As we watch the huge slick from the Gulf oil spill spread across the ocean, I’m reminded of the Greek mythological Mother Earth goddess Gaia, made popular in the late 1970’s and, later, in the 1990’s by James Lovelock who wrote the book “Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth.”
Lovelock suggested that we live in a changing world of living and dead organic matter keeping the Earth habitable and self-regulating. He named his theory the Gaia Hypothesis. Derivations of “Gaia” go back into antiquity as a female name found in many religions and cultures, except for the Egyptians who used “Geb,” a male Earth father.
Whenever massive disasters occur, caused by humans or nature, people watch in horror, become angry, worry, lash out. In this case, it’s the U.K. oil company BP feeling the heat. When “natural” disasters occur, like Tsunami’s that kill thousands with huge ocean waves, people blame God or nature.
Human beings like to think that oil spills and other human-caused disasters are preventable, while volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are unpreventable. Yet regardless of the cause, people choose where to live and not always wisely. I live in California next to the Hayward fault which, according to the experts, is due for a big earthquake. Likewise, 80% of all Americans live within 50 miles of a coastline. In ancient Roman times, thousands thought throwing up buildings beneath Mt. Vesuvius was cool until the inevitable happened.
This is not an excuse for British Petroleum and its many mistakes and failures that caused this huge ecological disaster. It’s only to point out that humans choose to take risks. Every time we get in a car, we risk an accident. Buying a home near an earthquake fault is plain stupid. And setting up oil rigs and drilling into the Earth one mile beneath the ocean is also very risky. Face it, every decision we make, whether boarding a plane or walking across the street, is a risk. (That’s what keeps insurance companies in business.)
Somehow, despite the risks we take that create potentially dangerous consequences, we and Mother Earth survive. We must. The alternative isn’t too pretty.
So as you watch politicians arguing about who was to blame for the Gulf oil blowout, keep in mind that if it wasn’t BP’s stupidity and lack of proper protocols, someday, somewhere, somehow an equally horrible disaster would have occurred.
Now is not the time for blame. Now is the time for ending the name calling and helping people in the Gulf states recover. It’s what Gaia, Mother Earth and nature expect us to do.