Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Written by Walter Pierce
In every way, the spill is a disaster because of people.
It’s rare that this publication devotes consecutive issues to the same topic. We did it five years ago for a hurricane. We do it now.
Contemporary Gulf Coast history spans either side of a cleft marked Aug. 29, 2005. Pre-K and Post-K. And so it will be with this. We will settle on a name, like we did for 9-11.
Spill is commonly used. But this isn’t a spill. And leak doesn’t seem to convey it either. Those words are puny. This is big.
Common usage will settle it, and common usage is central to this catastrophe.
Last week I sat down with Don Davis, a retired geography professor at LSU who has spent more than half his life studying Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and its complex, exotic culture. Davis’s new book, Washed Away: The Invisible Peoples of Louisiana’s Wetlands, traces the history of this land and its inhabitants. It was purely and wildly coincidental that the book was released as this Faustian tragedy unfolds. And while Davis is a geographer by degree, it is the wetlands’ people — the common users — that drive his perception of the coast. This event, this spill, wouldn’t be a disaster without people.
“The coast is not a place; it’s a process, it’s a geologic process. It becomes a place when people live there,” he told me. “When you have people involved, or the way they make their living, that changes everything. If it happens on some stretch of the coast where there’s nobody living for 200 or 300 miles, then it’s an annoyance. We may have a moral obligation to clean it up, as we should. But as soon as you have the human factor, everything changes.”
Davis’s observation is a super species of the old “if a tree falls in the forest” brain teaser. Physicists may debate it over beer, but it also drills to the core of this very serious matter: What is the coast, the wetlands, the estuaries without people? People ascribe value to a thing; people make commodities out of raw materials.
And the human factor, like human nature, has a dark side; that is to say, this spill wouldn’t have happened without people, and not just on a micro level of making bad decisions, ignoring warnings and cutting corners, but in macro as well.
Stand beside Johnston Street one morning during rush hour, or along Camellia Boulevard or Ambassador Caffery, and watch the traffic whisk by. In the majority of the vehicles, nearly half of which are thirsty SUVs and pickup trucks, is a single person. A driver. No passengers. Thirteen miles to the gallon for one fat ass.
Now look out to the Gulf. That black, wet tumor metastasizing along the coast and in the marshes? That’s ours. We can no more marvel at it than a smoker who sees the x-ray of his blackened, cancerous lungs.
And now the Gulf Coast, and Lafayette in particular, faces grim alternatives: shut down drilling until we’re confident it can be done safely, thereby running the risk of wrecking our economy, or resume deepwater drilling and risk far greater environmental catastrophe.
We should be mad as hell at BP; it has an abysmal safety record. But we should be mad as hell at ourselves, too. Like the unfortunate Dr. Faust, we made a deal with the devil. Payment is due.
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative
Lafayette-based emergency department staffing and management company raises $120 million in senior credit facilities through GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.
High-rise apartment building, parking garage, hotel and retail part of new development.
A common thread runs through many of those we oppose: Enshrining in the Constitution protections on programs and their funding sources has had a disastrous effect on Louisiana’s most important economic development engine.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
The number of Louisianans with jobs continued to set records in September, but the state's unemployment rate kept rising as new job seekers keep entering the market.
Three bedroom cottage or three bedroom ranch
Sheer lace perfection
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana is drowning, quickly.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
Three bedroom in Lawtell or two bedroom in Rayne
Fall's new darling
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
An investment group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will buy the Louisiana power company Cleco for $3.4 billion.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
"I feel it is appropriate to speak up when there are topics that are being bandied about with little or no factual data to back them."
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.