Friday, May 28, 2010

A Moment of Silence for the Earth

While I was totally aware of the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon on April 22, 2010 I have come late to the total scope of this disaster. Perhaps we all have. We were so willing to write it off as just another oil spill. But now it is officially our largest ever.

It is only within the last couple of days as the reality of the volume of the oil spill upon the waters of the Gulf of Mexico has reached the news, despite BP's efforts to minimize coverage of this event, that I am becoming fully aware of the horror of this. It isn't just the pictures of the oil slicked dying birds, or the soiled beaches I have walked upon in better days. It is the screams of the earth as the ecological microcosms of salt marshes and bayous are chocked off from oxygen and life which are such a disturbance in the force for me.

A cycle of birth and renewal begins in the shallow waters and inlets of the delta of Louisiana - or did. There are the things we can name like crayfish and clams and oysters and crabs and shrimp. And the things which are so tiny we are not aware of them - a veritable soup of amoeba and protozoa and micro-organisms which are the basis for a food chain like the tiny krill that feed the huge whales in Antarctica.  Without the marshes the sea dies.

The Gulf of Mexico is the 10th largest body of water on our planet. It comprises 582,000 square miles of sea water and coasts from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to the Florida Keys. Those that think this is just a few birds which have to be washed with Dawn are fooling themselves. The oil on the surface also decreases the exchange of water vapor between the sea and the atmosphere where clouds build to bring rain. Oil upon the waters disrupts oxygen exchange and because it is dark it effects the reflection of light and the penetration of that light below the surface where phytoplankton live. And given the size of the Gulf of Mexico and the spill which continues it is bound to effect climate and ecology of the area and the world for years into the future. And I am not even taking into effect the black smoke coming from the oil fires BP has set in an attempt to burn it before it reaches shore.

And all because of too many people that want to live life as they have always lived it and oil companies that are willing to cut corners to give us what we don't require - just want - at a price that lines their pockets.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thank you BP

I was in the pristine Colorado Plateau area of Utah when the full extent of this ecological disaster hit. And when the oil rig blew I was into one of my "ignore the bad news" phases. 

Throughout my vacation and the subsequent period after it I only got bits and pieces of this disaster. And BP's inability to cope with it. I think on some level I was on an "oh, here we go again" level. But this is not just another Exxon Valdez oil spill.

This morning I went to a link I found on Facebook and actually looked at what is happening. The oil has it the Louisiana Shores, marshes and bayous.

We can drill for oil in deep water but our oil companies seem totally unprepared for clean up when their ill-thought safety measures fail. They have been going for the big payoffs and record breaking profits hoping the worst never happens. Well, the worst has. Safety measures either did not exist or failed. And how to stop the spill was not thought out fully. Equipment needed to stem the flow was not easily available.

Part of BP's solution for the oil on our waters is to burn it and pollute our skies. Isn't it the emissions from automobiles that have been most harmful to our ozone? And the greatest cause of global warming?

So this plume of black oil smoke is like 400 idling diesel buses in front of the white marble US Capital. Only it is not just darkening the marble (eating it with the acidity in the smoke) but joining the trade winds and changing not just the weather in the gulf but the entire world.

Meanwhile the grasses and marshes and bayous along the coastal areas just recovering from Katrina are being devastated by oil.

We all are familiar with images of oil coated birds. Ecologists have developed techniques for rescuing and washing those hardest hit, but we have never dealt with an oil spill this large or this extensive in its reach due to tides and winds. Green plants scrub out air - the air burning oil is polluting. This marsh grass will die.

And all the small creatures which contribute to the ecology of this area will die. This is just one you can see and identify. There are thousands and thousands of other almost microscopic creatures coated with oil.

I read a comment by a friend on Facebook which compared this disaster to Chernobyl. Remember the melt down of the nuclear energy plant in Russia? I think he was just nipping at the edge of how bad this could be. They contained Chernobyl. This is not contained. It has hit the loop current and will hit the Gulf Stream. We will be living with this mistake on the part of an oil company for decades.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Memories of a Dawn Walk on Biloxi Beach

Biloxi Beach before Katrina and major oil spill

I was combing my photographic files for a suitable picture to enter in an on line photo contest and came upon this on taken on a dawn stroll along a empty beach. My sister and I took our first Thelma and Louise Road Trip on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. We traveled from Houston, Texas to Pensacola, Florida taking the coastal roads as much as possible. When Katrina hit this area I cried for days every time there was a news item. 

Most of those focused on New Orleans but I could only think of the more coastal areas: the beaches and bayous and marsh lands that are the bridges between land and the sea. The winds and tidal surge and scouring waves devastated this area. An online friend of mine recently posted pictures of some of these areas which have yet to recover from Katrina. Now these same areas and the wild life that inhabit them are being coated with black oil because of the waste and greed and corporate irresponsibility of man.

I can forgive Katrina, she was a product of the mysteries of nature. But I cannot forgive BP and Haliburton.