Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"I don't like to call it a disaster"

I did not know about the 3 million gallon oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969.

Santa Barbara oil spill - 1969
Santa Barbara oil spill - 1969
LA Times Photos

Nature writer John McKinney:
"I had been impressed by the way energetic college students, shopkeepers, surfers, parents with their kids, all joined the beach clean-up. I saw a Montecito society matron transporting oily birds in her Mercedes."
McKinney witnessed the event firsthand as a volunteer who rescued oiled birds. A chapter of his book A Walk Along Land's End describes his experience.

Fred L. Hartley, president of Union Oil Co.:
"I don't like to call it a disaster," because there has been no loss of human life.
"I am amazed at the publicity for the loss of a few birds."

Santa Barbara NewsPress Editor Thomas Storke:
"Never in my long lifetime have I ever seen such an aroused populace at the grassroots level. This oil pollution has done something I have never seen before in Santa Barbara – it has united citizens of all political persuasions in a truly nonpartisan cause."

U.S. President Richard Nixon:
"It is sad that it was necessary that Santa Barbara should be the example that had to bring it to the attention of the American people. What is involved is the use of our resources of the sea and of the land in a more effective way and with more concern for preserving the beauty and the natural resources that are so important to any kind of society that we want for the future. The Santa Barbara incident has frankly touched the conscience of the American people."

[From the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network Website.]

I read about this because President Bush is looking to repeal the ban on off shore drilling imposed by his father in 1990.

First I was intrigued by family politics. The public playing out of power between father and son -- (( can you imagine -- your son is president... but it's him! can you imagine, you are president, and then he comes along...))

But I'm more moved by us, again...

By our inability to remember our history --
how quickly our understandings pass with healing -- memory and understanding and experience disappearing like any other wound...

And what we will do to ourselves -- our bodies -- soil and water -- when we become desperate.
How it is easier to destroy what we have first -- to degrade our resources until we have no choice but to move...

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