Letters to the Editor

Environmentalism is mainstream

Watching the ecological disaster metastasizing in the Gulf of Mexico, it's hard not to recall a line misattributed to Ogden Nash: "A wonderful bird is a pelican, His bill can hold more than his bellican." This line in turn makes me think of Art Blenk's recent letter ("Efforts disregard cost to people," June 17) and inspires the thought: "A curious bird is the hater, His brain is as dense as a tater."

While appearing to exonerate BP from liability, Blenk asserts that the real perpetrators are the government and the environmentalists who forced BP to drill in the deep waters of the Gulf when every right-thinking person knows they should have been allowed to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Ipso facto, that would have sated BP's appetite for drilling sites, he would like us to believe.

Blenk's most egregious error is to view environmentalism as a form of extremism. While there are extremists in nearly every movement (Thomas Paine and Mahatma Gandhi come to mind), they seldom comprise a majority. Would Blenk characterize the legislators who passed the Clean Air Act and the five U.S. presidents who endorsed major extensions to the law (George H. W. Bush was the most recent) as environmental extremists? The Endangered Species Act which Blenk derides was signed by a presumed environmental kook named Richard Nixon, who, in my view, enhanced his legacy still further when he signed the Clean Water Act. For eccentrics like me who ache at the scenes coming out of the Gulf, a case can be made that those who fail to promote accommodation with the natural realities of our small planet must harbor, knowingly or not, a long-term death wish for our species.

America will be transformed in unimaginable ways by events now unfolding in the Gulf. Yet what appears to be criminal misrepresentation on the part of BP when it contractually asserted its ability to deal with spills of the magnitude of Deepwater Horizon could, in the rosiest of scenarios, have a positive outcome. That is, it could force America to confront the reality that our continuing prosperity is based on a rapidly vanishing resource. The brilliance of our nation lies in its ability to meet seemingly insurmountable problems head on, and then to solve them. It's time to find out if we are worthy of the affluence that inspired our forbears to sacrifice so much.

In closing, and with apologies to Ogden Nash, I offer up this limerick:

We drill and we drill and we drill,

With never a thought for a spill,

What's a few million turtles and birds and fish,

As long as each day we get all that we wish,

And the drillers and spillers don't mind what they kill?

The writer lives in Pawleys Island.