Aerial views of the world are always so incredibly inspiring. A wide-angle lens has the ability to turn our world into a textural canvas of wonder. A spectrum of colour arranged in combinations reflecting both courage and care in creation, looking ‘at’ soon turns to looking ‘within’. Blues dancing with greens, browns breaking through bands of white. Mountain ranges, seascapes, cloud formations, carpets of desert, endless beauty. Together these are the landscapes which form the greater masterpiece of the globe. Such views inspire vision, inspire faith, inspire respect and appreciation. To see the world in its pure, untouched glory inspires the purest of smiles.

Though sadly, at this very moment an aerial view of the world – the Gulf of Mexico in particular – would inspire a desire to look away. First in shock. Then in sadness. Ultimately in quiet shame.

Over a once-perfect canvas, blues now are broken by clawing bands of black, darkness swallowing up the bright. Each and every day the claws of blackness are reaching wider, creeping nearer and nearer to the green.

It started just over twenty days ago. A massive oil rig commissioned by a massive international oil company seeking energy to feed the world’s massive hunger for black gold set out on a massive operation. A small black dot of an event on the regional map, indistinguishable by the naked eye. Out of the blue an explosion lit the sky with towering flames of red and smoke clouds of black. Something had gone horribly wrong. Initial calculations – eleven lives lost. The ache life changing for all involved: families, colleagues, onlookers.

Such loss of man in man’s quest for what more there is to be found. All that was left were endless flows of tears.

And then the spillover of the tragedy – it was not only tears flowing. So too was crude oil. Massive amounts of it, oozing out from a leak in a pipe on the floor of the Gulf, flooding oil straight into the Gulf of Mexico, unstoppably. And with it, more loss of life. Little lives – feathery lives, furry lives, jelly lives, shelled lives, tens of thousands of little lives. Lives lost which broke through the corporate oil company headlines and made it possible for the world to not only see the impact of our efforts to master the world, but to feel the impact.

At this stage, over three weeks on, calculations are unattainable as the impact of the spill is exponential. Current estimates state up to 200 gallons per day, and still leaking. Ominous black dread. The costs have been, and continue to be, massive. The black spot on our waters unforgiving, untamable, unstoppable.

One of the reasons for the inability to calculate the damage has been the ever-growing increase in the number of spheres of impact, including:

Obviously, from the accident itself:

  • Losses of Oil, from the leak
  • Losses of Revenue, from the wasted oil
  • Losses of Money, from the clean-up
  • Losses of corporate Brand equity

But more importantly, from the growing oil slick and contamination of waters:

  • Losses of Aquaculture
  • Losses of Tourism industry activity
  • Losses of Natural Environment
  • Losses of Earnings and Jobs, of those dependent on the Gulf for livelihoods
  • Losses of Political focus, from the emergence of crisis
  • Losses of federal Funds, diverted towards clean-up efforts and compensation / support / economic restimulation of those places effected

Sadly this catastrophe has begun to show signs of a campaign, even before there are signs of repair and recovery. In the US it is being referred to as “Obama’s Katrina”. Creative questions have been raised regarding whether this was in fact a conspiracy. Sadly such creativity of thought in the political space is not being applied where it is most desperately needed – in the scientific space seeking solutions urgently required to stop the leak, contain the spill and save the Gulf. And seeking safe, truly sustainable forms of energy, for the better of all lives, including the little, voiceless ones.

As Ted Turner, the courageous and visionary founder of CNN, recently questioned in an interview with the network: how is it possible that on the same day that we launch a rocket into space we cannot plug the hole?

Because soon, in the thick of all of the oil globules sinking to the bottom of the Gulf and in the thick of all of the debate regarding blame, the little heartbeats of the little lives underwater will stop…all while the oil continues to flow.

Ultimately, the events in the Gulf of Mexico poses a critical question: when it comes to sustainable energy, where should we be applying our energies?

From every direction the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico it is an absolute mess. Industrially, politically, economically, socially, philosophically, environmentally. An aerial view alone shows what a profound dark spot this mess will leave on our record as a civilisation seeking to find a better way to create the future, to move forward.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010