|These two firefighters had been working on the damaged pipeline that is causing a catastrophic oil spill in China. One fell in to the thick crude and the other jumped in to rescue. One died. The other was pulled to safety. This photograph was published yesterday in the China Daily.
Apparently Stalin had occasion to suggest that “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” This is only true to the extent that one death can be imagined. Please let’s not fail to imagine this. As, Diane DiPrima, Poet Laureate of San Francisco has written, “the only war that matters is the war against the imagination.”
UPDATE: 1 July 2010 We’ve learned that the email detailed below emanates from the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, itself part of the Turtle Island Restoration Network, which, along with the Center for Biological Diversity has announced a lawsuit against BP and the Federal government. How this relates to the mission for which volunteers are being recruited is unclear.
Apparently Unified Command for the BP oil disaster (you know, BP plus the Feds) has decided that more experienced help would be nice with the rescue of sea turtles. The only thing that wouldn’t be nice would be to pay that help…
Here is an excerpt from an email currently circulating through the wildlife rehabilitation community…
We have made significant progress w BP Unified Command to scale up sea turtle recovery efforts. Monday I am flying from CA to FL to assist w expansion so boats leave daily from LA and FL, and hopefully soon we lead more wildlife rescue boats. I am a marine biologist/toxicologist with haz materials experience and oiled wildlife care experience.
If you or your colleagues have wildlife rehab/rescue/oiled care experience and can work a volunteer shift for 2 weeks or more, please forward resume and supporting info to me.
This week many NGO leaders met with DOI to do just this, get more NGO qualified personnel helping. Together, our combined efforts can start a change
Of course, during most oil spills, the wildlife response relies on volunteer help, as does most wildlife rehabilitation. The outpouring of concern, and the desire to help, is enormous and part of the legally mandated rehabilitation and restoration of natural resources must include the people who also are wounded by the disaster.
But this is a much different kind of catastrophe than a typical spill, and BP has proven itself to be a much different kind of responsible party.
Each day, while professionals wait, sidelined, for reasons not given, we are told how BP is “ramping up” the response and at the same time giving it every resource available. As if we are not intelligent enough to understand the conflict in those statements – much like we have been told that the amount gushing from the hole they dug under the sea is less than the amount being captured on the surface.
At this point it is impossible to deduce what is true and what is false from what Unified Command announces… as if another result might have been possible from a policy of opacity.