BP oil spill as study in thwarted domination

Naomi Klein has a powerful analysis of the BP oil spill over at the UK Guardian. In short, she argues that the disaster and its aftermath are more than an anomalous display of poor planning and corporate greed; the Deepwater Horizon disaster is the latest and most profound in a long line of moments when the complexity of nature has re-asserted itself, and in so doing, pointed out the limitations of domination and technology. No matter how much money we pour into R&D or fancy terminology or inspiring speeches we try to distract the public with, we just can’t fix the earth once it’s broken. We can’t dominate nature. She writes:

If Katrina pulled back the curtain on the reality of racism in America, the BP disaster pulls back the curtain on something far more hidden: how little control even the most ingenious among us have over the awesome, intricately interconnected natural forces with which we so casually meddle.

In other words, we ain’t got shit on mother nature. This is, as I see it, a very feminist analysis. We’ve got a bunch of highly paid, mostly male leaders–corporate CEOs and PR reps, presidents and other governmental officials, and engineers–convinced they can dominate nature rather than recognizing their interdependence with it, much less their lack of understanding about its complexity. Klein goes on:

This Gulf coast crisis is about many things–corruption, deregulation, the addiction to fossil fuels. But underneath it all, it’s about this: our culture’s excruciatingly dangerous claim to have such complete understanding and command over nature that we radically manipulate and re-engineer it with minimal risk to the natural systems that sustain us.

She goes on to talk about other cultures, both contemporary and past, which saw the earth as a living, breathing entity (surprise, surprise, usually female) and treated it with reverence–seeing it as an puzzling, awing force that humans were beholden to. Today we let Palin lead us in chants of drill, baby, drill in Alaska, saw off the top of mountains in Appalachia, and keep driving our SUVs because it’s the American way. Attempts at domination lead to uprisings that destabalize power. So think of that geyser of oil as a super loud protest chant from a very pissed off Mother Earth.
And because you gotta laugh or you’ll cry your eyes out:

Reproductive health impacts of the BP oil spill
Notes for a bitch…owning disaster…
Thanks to Nicole Anderson and Jon Lundrstrom for the heads up.

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