More Than Just An Oil Slick

The BP oil disaster. I can’t even begin to express how heartbroken I’ve been over it. It seems like every time I turn around, the situation is getting worse. There’s more oil, the flow can’t be stopped, the oil is reaching the shoreline, animals are dying…

The worst part, to me, is this feeling of complete helplessness. I looked into going down to Louisiana to help with clean-up efforts along the shore, and BP is refusing all non-local volunteers in order to avoid having to provide shelter. Beyond going down to Louisiana to help clean up, I can’t think of anything else I can do–there’s no action I can engage in to help stop the flow of oil, to staunch the leak, to hold in what’s already there. My planet is getting destroyed, my world is going to hell, and there is nothing I can do. But if nothing is done, the oil is going to go around Florida and make its way up the coast and out into the open ocean.

If you look at the image in that article, the distance that the oil is spread is huge. That’s an enormous amount of coastline. Even just all the ecological damage being done to the Gulf is huge. And here’s the thing–we get a lot of food from the southern regions of the US, and the oil is going to impact that. It’s going to get into the water, get into the plants that the animals will eat, and come down as acid rain. This spill isn’t just impacting the fishing industry; it’s impacting everything.

And now it’s worse. Again. Now it’s going to have reproductive effects. Feministing gives us a heads up that there are chemicals in both the oil and the dispersants that can impair fertility, or influence the development of a fetus. This spill is literally shaping our next generation. It will have effects that will trickle down for who knows how long. Like radiation from Chernobyl, the spill is altering us.

You don’t have to TOUCH the oil to feel the effects. This is much bigger than a potential increase in the price per gallon at your local gas station. All that stuff I said about how the oil and its related chemicals will travel through the entire system? Yep. That means you’ll end up eating or drinking those chemicals. It’s hard to say exactly how far those reproduction-mangling chemicals will travel, or how common or severe the effects will be. But do you really want to play Russian Roulette with this kind of thing?

I wish I had more of a sense of what we can do. For now, I’m working hard at trying to cut back on my use of all things oil-related, but a lot of this is hard–what do I replace my plastic kitchen trash bags with? When I buy bulk drygoods at the market, I have no option except to put them into the plastic baggies they provide (bringing containers from home would alter the weight measurement at the register) . Bread comes in plastic. Toothbrushes and razors in bubble packs. Seriously–think for a second about how much of the stuff you throw away is just packaging! Stuff that isn’t reusable, or recyclable, or anything. I recently saw a bag of chips that came in a compostable bag and I almost squealed with excitement. Unfortunately, my current living situation doesn’t allow for composting (my grandmother has been composting for as long as I can remember, and my sister does too. I’d love to join that bandwagon!).

For now, I’m doing my best to think about how I interact with the world around me–how to cut back on waste, how to be more energy efficient, and so on. Building good habits now will help keep those behaviors going even after the BP disaster is “over.” It’s never too late to start changing our ways to try to prevent history from repeating itself. There may be nothing we can do to stop what’s going on now, but we can do what we can to stop it from happening again and try to stop other disasters that we can’t currently imagine.

Remember, just because we think nothing will happen and we think we’re ready doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. After all, BP thought there was no possible way things could get this bad.

I want my future back. I am still waiting on my jetpack, dammit!

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06/15/2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized.

2 Comments

  1. Lisa@Practically Intuitive replied:

    I am so right with you. The feeling of hopelessness can be so overwhelming. I really can’t even take in the pics and reports (what few they are allowing out of there) because it throws me down into a well of despair.

    Remember that saying “Think globally, act locally”? That’s something we all can do – I try to recycle and buy products that come in recyclable packaging as I can. Just as you are doing. It won’t solve the big problems but bit by bit, it will add to the picture and it’s what we CAN do.

    Good post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Lisa

  2. H replied:

    I also feel helpless.

    You forgot to mention that the pollution from the spill will cause the rates of cancer, especially breast cancer and other female cancers to skyrocket (if it’s even possible for rates to skyrocket anymore than they’ve already been).

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