for years to come. It cannot, as BP promises, be “made right.” In fact, even after this utter catastrophe, crimes against the planet and its inhabitants continue without pause.
We are told that the government is supposed to guarantee the rights of the people. But when a big corporation decides our rights are not in their interests, then POOF! They vanish into thin air. In a clear violation of our rights to free speech and a free press, government agencies have assisted BP’s lies and cover-up by restricting media access, threatening journalists with felony charges and $40,000 fines. Uniformed police officers in Louisiana have harassed photographers at public beaches. BP has threatened workers with firing if they talk to anyone about anything.
We are also told that the government’s purpose is to protect the country and us. But instead the government helps big corporations plunder the country and trash our lives. The Minerals Management Service allowed BP to cut corners and violate safety regulations, leading finally to the fatal decision to save a few hundred thousand dollars by not installing a backup valve.
When BP ignored an order by the Environmental Protection Agency to stop using the dispersant Corexit 9500 (a poisonous compound banned in Europe), the EPA did absolutely nothing. Millions of gallons are still being dumped into the Gulf, even as it has been shown to evaporate and fall as toxic rain, and is damaging plants far inland.
BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates during the past 20 years, with the biggest portion going to Obama. It also spent $15.9 million on lobbying last year alone, for the purpose of controlling energy policy.
What does all this tell us?
The government repeatedly sells us out to corporate interests. It sells out our rights, our health, our safety, our livelihoods, our lives, and the natural world. The government is merely a tool to facilitate the conversion of life into profit.
The BP spill is not an accident. It is an inevitable consequence of a global economic system that values profit over life. The BP spill is not unique. Oil companies have ruined large areas of the Niger Delta, Ecuador and other parts of the world, and they will continue to do so until they are stopped.
The ruthless pursuit of profit has caused 98 percent of old growth forests to be cut down. Ninety-nine percent of the prairies are gone. Eighty percent of rivers worldwide no longer support life. Ninety-four percent of the large fish in the oceans are gone. One hundred and twenty species-per-day becomes extinct. Now the Gulf of Mexico has been ruined. Clearly, a global economic system based on perpetual growth is unsustainable. Yet those who run this system do not stop, will not stop.
At what point will we stop accepting this?
We cannot stand by while big corporations like BP, with the assistance of the U.S. government, destroy our lives and our planet. We should have stopped them a long time ago. Now we must stop them before they do even more damage, before they kill everything. We depend upon the natural world—we must now urgently come to its defense.
Stephanie McMillan is a cartoonist who draws the daily comic strip “Minimum Security” and the weekly editorial cartoon “Code Green.” Her website is stephaniemcmillan.org.
—commondreams.org, July 17, 2010