Blog: The Informed Ecologist

Drill Baby Drill to Spill Baby Spill

As a chemical scientist and a manufacturer of Specialty Chemicals  we are very disappointed in the dollars saving design the industry employed. The catastrophic explosion that caused an oil spill from a BP offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico is on track to become the worst oil spill in history, surpassing the damage done by the Exxon Valdez tanker that spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the ecologically sensitive Prince William Sound in 1989. Unlike the Exxon Valdez tragedy, in which a tanker held a finite capacity of oil, BP’s rig is tapped into an underwater oil well and could pump more oil into the ocean indefinitely until the leak is plugged. (In 1855, the Dwamish Chief Seattle, of Washington Territory, sent the following letter to President Franklin Pierce. Not surprisingly, his powerful plea was ignored by Pierce, and every President to follow. Now, we need, more than ever, a president who will listen to Chief Seattle’s simple words.)

To the Great Chief in Washington,

We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s grave, and his children’s birthright is forgotten.

The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand. There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the leaves of spring or the rustle of insect wings. But perhaps because I am a savage and do not understand, the clatter only seems to insult the ears.

The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind itself cleansed by a midday rain, or scented by a Pinion pine. The air is precious to the Redman. For all things share the same breath: the beasts, the trees, and the man.

The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench.

I have seen thousands of rotting buffaloes on the prairie left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand. What is man without the beasts? If all beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast happens also to the man.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man does not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat. Our warriors have felt shame. It matters little where we pass the rest of our days; they are not many. A few more hours, a few more winters, and none of the children of the great tribes that once lived on this earth will remain to mourn the graves of a people once as powerful and hopeful as yours.

But even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all; we shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover: our God is the same God. You may think that you own him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the Body of man, and his compassion is equal for the red man and white. This earth is precious to him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.

The whites too shall pass, perhaps sooner than other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you may shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery for us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are slaughtered, and the wild horses tamed. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

We might understand if we knew what it was the white man dreams, what hopes he describes to his children on long winter nights, what visions he burns into their minds, so they will wish for tomorrow. But we are savages. The white man’s dreams are hidden from us. And because they are hidden we will go our own way.

If we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. Hold in your memory the way the land is as you take it. And with all your strength, with all your might, with all your heart, preserve it for your children and love it …. as God loves us all.

One thing we know. Our God is the same God. This earth is precious to Him. Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all.

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