Sea Changes: The Gulf Stream and the BP Spill

This article, from the May 28, 2010 subscriber edition of Planet Waves, describes why the BP spill was, and still is, a worldwide event. The gulf stream is one of the world’s root currents, which connects to every other major ocean current on the planet. — efc

Dear Friend and Reader:

We are certainly in an Atlantian moment.

Coming to terms with the Gulf of Mexico, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, named for the mythical Lost Continent that sank because its people could not control their technology, is in part about recognizing the immediate effect of this runaway chemical spill.

The Gulf Stream originates in the Gulf of Mexico, travels up the East Coast and across the Atlantic, where it warms the climate of Western Europe and the British Isles.

The Gulf Stream originates in the Gulf of Mexico, travels up the East Coast and across the Atlantic, where it warms the climate of Western Europe and the British Isles.

For the rest of our lives, the magnificent Gulf Coast, which I was blessed to see just once (from the sea wall at Galveston), will be a hazardous waste dump and wildlife charnel ground. The sight of haz-mat workers and people wearing respirators is the new image of the once-thriving region of the world. It’s become so toxic that as of Wednesday the EPA has called back all of the fishing boats that were participating in the nascent cleanup because workers are starting to get sick with dizziness, chest pains, nausea — classical symptoms of an acute toxic exposure. CNN video yesterday, produced by Anderson Cooper, was eerily reminiscent of descriptions of DDT-sprayed forests by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring. The wildlife sanctuaries, they said, were dead quiet.

Barring an actual divine intervention-styled miracle [if you're a lightworker, or if you're in with some friendly space brothers, please get busy], it’s only a matter of time before the sludge gets into the Loop Current and then the Gulf Stream. We could be seeing this oil on the beaches of Key West, of Maine and the coasts of England and Western Europe and as far away as West Africa. Consider this description of the Gulf Stream, from Wikipedia:

“The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico, exits through the Strait of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The process of western intensification causes the Gulf Stream to be a northward accelerating current offshore the east coast of North America. At about [40°0′N latitude] it splits in two, with the northern stream crossing to northern Europe and the southern stream recirculating off West Africa. The Gulf Stream influences the climate of the east coast of North America from Florida to Newfoundland, and the west coast of Europe.”

In other words, the Gulf of Mexico was about the worst place on the planet this could happen, as the source of one of the world’s master currents.

So, as we move into the most exciting astrology of our generation so far, the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction on the Aries Point, we do so in the midst of a confrontation with a dimension of reality that most of us have so far avoided awareness of: the consequences of industrialism. We know that the lives we lead damage the planet, though usually it happens more slowly than we’re seeing now; indeed, slowly enough to ignore. This is true for many people to whom it happens literally in their backyard. And I would dare say, we know how little we give back.

This view of Atlantic Ocean currents shows an even more complex set of possibilities as to where the oil spewing from a single well in the Gulf of Mexico can travel. Oceans are not stagnant ponds; they are dynamic systems, and what happens in any ocean can affect what happens in any other.

This view of Atlantic Ocean currents shows an even more complex set of possibilities as to where the oil spewing from a single well in the Gulf of Mexico can travel. Oceans are not stagnant ponds; they are dynamic systems, and what happens in any ocean can affect what happens in any other.

Yet another confrontation involves witnessing how the technology we trust so well can run out of control in a moment. The blanket assurances of safety we are given are almost always lies. This is difficult because we want to be told that it’s safe. In my long reporting career as an environmental journalist, I’ve watched people practically beg to be lied to, then gamble their lives, and those of their children, on that lie. I have watched once-honest people, confronted with a difficult truth, morph into liars, and flee into becoming participants in the coverup.

The psychology is complex. Once a student editor refused to print my articles about a toxic situation involving PCBs on his campus. He said he was afraid he would go to hell if he published my articles (he was Catholic). The next time I saw him, he was working as PR man for General Electric, specifically on the issue of the PCBs they had dumped in the Hudson River.

If we want to know why this kind of stuff happens, we need look no further than moments when we have a choice to accept truth or deception, and then contribute our power one way or the other. Often there is the equation, “If I accept this truth, what else do I have to accept?”

Though it may be difficult to see, we are all in such a moment now: every one of us who is aware of this tragedy, every one of us who cares, everyone who wishes it would go away. The spectrum of personal responsibility and individual potential responses ranges from how we allocate our energy (Americans use twice the energy of our European counterparts, for the same or lower quality of life) to the choices we make for where to spend our money. We choose when we participate with the corporate and government entities that surround us. They are quite fond of telling us how safe it all is, and how much we need them, and we choose when we believe them.

For the moment, the petrochemical industry has us convinced that we would not be able to survive without them. This is one of their favorite lies — because it works so well.

Last week on the Planet Waves daily page, we broke a story that opens an unpleasant dimension of reality. You’ve probably heard that BP is pouring tons of a chemical dispersant called Corexit into the Gulf of Mexico, in an attempt to thin out the oil spewing into Gulf waters at the rate of about a barrel per second. It’s been widely reported that there are more effective, potentially less toxic products. The chemical is made by a corporate ally of BP called Nalco Holdings, whose stock jumped on the news that BP would be buying all of its available Corexit supply.

A 2008 article in New Scientist described how the Gulf Stream keeps Europe warm: hot air rising off of the sea which can carry any volatile chemical with it.

A 2008 article in New Scientist described how the Gulf Stream keeps Europe warm: hot air rising off of the sea which can carry any volatile chemical with it.

Nalco, in turn, used to own a company called Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories (IBT Labs, for short). And who were they? Well, they were one of the moral lessons of our times. When you wake up in the morning and take a shower using antibactierial soap or brush your teeth with flouride toothpaste or apply sunscreen, you are using chemical ingredients — present in nearly every packaged product — that have been safety-tested by supposedly independent testing labs, one of which was IBT.

Through the Sixties and Seventies, IBT Labs was in the business of producing thousands of fraudulent studies ‘proving’ that the chemicals contained in every product in your home are safe to be used on your skin, and that of your children, and your dog; and safe for your liver and kidneys and hormones and immune system. Who was affected? In hearings called by Senator Ted Kennedy, one official wryly testified: “everyone who washes” (unless of course you use Dr. Bronner’s soap).

The problem was, not a single study was valid. The history is covered in two articles posted on Planet Waves, one of which originated in Amicus Journal and the other written by me in Sierra magazine. The result was one of the longest, most hideous criminal trials in United States history, resulting in several fraud convictions. Many of the chemicals certified safe by IBT Labs are still on the market, and we have no reason to believe they are safe — if they were, honest science would have worked fine. In one study, a chemical IBT certified as a non-carcinogen killed all of the mice with cancer.

So now we have Nalco itself, the sponsor of this lab, creating the chemical that’s now being dumped into the Gulf, to deal with another chemical flooding out of the Earth uncontrollably. The two are mixing and they will have what is called a synergistic effect: they make a brew of new chemicals with unknown effects. The EPA has ordered BP to use a different chemical. BP is still using Corexit. Welcome to Atlantis.

Hurricane Alex formed and moved along the axis of the Gulf Stream in 2004. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Hurricane Alex formed and moved along the axis of the Gulf Stream in 2004. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The personal question is: when will you stop believing that these promises of safety by the chemical industry, and the petroleum industry, are honest? Why do half of us get cancer? Think about that the next time you put a flea collar on your dog, or the next time you squirt some Purell into your hands, or the next time you microwave in plastic, or the next time you swallow an oral contraceptive or have it shoved under your daughter’s skin. Think about it before you let her get the Gardasil vaccine. Think about it when you put your cell phone up to your skull.

We can only hope that this event will be the one that wakes us up. As I suggest in Tuesday’s edition, however, our lifetimes have been nothing more than one long sequence of events that ‘should have woken us up’, and we chose to stay asleep. I won’t make a list; it would be too depressing.

So, what comes of this? Do we read the obituary for the Gulf of Mexico and turn the page? Do you trade in your SUV for something that gets better mileage? Do you look up the ingredients in the deodorant you use? I admit it, this is a tempting time to go back to sleep. And if you choose that, you will miss one of the greatest opportunities in the history of humanity: the one where you get to help correct our course, take responsibility for your life, and both claim your power and start to use it. For those concerned about sacrificing their individuality, so far as I can tell, to claim your personal creative gift is also to claim humanity’s co-creative gift. They are the same thing, based on the same quality of thought and action.

Now, as I write, I am aware of the Law of Attraction, which says: what we focus on increases. We get more of how we already feel, till we change how we feel. That’s one reason why I am focusing on empowerment through awareness, and the ability to choose, rather than any other angle. While it’s clear that nearly any way you look at the Gulf of Mexico disaster, it’s going to lower the vibration of the planet, we’re still left with the choice for how to live. We also have the option to hold down our awareness of the issue, which is pretty much a guarantee of despair, because it’s a concession to having no power.

So, where to from here?

Well, what choices do you see for yourself as we embark on the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction? Or more to the point, what do you want?

I can tell you that, from what I’ve learned doing the work I do, the people I know who struggle the most tend to have one thing in common — they don’t know what they want. Humanity, as told in the story of the planets, is in a particularly amazing moment for making that discovery. I know that in theory this must be true all the time, though this is the grand synchronicity of the moment. We are at this point among the byways of the cosmic timescape where we can awaken to ourselves through our entirely unique inner qualities described by a conjunction on the Aries Point.

And it would seem like a worthy time to awaken to a level of group consciousness that makes a significant shift in collective awareness possible. And I dare say we would benefit from both. This is the theme of our times; this is the moment when we get to be alive.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

Eric Francis

About Eric Francis

Planet Waves began in 1998 as the home of the Eric Francis horoscope, a prominent feature in our premium service. Going far beyond what most Sun-sign astrologers even dream is possible, Eric brings in-depth interpretations to his work. He is a pioneer in the newly-discovered planets, including Chiron and the centaurs, and is able to translate their movements into accessible human terms, offering ideas for life, love and work. Discover a whole new world of literary journalism in Planet Waves. We offer free trial subscriptions, discounts for students and seniors, and gift subscriptions for veterans and those on active military duty.
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