Friday, May 28, 2010

Disturbance in the Force


I was remarking to a friend recently that the month of May was lost. I am shocked to find that in a few short days it will be over. By lost I mean in the scheme of the normal flow of my life. There was vacation and visit from friend and then the death of my brother-in-law. So 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.

In fact, 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 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.

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