Naming the Earth Demons

BP are hoping that everyone has forgotten about the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, and are quietly putting in place plans to drill in the deep waters off of the west of Shetland, risking an even bigger disaster.

[Greenpeace 12 October 2011]

BP faced fresh condemnation from environmentalists on Thursday after it got the go-ahead to invest £4bn to develop one of the North Sea’s largest oilfields off Shetland.

[Guardian 13 October 2011]

What can possibly be going through Dave Cameron’s domed head when he signs of BP’s latest application to destroy the Atlantic? How does he weigh these matters up? On the one hand, a thousand or so new jobs. On the other, high risk of outright destruction of the Atlantic Ocean, with all the job and livelihood losses that implies (apart from anything else).

Extracts of BP’s own risk assessment document are posted on the Greenpeace site. The document is of course a masterwork of ‘scientific’ assimilation. Graphs and tables and various axioms of oceanography are displayed, and risks summed in statements like “Oil spills may also have a direct impact on the amenity value of the coastline.”

And now we have a clue to what is going through Cameron’s domed head: The fact that this document covers these risks is enough. 

It is a curious inversion of the business of naming the demons. Their power is annulled as soon as they are named. Naming the demons is a basic (and very useful) technique of Buddhist meditation. By noticing the various distractions (demons) as they arrive – sore knee, thinking about tomorrow, thinking about dinner, about sex – we dissimilate from them. We gradually cease to identify with the distracting thoughts, and increasingly identify with that which meditates.

Lizards are doing exactly the same thing, just in an uproariously inverted manner. Cameron is able to dissimilate from Florida, from scenes of oceans covered in dead birds and fish, from black sands, from the enormous WRITING ON THE WALL…simply because the BP ‘scientists’ have named the demons. Cameron can roll the dice, approve the drilling, announce thousands of new jobs, collect serious dollar, move on six places.