Oil(s), Art and the Environment

Life as Art: Goose Creek in Oils

Atlanta artist Damon Carter paints from the bank of Goose Creek on recent June day. He’ll have a finished oil painting of our oft-depicted barn soon, and I’ll share the link–and possibly the possibility to obtain it for your walls. As you can see if you click to view the larger image, I rendered Damon here as part of his art, an artist immersed in his medium.

☼ On a less lovely note, I posted a while back and early on in the Gulf debacle that I had much concern about the dispersants being used–close to a million gallons of it–and now even the former trade secret ingredients are known: docusate, the chief ingredient of stool softeners. Opens up all sorts of gusher and gas analogies, and one has to wonder what this stuff (not to mention the petroleum constituents of the oil) does to a loggerhead turtle’s gut when they ingest the floating globules in the deep plumes we can’t see.

☼ Along the same lines (sadly, it’s so hard to divert one’s gaze) I encourage you to be open to a teachable moment, as Bill McKibben describes this opportunity to confess we’ve reached a tipping point, that maybe because of this terrible pathology of a vital organ of the planet–the Gulf of Mexico–we’ve hit the limit of our willful denial of the end of the Era of Oil. This transition should have started 40 years ago. We’ve postponed what we all knew must come.

BP has gone to all this trouble for a well that taps into what they now think may be 100 million barrels of oil. And that’s…5 days supply for the U.S? Does that give you any sense of the precariousness of the arrangements undergirding our economy right at the moment?

☼ On a happier and more personal topic, after considerable paragraph by paragraph formatting edits, Slow Road Home is now in the pipe for distribution as an ebook in a variety of formats. I’ll wait until it makes its way to the various vendors before passing along the link, but it won’t be long. And it probably won’t make any appreciable difference to sales, but it needed doing. I’m not willing to let the conversation started in the two books die just yet. Now, perhaps more than ever, we really need to be talking to each other about relationships–to nature, to place and to planet, and that is, after all, the overarching range of themes in Slow Road Home and What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader.

☼ Lastly (not because I’ve run out of stuff!) I find that Amory Lovins’ decades old and perpetually updated ideas of how we transition towards transportation in an age beyond peak oil to be inspirational. Watch this 15 minute video on TED, then download oilendgame for free.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. The dispersant issue weighs heavily on my mind. It speaks to our faith in big oil and big chemical companies rather than paying attention to actual ecology. It is a poster child for everything that is wrong with the modern approach to life, or not to life, so to speak.

    Thanks for keeping this in the forefront of our attention,. We all need to be vigilant!


  2. I watched the video and it was very exciting. New materials sounds very good, but if they are carbon fiber, where do we get the raw material? Coal? Oil?
    What does TED stand for?
    I had a little difficulty digging around in the website your link sent me to until I located the video.