Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Thoughts on the Gulf Oil Spill

The situation is pretty desperate right now in the Gulf. I have seen some captivating pictures that try to illustrate the devastating impact that the oil is having on marine and wildlife in the area. What hurts me the most is the oil that has infiltrated the Mississippi River Delta at the southernmost tip of Louisiana. This is essentially a patchwork of marshland and inlets. There is no clear line between the land and the sea. The oil is now weaving it way into the intricate pattern of waterways and will be next to impossible to clean up. I can't even imagine it. Birds lay dying and who knows what the impact will be on marine life underneath the layer of oil.

I have been reading posts on social networking sites that call for an all out boycott of BP. I think we all feel helpless right now and want the responsible parties to pay for this and suffer the consequences of destroying our delicate environment. But is a BP boycott going to actually have an impact on the big oil company - ironically the oil company that took on a marketing position of being CLEAN and GREEN!!! Well, from what I have read and researched, a boycott will likely only hurt the mom and pop owners of the gas stations that buy the oil from BP. In fact, in the state of GA there aren't any gas stations owned by BP at all. They are all owned independently by entrepreneurs. What needs to be done is to convince the owners of the gas stations to buy their gas from different suppliers. Essentially, they need to change their stations from BP to something else - preferably not Exxon - right? Another reason why boycotting is not the answer: if BP loses money they will be more hesitant to pay for cleanup (remember, legally they are only responsible for $75 million and they have already dished out over $700 million). If they refuse to pay for reasons of "lower profits" in future months then who will foot the bill? You guessed it, the taxpayers. There has got to be a better way.

Well, today is the big day as BP tried for the 6th or 7th time to try and stop the leak. They plan on shooting mud and cement into the pipe to try and reverse the pressure and thus stop the oil from pouring out. I hope and pray that this works but what about the millions of gallons that are out in the sea already? Where do we go from here?

It hard to tell if the oil will reach the white sandy tourist beaches of the Florida Panhandle but a comment from a friend of mine who recently visited one of those communities struck me. She said that normally you would see tons of boats out on the water on any given day but for the entire time she was out there with her family, there was not ONE boat to be found. It was an eerie sight to see. The fishing industry has been impacted already and will continue to be for decades some experts estimate.

So what can we really do to help in the clean up?
(taken from the mindful consumer blog)

With a national tragedy like the BP oil spill we ask ourselves what we can do to help. Here are some organizations in need our time, money and supplies as they prepare to start repairing our injured gulf.

1. Matter of Trust
As a former dog groomer who saw bags of dog hair being thrown away everyday wondering if there was ANYTHING that could be done to use it, here it is. The folks at Matter of Trust take trimmed hair from salons, pet grooming shops, even individuals, stuff it in to used nylons and use it to soak up oil. Go to your local hair salon, grooming shop, farm, or anywhere you can think of and ask if they would donate to the program. They are also looking for used nylons, even with snags, so get in to your drawers and send them off. This is a perfect way to use discarded items to make a difference.

2. Suncoast Sea Bird Sanctuary

According to their website they are the largest non-profit wild bird hospital in the United States and admits up to 8,000 birds annually. As they prepare for the effects on the Florida coastline they are in need of linens, kennels, towels, sheets, dawn detergent, paper towels, bottled water and gatorade.You can also donate money directly to the website.

3. Audubon. Large societies like the Audubon are great resources to collect a high number of volunteers and funds in order to help the entire coastline. Their website notes that they are “currently marshalling volunteer resources, leading restoration for Louisiana coastal resources for the long term, and working for safer energy solutions”.

4.Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Here is a website that gives information for those who are pre-veterinary students, vet technicians, and anyone with hazardous material training that would be able to volunteer. The people who show up on scene need resources for lodging, food, and supplies so if you cannot donate your time you can donate money online.

Please do not attempt to clean up oil or handle wild animals without training and proper equipment. If you see an oiled animal call 1-866-557-1401. There are many different resources for you to help so do not risk doing it without support of one of these, or any other organizations.

More to come.....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Gulf Oil Spill

Right now we can not possibly imagine the long lasting effects of this devastating oil spill. I don't think anyone knows the extent to which our environment, wildlife species and regional economies will be effected by this but we can imagine. Take this for example, the oil slick is bigger than the size of Puerto Rico. Its headed towards the shore and should reach there within days.

It makes my stomach churn to know that this was a man made disaster. I realize it was an accident (although I never really do rule out conspiracy theories). Isn't it coincidental that this explosion happened within days of Obama's announcement that he would pursue more offshore drilling? Either way, whats done is done and now we must suffer the consequences. The carelessness with our planet is perpetual. Will we ever truly learn from our mistakes? When will we put our environment before our need for human necessity? Without a sustainable environment, there will be no use for oil because the human race will cease to exist. Does anyone get it? Right now its all short sightedness, quick profits, cheaper short term prices, etc. At what cost?

Well now there is no turning back. BP is asking the fisherman (who will all now be out of work) to help with cleanup efforts. The cleanup will be a very long term project probably costing in the billions. How much will BP have to pay? They have a liability cap of $75 million right now, will new legislation change that amount? Will BP do the right thing and pay for the entire cleanup regardless of how much it costs? Can the region actually be cleaned up properly? Or will the beaches and wildlife suffer indeterminably? These are all questions that will eventually be answered. In the meantime, here is a great blog that will keep you up to date on the latest developments.

And now a poignant quote taken from Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic Blog:

These wounds, these temperatures, these destructive weather patterns are symptoms of a planet in distress. At some point, those of us who see our relationship to the natural world as something more than mere economics—as something sacred—need to face up to the fact that our civilization is not taking this sacredness seriously enough. When do we ask ourselves: by what right do humans believe we can despoil the earth for every other species with impunity? By what self-love have we granted ourselves not just dominion over the earth but wanton exploitation of its every treasure?

Is there no point at which we can say: this is enough?