In recent days I’ve been asked why I haven’t done a column on British Petroleum and the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Several reasons. Ridenbaugh Press is basically a Northwest blog so I try to discipline my wandering journalistic mind to issues of the neighborhood.

Additionally, professionals of every stripe are up to their waders in oil and it’s aftermath. Geologists, biologists, engineers, fishermen, crabbers, Coast Guard, Navy, meteorologists, veterinarians, etc. Pretty much the entire spectrum of people who can offer help from every conceivable profession.

Also, the oil story has been written and photographed by about every communications outlet in the world; some devoting vast coverage which it certainly warrants. Media professionals, using the latest technology, have portrayed every possible angle. So I assume you’re getting the facts. Not much left for a lone voice in Douglas County.

Still, there is one angle … entirely local … I can’t find anywhere . One extremely local portion of the worldwide story not reported. And that’s the overwhelming sense of helplessness and terrible loss filling my head each day. Yours, too, I’d guess. That’s local. The sense that, for once, we’re at the absolute mercy of the physics of our earth with no technological answer.

We’ve seen hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, hail storms. Even world wars. They come, they storm, they flood, they destroy, they kill. They end. We begin again.

But this … this damned hole in the earth … this seemingly endless black poison that eventually kills nearly every living thing it touches … this petroleum plague is, so far, beyond any human power to control, divert or capture. It confounds our most skilled professionals with their computerized whizbang solutions to nearly everything. It defeats technology. It scorns our feeble attempts to “put a cork in it.” It threatens to continue until the massive pool and extreme gaseous pressures it is under exhaust themselves, heedless of the hourly mass destruction it’s dealing us which will likely last for centuries.

Here’s something to keep in mind. BP would not have fronted the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to reach that oil if research had not shown the amount to be large … very large … and worth the cost to get it. The equipment and technology required cost so much the company had to be very certain there was enough oil there to recapture the costs and reap the billions of dollars for which it is famous.

None of that bodes well for us and our ecological world. We are at the absolute mercy of unknown forces we can’t control. Our children’s children and their children will live with the lasting damages we’re only beginning to experience. Land portions of our nation are disappearing. The pace of that vanishing act will only be quickened by the oil as grasses holding the soil are killed and the naked land washes out to sea. Hurricanes will be even more destructive because we’re losing the natural elements that have slowed their speeds.

Is BP to blame? Damned right! Are state and federal agencies culpable? Damned right! Democrats and Republicans and their appointees? Damned right! A special pox on politicians throwing around asinine charges and doing their always useless finger pointing. We don’t have time for … or need of … them.

The Gulf story is local to Roseburg and Wenatchee and Albany and Walla Walla. We may not see the oil or taste it or smell it. But it is stealing our land as certainly as it is wiping out seamen, fishermen, their crafts and their heritage in and around the Gulf. Their irreplaceable losses are losses for the nation. We’re the poorer for their suffering. Our anger … while never as heartfelt as theirs … should be directed at those who would rape, ruin and run. Our condemnation for those who would expose this continent to the ravages we are seeing without the technology to undo what they have begun should be tireless.

Never … never … have I felt so at the mercy of forces that can’t be controlled, diminished, diverted or overcome. With man’s inept interference, we are witnessing the unchecked power of nature and the terrible damages it can cause. It makes one feel absolutely … powerless.

That’s why I haven’t done a column on the Gulf oil disaster.

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