It is not usually my habit of injecting my opinion into articles. I prefer to report facts regarding innovations in the field of alternative energy; however recent discussions and current events have forced me to revise that position.
This small spaceship which we call Earth is danger, not from a foreign invader, but from actions of man. The very thing that makes this planet different from those that are uninhabited is the presence of water. Opponents of drilling in the oceans have warned that an “accident” would occur and it would seem that they were correct. Now we are facing a disaster. A disaster of a scale that many have not yet fully come to terms with.
Oil is escaping at a rate that has been underreported. Estimates change each time more information is received from surveys conducted at the scene of the leak. It was recently reported that the equivalent of an Exxon Valdes spill is being released into the Gulf of Mexico every four days.
The environmental impact of this is staggering. Reports are coming in of the mounting death toll to sea turtles, dolphins and other aquatic life. Chemicals being used to dissolve the oil are reported to be hazardous to ocean dwelling creatures, adding to the number killed.
As the oil comes ashore, coastal habitats, that are the nesting areas for birds, will be destroyed. Many species of fish lay their eggs in the waters beneath the mangrove trees that line the coast.
Currents circulate water in the Gulf of Mexico southward, which will bring the oil along the coast of Florida and into the Florida Keys. From there, the current flows into the Caribbean Sea. Beaches that are among the most beautiful in the country and the world will feel the effects of this spill for centuries. The gin clear waters of the Florida Keys and the Caribbean Sea will be but a memory. Take lots of pictures, people ,and we can tell our grandchildren about what we lost and how beautiful it was.
This is a disaster, not just in terms of the environment, but the economic effect will be a catastrophe. Marine life, if any survive, will be unsafe to eat, impacting the fishing industry. The seafood industry along the Gulf coast will come to screeching halt. Businesses dependent on the seafood industry will also suffer. Marinas, packing houses, distributors and bait shops, to name a few, will close.
All along the Gulf Coast, sport fishing is big business. The list of affected businesses is extensive; charter boat captains will lose clients, the marinas where the charter boat captain docked will be empty, restaurants that fed those clients, hotels where the clients stayed and rental car companies, to name a few.
Tourism is another huge industry along the Gulf Coast. Tourists from around the world and the US come for the white sands and gentle Gulf of Mexico waters. There are already reports of some cancellations in advance of an oil spill strike along the coast.
It is amazing to think that in order to save $500,000, the price of the emergency shutoff device, this could have been avoided.
There are still people talking about continuing to drill, not just in the Gulf of Mexico, but off the coast of northern Alaska.
Proponents of drilling say, but look, everything we use is made from petroleum, food is packaged in plastic, the bags we use at the supermarkets, lawn chairs, drinking cups and list goes on and on. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the use of these containers can be hormonal disruptors.
Yes, everything does appear to be made of oil. We, as humans, have painted ourselves into a corner. Perhaps this event, which highlights the corner into which we have painted ourselves, will be the impetus that sparks the necessary ingenuity for the creation of inventions that lead the change from an oil based society to one utilizing earth friendly products. I have been told that we need to slowly transition away from oil. Right! As long as there is an ounce of oil to be pumped out of the ground, the easier course is to continue along the same destructive path we are now on. Only after an emergency will something be done. Well, I think that emergency has come.
I was asked the other day if I felt that all drilling offshore should stop. My answer is yes. The next question is:” well, what we will substitute to manufacture all these petroleum based products?” I answered honestly, I don’t know. I do know that we have some of the most brilliant minds on the planet in this country and an answer is out there. I also did what I usually do when I don’t know the answer; I looked it up on the internet. Wouldn’t you know it the answer came from a group of people who have for centuries lived a simple life? The The Quakers realize the hazards of petroleum based products and offer alternatives. Check out their website addressing the problem and their solutions here.
As far as the production of electrical power, alternatives already exist. Companies here in the United States are working on wind, solar and my favorite, wave power.
There is hope that the leak in the Gulf can be contained and I hope it can. It is a wakeup call and we must take action now.