Edgy Mama: The cost of the oil spill for our kids

Our kids understand that we’re trashing the earth. A 2009 poll revealed that one in three of those aged 6 to 11 fears an apocalypse in their lifetimes.

Rightly so. Over the past few years, my kids have stressed about Hurricane Katrina, California wildfires, miners dying underground, and now, the uncontrolled oil spill off our Gulf coast.

The media tells us that many kids living in the vicinity have been traumatized by the one-two punch of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

I can’t imagine how these children must be feeling — and how their parents must be struggling to help them make sense of what’s happening.

The spill and its repercussions have unnerved my children, and they’re not directly affected. At least not in the obvious ways of actually seeing the rampant environmental and economic damage, which thousands of folks in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and now Florida, are witnessing.

However, my girl had a panic attack last week when she realized that the oil might at some point ruin the Georgia coast where we vacation, and where, in fact, we are likely to be when you read this column.

She’s 11 years old, the same age as Malia Obama, and she, too, recognizes in some way that this situation — this massive amount of oil pouring into the ocean — sucks.

The President recently told the story of Malia asking the question, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?” His answer, of course, was, “No.” But he admitted in a speech during his most recent visit to the devastated area that he was struck by his daughter’s interest.

Yes indeed, sir. The anger and despair over this growing environmental disaster has spread across our country like a huge staph infection. Yes, it’s infecting our kids. All of them — not just those who are shoveling up tar balls and being told not to swim in the blood-tinged waters; but also those children, like mine and yours, who recognize that this is one more nail in the formaldehyde-laden coffin of their future.

Let’s remember just some of the fossil fuel offenses to our kids over the past few years — Katrina (partially due to climate change), 25 miners killed in West Virginia (coal), the coal ash spill in Tennessee (coal), and elevated pulmonary disease in Asheville (coal and oil).

Yeah, I’m having a dramatic moment, but imagine me, as you read this, gazing out at the sea, watching my kids play in the waves — a beer and book in hand. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? But in reality, I’ll be sitting there fuming. I am, and I will be, pissed off as hell at the devastation I know is happening in the Gulf even as I live my blessed life.

So, thanks BP, Transocean, Cameron International and Halliburton. Thanks for ruining the lives of a whole hell of a lot of people. Thanks for killing innocents. And for choking the life out of dolphins, turtles, birds and plankton. For screwing up the food chain. And thank you very much for piling more emotional baggage on the world’s children.

I can rant all day, but it’s not going to change much. I’m not the President, thank the goddesses. I am, however, a parent, and I’ve talked to both my kids about what we, as individuals, can do so that, maybe, just maybe, this doesn’t happen again.

We need to lose our dependence on oil and coal. No, it’s not going to be easy (yep, we drove to the beach). It’s gonna be slow. But we must do it. We must—the world, the nation — research and invest in alternate energy sources. We must use our hard-earned cash for good — on energy-efficiency and greener living. I don’t always walk this talk. It’s hard. It hurts. Sometimes I drive when I could walk or bike. But I’ve got to stop that. I’ve got to suck it up and sacrifice. I must try to pry a couple of the nails out of the coffin of my and your kids’ futures.

As the Lorax has been saying to our kids (and to us) since 1971: “Because unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”


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5 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: The cost of the oil spill for our kids

  1. Piffy!

    At the new, realistic estimates of 1-2 million gallons a day ‘leaking’ from a hole in the ocean floor, the size of the spill is currently larger than Buncombe County and STILL growing with NO end in sight. BP estimates the “well” of oil they tapped may have hundreds of millions of gallons in it, still yet to be ‘spilled’.

    some days i wonder if we have brought our kids into a dying world they will never be able to fix. They will never see the salmon run, never know clean drinking water, never know clean air. we have all failed at caring for the planet we inherited.

    And our veracious, ignorant, insatiable appetite for cheap, readily available energy is to blame. We will continue on this trajectory until we are all dead. We will continue to drill, we will continue to talk about “Clean Nuclear” , we will continue to pretend that we don’t KNOW that EVERY aspect of our society is built to fail, is 100% unsustainable, and is doomed to encourage us to consume FAR more than our fair share until the planet is entirely used up.

    Maybe, Maybe, if we all STOP this madness tomorrow, we can reverse the damage. But we all know that will NEVER happen. So, let’s load up our ipod with some dramatic music, gas up the brand-new car, stop at mcdonald’s on the way outta town, and drive straight off a cliff!


  2. Piffy!

    [b]Sometimes I drive when I could walk or bike. But I’ve got to stop that. I’ve got to suck it up and sacrifice. I must try to pry a couple of the nails out of the coffin of my and your kids’ futures. [/b]

    Edgy, i hate to break it to you, but just walking to the store instead of driving aint gonna change a thing. Our entire infrastructure is designed to consume energy needlessly. the items at the store you walked to were brought there by truck, car, plane and boat. They were likely manufactured in a factory spewing toxic waste. They are sold in a store that dumps toxins down the drain every day, and is powered by a polluting energy grid.

    It goes on and on. Personal transportation is really quite minimal in terms of carbon footprint. We need to tackle the BIG polluters, not get mired down in the self-loathing of luddite-thinking. Every single person in asheville could eschew their cars tomorrow, it wouldnt change a single thing unless we also stopped consuming electricity, stopped buying ANYTHING not from our bio-region, etc.

  3. piffy

    indeed miss thang. Perhaps I just want to emphasize that it is a two-fold process. Our small, individual changes wont mean a thing unless we also actively pursue radical changes in the way our entire infrastructure is created, the way our energy grid works, etc. One can not change unless the other does simultaneously, which is probably why we still havent gotten anywhere near ‘there’.

  4. I agree, piffaroo. Luckily, I got Mr. International Climate Change Negotiator (aka E-spouse) working on the big picture changes. I’m just a very small, but angry, bee trying to sting the ass of the lumbering bull.

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