Getting worse

Pour this on your cereal.

Pour this on your cereal.

Tired of reading about the BP/Halliburton oil spill? Tough tooty, kids: It’s heartbreaking, it’s here for the long haul, and the only good thing Aunt Ruth can say about it is that it ain’t happening off the coast of California. All sniveling NIMBYness aside, Aunt Ruth is hunkering down for a long downheartedness about the whole damn thing. While we of Northern Californian are free to breathe some of the worst air in America, at least there isn’t a flotilla of black plumy submarines just outside the San Francisco Bay, gliding silent and deep and waiting to come ashore. Oh good, make Louisiana deal with it, Katrina wasn’t enough.

With every minute, everything is getting worse—yet let’s consider not the illness, but instead the cure. Corexit, the oil dispersant that BP ordered—they have stockpiled a third of the world’s supply, according to Mother Jones—is, depending on who you talk to, a) just this side of toxic (as reported by The Wall Street Journal), or b) four times more toxic than the oil itself, according to Protect the Ocean. Originally developed by Exxon, Corexit is in heavy rotation, because it is the devil we know vs. the devil we don’t. Corexit “is among the least efficient in breaking up the kind of oil typically found in the vicinity of this spill” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Water-based Dispersit has one-third of the toxicity of Corexit. Yet Corexit is the drug of choice; “EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said last week that large amounts of the chemical were quickly available at the time of the spill,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Still, with every minute, everything is getting worse. And with the Gulf ripe for “an unusually destructive hurricane season,” according to Reuters (one that can wreak havoc on cleanup efforts), what are we Californians to do? Maybe Aunt Ruth can develop a new branch of therapy: the treatment of eco-depression. We’ll see if a good, natural diet, spending more time in nature (or with your dog), a bicycle commute in the rain, a daily dose of organic gardening and the commitment of thousands of small acts of environmental conscience can go to head-to-head against Prozac, Freud and electroshock therapy.

“Lay back,” says Doctor Ruth, “and tell me: Did your mother separate the garbage when you were young?”