As oil continues to pour from the wreckage of the Macondo lease, a new source of pollution has opened up. Politicians seeking electoral advantage, pundits seeking recognition and worried citizens seeking some answer to this growing hell-sea have been popping up with greater frequency, spewing blame and toxic rhetoric on the media beaches.
Bobby Jindal wants more booms. David Vitter thinks Thad Allen's stalling on building berms. Chris Matthews wants Barack Obama to wave a wand. Mike Papantionio wants supertankers with skimmers. Salazar wants to pose with his boot on somebody's neck.
All of them want camera time. And none of them want to tell the truth. Me, neither, but it's time someone does. If you're a big fan of hope, you may want to skip this diary.
The Louisiana marshes, hatchery for the nation's premiere fishery, are gone. The American Gulf is likely gone. The amount of oil and dispersants already in the water will adversely affect marine species for the rest of our lives.
All the booms and all the berms and all the hair and hay and cardboard will not stop the sea of poison that has already entered Breton Sound, Barataria Bay, Vermillion Bay and will soon be coming to an ecological niche near you.
Go ahead and boom, go on and dredge up some islands. And for god's sake get some cement or golf balls or a pony nuke or something into that hole. Maybe it will keep the millionth gallon out of the marsh. But do not deceive yourselves. This is done.
Determining fault will not stop that, though it must be done. Suing the responsible parties into the poor house, though needed to compensate the legions of people robbed by this gooey monster, will not save one fish. Pandora can't close that box.
There is only one possible redemption in this horror, and even that is a slim chance. If the enormity of what has happened in the Gulf can hold the country's atrophied attention long enough, and if we can mobilize fast enough, we might, just might, be able to bring about a positive change from this:
Real and comprehensive energy and climate legislation.
We must act now to force our legislators to write law with teeth and real effect, law that requires consumers pay the true price of the carbon they burn, law that requires business to pay the true price of the carbon they spew, law that includes the costs of things "no one could have anticipated" into the price of doing business.
We are going to have to fight harder for this than for health care or finance reform or DADT repeal. We are going to have to find Republicans to turn. (You really don't think Mary Landrieu is going to oppose her owners on this, do you?) And we are going to have to do it now, this summer.
Because, despite their never getting another decent shrimp, despite their condo in Destin halving in value, despite all the pictures of ugly, oily critters, America is going to forget this, the largest kill-off the environment will likely see in our lifetimes.
A new crisis will erupt, a new tragedy will befall an innocent, a celebrity will fuck someone they shouldn't. Americans will drool by their TVs, remark, "Ain't that somethin'?" and then hop in their vehicles to work and shop and play. More holes will be dug.
And all of this will have meant nothing.
Unless we use this moment, use the deaths of species and the suffering of people who depend on them, in the most cynical, calculated way, as bad as a Republican after 9/11, to make real, lasting change in how we address the costs of our way of life.
You cannot save the Gulf. But you can make its death mean something.