Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The value of 40 Billion dollars (and why 12/02 might be the new 4/20)

 This image taken from my latest favorite website, whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com

Sorry for the month long lapse--this past October was a wild one needless to say, full of the College Music Journal (CMJ) music festival here in New York (more like a marathon might I say--and I'd even venture to bet that everyone who participated left with at least 3 years taken away from their lives, yet very few regrets), pre-midterm election flurries (VOTE NOW PEOPLE), a rally to restore sanity (that restored my faith in 10,000 Americans), a particular person's best birthday ever (24--so old), a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, and a 21 day (currently on day 16) long cleanse (sans alcohol, caffeine, dairy, soy, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, gluten, corn, sugar, oranges, bananas, you get my jist) and LOADS of goings on in the environmental sphere.

What might you ask has been going on?

Oh--the US Department of Energy has given $5 million to ocean energy research into offshore wind and other oceanic energy projects...that's a fantastic precursor to hopefully what becomes more of a worldwide norm in alternative energy growth.  Wind--for those of you who don't know it intimately like a person from Chicago as myself might, is extremely powerful, naturally occurring, and quite a genius way indeed of harnessing natural processes to supply our man/woman made needs.  Palm Springs, California has had wind farms for as long as I can remember, and not only are they an interesting addition to the desert landscape, but they are efficient, cheap and earth-healthy ways of powering the population there.  They may not produce the most energy in comparison to some other manners, and yes maybe they aren't the most attractive, but how cool would it be if artists became involved with offshore wind projects and really turned them into collaborative communities for art, energy harnessing, science, technology, and who knows what else?!  This is my ideal world :)

Related to that--have you seen what has been going on off the coast of Cancun over the last few months?  If you didn't know, hurricanes, climate change, atmospheric carbon, and changing conditions have been bleaching and deteriorating the underwater topography and coral reefs of coastal Mexico for a long time now.  Enter Jason de Caires Taylor, a British sculptor who has been outfitting the underwater environment with lifelike human sculptures--hundreds of them.  The goal of this underwater museum of sorts is not only to distract tourists away from the reefs, but also to create a new habitat for which marine life may flourish.  The sculptures are made from ocean and eco-friendly concrete, where hopefully algae and other organisms will populate and grow into a blossoming underwater community alongside the naturally occurring coral reefs.  Ted Sorenson, JFK's speechwriter, who sadly passed away yesterday, said that "Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man."  This underwater museum is a great example of a man--an artist at that--creating a beautiful resolution to an arguably manmade (at least 75%) problem.  Yay, Jason!

So, two great environmental occurences thus far...but what else might you ask?  Many might view this next one as a so called "bad" headline.  Today, BP announced that they were upping the projected cost of cleaning up the oil spill from $7 Billion to $40 Billion (yes, I typed 4 0).  Their stock shares did not drop, and they reported a profit (YES A PROFIT).

How, on earth or in water or in the sky or on land, you might ask, do I see this as a potentially good thing?

I'll try to suss this one out for you succinctly now.

At first, earlier in the day, in my smart elevator traveling to my desk job, I gawked at said numbers and the fact that they as a company are still profiting.  About an hour later, after I tweeted the headline, I thought to myself, thank god oil companies make so much freaking money--because who else would be able to sustain the costs to clean this kind of disaster up?  Backwards logic--but just a thought.

And then, a few hours after that, I though wow.  What if they had kept the estimate low, and really only tried to spend less than needed (for whatever reason--cost cutting, public perception, trying to downplay the depths of the environmental degradation, impact, etc)?  Then, I started thinking that at least it was good that they were willing to up their numbers almost 6 fold so abruptly, right?

The point is this: the spill and its effects will last for a long time.  Time = money.  BP is indicating that this is going to be a bitch of a clean up, that there are unknowns, and that it's going to cost a crazy amount of money (more than in Ducktales, when the rich uncle dove into his giant pile of gold coins).  The fact that they are still profiting (while as crazy as that may seem--and if this doesn't prove to you how backwards the extractive industry is around the world, and maybe how crazy financial markets really are, I'm not sure what will) is actually probably a solid happenstance.  Why?


Right.  I hope their stock stays strong.  That money for cleaning up, for supporting the fishing and oystermen communities which they destroyed, for the failure of tourism in the Gulf this summer, for the pending seafood related issues, and for much much more will be sorely needed in this clean up.

Who knows--maybe one day they'll invest even more of their money into:

a) alternative energy (like algae-- Solazyme has my favorite of all--look, now you can even eat it in your cookies!!!--Bryan Walsh of Time Mag did)

b) helping to sustain and be involved in the communities in which they are extracting oil or

c) in helping to build a better regulatory environment around protecting the areas from where they are profiting thanks to oil or whatever natural resource.

Maybe this is optimistic.  But how can I not be an optimist on today, when many of my friends and family (based in California), are voting on global warming AND legalization of Marijuana legislation!!!???

If these votes (against 23 and for 19) pass the way I'd like them to...12/02 is the new 4/20.


~peace (no pun intended)