El fondo marino no es sólo un lugar peligroso de donde extraer recursos naturales, es parte de un regalo asombroso que todas las generaciones deben poder gozar, preservar y entregar a las siguientes. Hemos fallado en nuestra responsabilidad como guardianes.
Drew Christiansen, S.J.

New York / Ecología – Ian Guidry se detuvo mientras sacaba paladas de barro cafesosa de la playa en la isla Grande Terre en la costa de Luisiana durante un instante lo suficientemente largo para medir la oscura línea de petróleo que marca la marea alta. Estaba contento de tener este trabajo, ya que la explosión de la plataforma petrolífera Deepwater Horizon afectó gravemente la economía local, pero estaba ansioso por hacer este trabajo no sólo por la paga. “Quiero que mis hijos puedan experimentar lo que yo he experimentado”, dijo. Él creció cerca de Grand Isle, un popular balneario de verano donde se practica el surf y la pesca. No había terminado el señor Guidry de retirar un poco de petróleo de la playa cuando el oleaje depositó otra cantidad. ¿Creerá que con este aparentemente inútil esfuerzo logrará su objetivo? El señor Guidry se dio vuelta un segundo para mirar la playa. “No creo que jamás vuelva a ser como antes”, declaró.

 La marea ya ha depositado pelícanos y marsopas muertos no muy lejos del lugar donde trabaja el señor Guidry; los sobrevivientes que llegan cubiertos de petróleo son llevados rápidamente para ser tratados. El petróleo deja un lustre multicolor sobre las aguas del Golfo, y para aquellos que observan las manchas cafés de petróleo que flotan y se dan vueltas en la corriente como hojas otoñales, es difícil no hacer una pausa para lamentarse por el crimen que se está cometiendo contra la creación de Dios. “¿Qué hemos hecho?” le preguntaba un reportero en voz alta y en un tono entre broma y disculpa, a los pelícanos que daban vueltas por ahí.
 
British Petroleum deberá cargar con la mayor parte de la responsabilidad por el desastre no-natural que se está desarrollando en el Golfo de México. Durante los últimos tres años, BP ha sido responsable de 829 de las 851 violaciones dolosas a la seguridad y la salud que registra la Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Después de una serie de incidentes mortales y accidentes ecológicos menores, el récord de irresponsabilidades de BP prueba que lo de Deepwater Horizon era sólo un accidente que ocurriría en cualquier momento. La compañía privilegió las ganancias por sobre la seguridad y en su arrogancia, buscó petróleo en las profundidades, sin tener una estrategia de recuperación clara, practicada y confiable en caso de desastre. Estamos todos viviendo con el resultado predecible de esa monumental negligencia. No obstante, sería un flaco servicio a los sobrevivientes de los 11 hombres que perdieron la vida el 20 de abril y al sufrimiento de la gente, de la vida silvestre y la ecología de los estados del Golfo si la vergüenza y la culpabilidad recayeran sólo en BP.
 
Nuestro gobierno hizo mal su trabajo desde mucho antes de la explosión y el hundimiento de la plataforma Deepwater Horizon: desde que renunció a su rol fiscalizador que le es propio. Se descubrió a funcionarios del Minerals Management Service recibiendo regalos de parte de ejecutivos de la industria petrolera, aspirando coca y que tienen una activa vida sexual con empleado/as de la industria petrolera. Y la confianza del gobierno en la pericia de BP, que la compañía no tiene, y en su pronta respuesta, la que no se produjo, indican que durante décadas, en su urgencia por lograr una fuente confiable de energía, los Estados Unidos han ido cediendo demasiada autoridad a las poderosas corporaciones multinacionales. Las dimensiones de este desastre pueden haber sido difíciles de predecir, no así la posibilidad de su ocurrencia. ¿Adónde estaban los respaldos al plan de respaldo? ¿Por qué, después de años de exploración submarina, este único acontecimiento ha resultado ser tan desconcertante? En el caso específico, ¿si la dimensión del desastre del Deepwater Horizon realmente excede la capacidad de toda la industria y de las agencias federales para responder ante el desastre, entonces por qué se permite este método de extracción en primer término?
 
El público estadounidense también tiene una parte de responsabilidad en tanto sociedad de consumo que vive más allá de sus medios. Hemos estado negando nuestros apetitos, poco dispuestos a hacer los sacrificios requeridos por un mundo real donde las reservas de combustibles fósiles disminuyen, y satisfechos de desviar el riesgo hacia otro lado. Los estadounidenses dicen que quieren un gobierno chico e intervención regulatoria limitada; luego se sorprenden cuando el gobierno no tiene la capacidad para responder ante crisis más grandes o no ha hecho una buena labor de prevención. Menospreciamos a los funcionarios públicos y escatimamos en sus salarios, luego reclamamos por la “puerta giratoria” de Washington cuando los reguladores se jubilan y se convierten en lobistas o expertos de la industria. Y mientras muchos estadounidenses apoyan las energías alternativas, la mayoría se resiste a un incremento en los impuestos que podrían propulsar su desarrollo. No podemos tenerlo todo.
 
Podríamos empezar cambiando nuestra manera de vivir redoblando los esfuerzos conservacionistas. Podríamos darle la espalda al comercio de derechos de emisión y darle su justo valor, el de un proyecto que implica tiempo y gasto y reporta poco beneficio, y promover en vez un impuesto al carbono que es más efectivo. No se requeriría mucho para postergar indefinidamente peligrosas propuestas para la exploración en el Ártico. El fondo marino no es sólo un lugar peligroso de donde extraer recursos naturales, es parte de un regalo asombroso que todas las generaciones deben poder gozar, preservar y entregar a las siguientes. Hemos fallado en nuestra responsabilidad como guardianes. Un experto contador algún día puede hacer el cálculo del costo de este derrame de petróleo y su limpieza para los contribuyentes, la industria pesquera y del turismo y los desafortunados residentes de los estados del Golfo y mandarle una factura que incluya todo esto a los ejecutivos de BP. Pero no hay ser humano que pueda calcular el costo del desastre para los pantanos, el océano y la vida silvestre, a la hermosa creación de Dios. Que Dios nos perdone; quizás nuestros nietos no sean tan misericordiosos.
______________
Drew Christiansen, S.J. Este es un artículo editorial de revista America, www.americamagazine.org

 
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