Ecocentric

Why the Reaction to the Gulf Spill Is So Depressing

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The reaction among environment writers—and political ones, for that matter—on Obama’s speech was almost uniformly negative. (David Roberts at Grist, who noted that Obama at least took energy efficiency seriously, has a good roundup.)

But I thought Bradford Plumer at the New Republic put his finger on why not just Obama’s reaction, but the whole country’s response to the Gulf spill has been so dispiriting—and what it may say about the difficulties we’ll have facing up to climate change. Here’s the takeaway:

What’s especially unnerving, though, is that the recklessness that helped bring about the spill, and the political reaction that followed, seem to indicate a larger inability to prevent and cope with other large-scale ecological catastrophes—particularly climate change. True, the analogy’s not perfect: The Deepwater Horizon blowout was a sudden and local event, while global warming is slowly creeping up on us and, well, global. But the same set of human characteristics that precipitated the one calamity may well hinder us from stopping the other.

Plumer goes on to point out that so far there’s been no real evidence that the Gulf spill will spark the environmental renaissance that the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill did. (That accident, and the images of an oil-soaked California coast that followed it, helped lead to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, among other green milestones.) It’s not clear why—environmentalism, like just about every other issue, seems to be far more partisan then it was 40 years ago. But if this spill, as horrible as it is, can’t change the country, I’m not sure what can. Read the rest of the post here.

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