Do better

Sorry about that.

Sorry about that.

So, you may ask yourself, who are you? Who is staring in the mirror and brushing your teeth? Who are you? Aunt Ruth, being a tribally minded gal, is well aware of who you are. You better believe that businesses built on advertising, as SN&R surely is, know lots about their readership, i.e., The Vast Y’all.

For example, nearly one in three of you were born after 1976. You missed The Sixties, The Nixon and probably didn’t much get The Cold War. Last week’s hoopla about the deaths at Kent State may have struck you as a headline from someplace foreign—be it Juárez, Palestine or Mumbai. But no.

You were, at most, 3 years old when the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island partially melted down. You were 10 when the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl sent a nuclear plume over Europe. (Did that plume ground planes? Aunt Ruth can’t recall.) You were 13 when the Exxon Valdez ran ashore. So now, in that happy tragedy of history, nuclear power and off-shore drilling are back. They are in your future and, so sadly, in your present.

When all the leaking was done, the Exxon Valdez put 10.8 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, off Sarah Palin’s Alaska (she was 23, old enough to remember the tragedy better than “Drill, baby, drill” indicates).

The BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico is, as of this writing, on track to spill that much oil by the end of June. Twenty-one years later, the Alaska spill still lingers, reported to still smell like a gas station. More than 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles and up to 22 killer whales died. An Alaskan spokesperson noted in a recent AP report, “The community exhibited every kind of social stress you can imagine. … Alcoholism, suicide, family violence and divorces went up. … Bankruptcies and various kinds of financial failures went up with the attendant stress on families.”

On behalf of her and her ilk, Aunt Ruth offers an apology to each of you One-Thirders. For such is the happy tragedy of history, remembered or forgotten (it doesn’t seem to matter which). In the strangulation of climate change and declining resources, we build a world of pretending: that drilling is safe, that—perhaps—we can store nuclear waste safely. Think of that with each oily bird you see on TV, and do Aunt Ruth a favor. Do better.