Friday, May 28, 2010

Environmental Disaster of Epic Proportions

Environmental Disaster of Epic proportions
Today I spent most of the day out in boats photographing the BP Oil Spill affected areas in South Louisiana. It was heartbreaking to say the least. As a nature photographer who has routinely tried to display the very best of nature in my images, this was difficult. To look around and see the potential beauty and as a scientist, realize the potential harm, my heart broke. I hear the stories of how the people here are being affected. Their livelihoods, their homes, their families, their beautiful backyard. They are angry and rightly so. As I watch Brown Pelicans on a rookery, some of their island was coated with oil. They are surrounded by “protective boom” to keep the oil out.. I wonder how they know to stay inside the boom. Were there training and information sessions for them on the dangers of sitting in oil slick water, or trying to scoop up fish from water full of oil, emulsified down into the water column? I think not. The boom I saw set out today was somewhat of a joke. Not maintained, not complete and any small chop blown up by wind can cross the boom and with the oil down under the surface, the boom prevents none of that.
And where is the clean up? In the past 3 days of looking around the epicenter of this ecological disaster, the only effort I have seen is the boom being placed. I have seen the presence of most of the agencies.. USFWS, USCG, Army Reserve, LA State Fish and Wildlife, but I haven’t seen the EPA around at all. I heard a story from one of the boat captains that 2 days ago shrimp trawlers were out in one of the bays going back and forth over oil that had been spray with dispersant. He asked one of his friends who was piloting one of the boats what they were doing. The reply was “breaking up the oil so it will sink”.. and this is considered CLEANUP? The government and President have said they are doing all they can to help, while there are thousands of volunteers waiting, being told that it is a liability if they get out there to help. The American people need to be told what is being done to start cleaning this up and to prevent any further encroachment of BP oil on American soil. We need to have confidence that our government is going full throttle, not rhetoric. Show us the evidence, show us your effort. You tell us you’re doing something, but I’ve been there in the heart of the disaster, and I don’t see it. We need to call our Congress representatives and tell them to get on the ball. We need to support organizations like Defenders of the Wildlife and National Wildlife Federation who are trying to help.


Linda bus driver said...

Thank you so much for this photo documentation and eyewitness report of the unfolding disaster. This is where the change is going to be forced -- at the grassroots level by people getting out the word and raising everyone to action and protest.
Please keep being the eyewitness to this crime.
I live in Seattle, Washington and was outraged to see very little coverage in our newspaper until recent days.
We must demand a permanent ban on offshore drilling and, in my opinion, the U.S. government should take over the oil industry, with control by workers in the industry and community where the oil is drilled; BP, Exxon, Shell etc. have proven to be too driven by greed and profits -- and have obviously used some of the money to buy our government's complicity!! The money could be used to expand mass transit and alternative energy, and other socially useful programs and projects.

Wendy said...

I so much appreciate your photo blog and first hand coverage of this "mess". You are covering it in depth and giving a jolly good overview. I am always an optomist, but this situation and it's lack of resolution, even after containment, fills me with anger and a sense of despair. We live on this precious little planet, the emerald of the universe, that is the only place we know that can support life in such an exquisite way, and because of money and greed, it is slowly being choked to death. I also live in the Pacific NW, where fortunately living "green" is a way of life for most of us. I suppose on the plus side this will be the "wake-up" call that is needed to teach people to be aware and actively participate in the health of this incredible planet, without which even the air to breathe, non of us would exist.