Monday, August 2, 2010

Despoiled by Oil

We all know the facts about the BP oil spill that occurred on April 20, after an explosion that took the lives of eleven workers. As awful as the initial incident was, it was to become infinitely worse; one hundred and five days later, it has been reported that over 200 million gallons of crude oil have spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling the water, killing wildlife and damaging an entire ecosystem.
I can’t begin to articulate the horror and dread I feel as I try to process the news related to this tragedy.

Even though the damaged well is reportedly all but capped now, the terrible effects on our environment will continue to be on-going. While some recent reports tout the headline that the “surface” oil is now greatly diminished, anyone with a brain will understand that the toxic crude, as well as the poisons used to “disperse” it, have become deeply involved in the water column, and that the food chain of sea-life found in the Gulf has been seriously compromised. In addition to the poisonous oil gushing into the water these past four months, 1.8 million gallons of toxic oil dispersant has been sprayed over the surface of the Gulf by BP and now, toxic plumes thirty miles long and seven miles wide are churning under the surface of the Gulf. Many of the animal populations that live in this body of water will be tainted for the foreseeable future.

As much as I would like to do all that I can in this bad economy to support the fishing industry of our southern states, I have started to check my seafood purchases to ensure that they do not originate in the Gulf. My health and the health of my family and friends, is too important to put at risk by serving them seafood from the Gulf. Think this attitude is reactionary or too extreme? Then consider this: Scientists have confirmed that a toxic residue of oil and chemical dispersants have been detected under the shells of blue crab larvae sampled from the Gulf of Mexico. It is a fact that the great Tuna schools of the Atlantic Ocean have their beginnings in nurseries found in the Gulf of Mexico. If the tiny fish are exposed to the poisonous mix of oil and dispersant, they will not survive. Worried about consuming mercury from eating big fish? I predict you ain't seen nothin' yet. Canned tuna is now considered a staple in many low-income diets. I believe it will soon become an expensive luxury as the schools dwindle and the great fish become scarce.

Yesterday I sat staring out at Green Harbor from the south coast of Massachusetts, admiring the pale green sea. As I gazed at the gentle waves lapping the white sand, I thought of the plankton and krill drifting in the Gulf and wondered how this food chain staple, the foundation of all sea-life in the Gulf could possibly avoid becoming completely contaminated.

What about the manatees, dolphins, green turtles, jellyfish and sea birds that live or breed in the waters of the Gulf? We currently have no idea how these creatures will be affected. As the naturalist John Muir said: "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
How much more abuse can this fragile planet of ours endure? The full extent of the fallout from this environmental catastrophe I fear will be felt by all of us for many decades to come. We've known since the seventies that our addiction to fossil fuels is a dangerous and ultimately doomed folly. When will we get serious enough about it to go cold turkey and get into rehab? The time is long past to develop wind, water and solar power. We have squandered four decades - how much more time will we waste?


  1. Excellent post Deedee. It breaks my heart to see images of the affected wildlife on the news and, as you point out, they are only the ones we can see...... the damage spreads all the way through the ecosystem.

    I think you are completely right and sensible to check the source of the food you are buying.

    The sooner this kind of tragedy becomes a thing of the past, the better.

  2. A very true quote from John Muir..that's why we can be sure that the course of things has changed completely for so many species since the spill. And on and on...

  3. Also breaks my heart - I feel that the oil exploration coys. should be much more heavily penalised when this type of thing occurs, in fact, they should be prevented from drilling the sea-bed full stop.
    Hugs Sue/Western Australia who is soon to visit All of the New England Area for a wonderful holiday.

  4. Hi Deedee, just popping in to wish you a good weekend.... well, it's still only Thursday but never mind. :O)

  5. Hi DeeDee! You were missed indeed! I've been away since May, not a lot of internet time at the lake, so I'm home and getting caught up! I do so wonder what is becoming of our planet - everything is messed up and we collectively are to blame. Time to wake up and reassess our priorities. I used to live not far from the Gulf and the whole tragic scene there hurts my heart!

  6. Deedee, I hope you pop in and see this:

    Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year to you and yours! :)