“Please human kind wake up and realise the very real consequences of your each and every action. In today’s society it is not that ‘can we make a difference’…we do make a difference and therefore it is up to each and every one of us to decide what kind of difference that is going to be” ~ Julia Butterfly Hill.
Watching the news unfold on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blog out has been a dragged out and painfully prolonged catastrophe. It is truly sad, but pointless to direct blame, it will not speed up a solution to the problem or help reverse the environmental disaster that has left the shores, ocean and marshes tainted. But after weeks of seeing poor helpless birds, dolphins and sea creatures helpless and immersed in a thick sludge, unable to move and slowly being choked, suffocated and drowned in the slick, there is a little ray of hope. Only small but still a slither.
The released oil no longer constitutes a spill but more like patches of oil, little tarblobs, following a trajectory – spreading out across the sea with the tides and currents. It is hard to precisely imagine the spread of the oil gush but maybe it would help to equate it to the geography you are familiar with. This helped me visualise the contaminated area. It really puts into perspective what a huge cleanup operation this is going to be.
The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, my family have been regulars at Sarasota on the coast of Florida. I cannot imagine this area being overcome with mucky grime, the beach was so serene and looking out across the horizon made troubles just melt away. To see it become a part of the problem is just unthinkable.
If anything this disaster is a reminder of how fragile our ecosystems are and the impact we have on them. It is too late to consider risk management and safety measures, but not too late to learn for it. The media creates a grim picture of recovery but it’s also what is not seen that worries me. Food webs are very complex and effects on small organisms will funnel upwards to their predators, magnifying the effect. The full impact is impossible to determine right now and it is hard to know what’s going on in the murky depths and seabeds. Wetlands and mangrove swamps will become clogged with the tarballs as they lack the mechanical wave force to break up the oil – they are important for diffusing pollutants, as nesting sites for birds and spawning zones for fish. I guess you could say they are like the kidneys of the waterways.
There is more to this disaster than meets the eye but I live in hope that something can be done.