The photos are disturbing. In the late 1960s, pesticide almost rendered the Brown Pelican extinct and just last year the unique bird, that at one time numbered 50,000 in Louisiana, was taken off the Endangered Species List. Unfortunately, the current crisis in the Gulf will most likely change the pelican’s status once again.

The CEO of British Petroleum (BP), Tony Hayward, has admitted that “BP could have done more” to safeguard against the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Gee, Tony! Do ya think?!?!?  Talk about a day late and a dollar short! You could have done more to prevent the worst environmental disaster in United States history? You could have done more to prevent the death of 11 men? You could have done more to prevent  thousands and thousands of helpless animals from a needless death? Then why the hell didn’t you? The answer? In one word? Greed.

Mishkan T’filah, the Reform Judaism siddur (prayer book) offers several  prayers that can be recited as the congregation welcomes Shabbat. One of these prayers reads in part,

…There are days when we exploit nature as if it were a horn of plenty that can never be exhausted.

Greed. The more oil BP (and any number of oil companies) pumps from the depths of the ocean the more money that can be made and the larger the paycheck for executives of the company. The more corners cut the faster the oil can reach the surface and the more money that can be made for the oil company. The less thought about regulations that are in place to safeguard the lives of the people on the rig and protect the environment the more money that can be made for the owners of the rig.  The result from cutting corners and ignoring regulations? Look at the Brown Pelican.  Ask the widows of the 11 killed.

Funny thing about nature; push her too hard and she finally breaks. What’s ironic is we work so hard to extract the oil she produces and now that she’s given it up we’re working so hard to stop it.  We should all pray that the executives at BP figure out a way to do that before it’s too late. Unfortunately, judging from the looks of the Brown Pelican, I think it already is.