May 31, 2010
Decades later, how has the ecology of coastal Saudi Arabia recovered from the largest oil spill in history?
May 30, 2010
At least two more oil spill cleanup workers have been hospitalized after feeling ill on the job, according to local shrimpers who are assisting in the recovery effort along the Gulf Coast. The workers complained of nausea, headaches and dizziness after low-flying planes applied chemical dispersants within one mile of operating cleanup vessels.
May 29, 2010
May 26, 2010
May 4, 2010
You’ve decried environmentalism for the arrogance of its proponents and echoed the claim of many others that the planet can take care of itself. If Michael Crichton could be indicted for one crime against fiction it should be for the idiot words of his idiot self-manifestation as a genius, Ian Malcolm, and punished by being forced to hear the phrase repeated by everyone who ever has. Of course the planet will go on. Of course life finds a way. That’s not really the question. The question that most environmentalists are interested in answering is who or what is responsible for how the earth and its systems, biological and otherwise, are changing. This is the first time in the history of the earth that changes to the extent at which they’re being recorded can, in most cases, be directly attributed to an inhabitant of the planet.
You underestimate our power as a species. We’re not just another primate in a long line. We’re the pinnacle of animal intelligence with a thirst for knowledge and dominance, and why not sate that impulse, who or what could possibly stop us? We have reshaped the very face of earth with massive tools, bending the forests and waters to our every whim, constantly reinventing and refining our perceptions with each passing age gaining more and more freedom for the individual. We are no longer beholden to any god if we so choose. Call arrogance by its proper name; call it humanity.
May 3, 2010
Every year since that vacation, I've gone to the Gulf coast at least once every year for the past 35 years. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. I get up early and walk on the beach at sunrise, watching the horizon over the water gradually turn a vivid pink. I sit out by the surf for hours, listening to the dull roar of the waves meeting the sand. I walk barefoot on sand that looks like sugar, watching birds flit in and out of the water. I visit nature preserves, wetlands, and barrier islands to hunt for unique plants, animals, and shells. During my long years as a pretty strict vegetarian, I always made an exception on my Gulf trips to gorge on shrimp and scallops. After all, as Bubba in Forrest Gump said, "shrimp are fruit of the sea" so maybe I wasn't cheating too much.
Many years ago while staying at a small cottage on a barrier island, I got up early, poured a cup of coffee, and headed down to the beach to watch the sun rise. I saw a woman rooting around in the plants in between the buildings and she frantically gestured to me as I walked by. She was holding a tiny loggerhead sea turtle hatchling; it had become confused by the hotel lights and instead making a beeline straight for the water after clawing its way out of its shell, it had headed towards the bright streetlights that are only supposed to guide people. I picked it up and held it, a tiny creature that fit comfortably in the palm of my hand. It seemed so fragile. Yet, the species has been around for 150 million years and survived the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs. That moment, holding a sea turtle in my hand, contemplating the link between me and this ancient seafaring creature, was the beginning of my true interest in biology and the interaction between all living things.
Because I love the coast, its creatures, and the seafood so much, I have watched in growing horror as oil spills out of the deep sea well in the Gulf and towards the fragile coast. I wish I had time to visit just once more before oil coats my favorite spots, kills the wildlife, and ruins the seafood industry. Now, instead of planning for my next trip to loaf on the beach, eat, and relax, I'm now planning a trip to clean up oil. Just before starting to write this post I read an article about how some experts are expecting the oil to not only impact the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and western Florida, they're now mentioning a much wider impact. Some are saying the oil is creeping near the Gulf Stream, which will whisk the oil all along the entire Florida Gulf coast, then around the peninsula to the eastern seaboard.
I don't understand the technical issues involved in the oil industry, but I do know that no amount of oil we get from wells in the Gulf will ever make up for the environmental and economic disaster unfolding before our eyes. This spill has the potential to decimate the fishing and tourism industries for years, not to mention the impact on the critical wetland estuaries and coastal ecosystems. Is drilling offshore, with the potential for more disasters in other coastal areas that rely on seafood and tourism, really worth it? Before this accident I was fairly ambivalent about offshore drilling. After all, we need oil, and getting it domestically is better than buying it from the Middle East. But this accident has pushed me from ambivalence to fervent opposition to an industry that has shown so little foresight and planning to deal with this accident. No plan B. No plan C. No plan D. The corporations responsible for this are flailing wildly in the dark. Their lack of planning and disdain of regulations designed to prevent accidents like this will be in my mind for years.
In the end, BP, TransOcean, Halliburton, and other oil contractors aren't going to pay the price for this disaster. We will.