The day the sea turned black

Two summers ago I was living in South Beach, caught up, like many people, in my own life. But then the Macondo Well started gushing day after day, and I would never really be the same.

It was a never-ending horror that went on for months, and still is causing mass murder, destruction and heartbreak.

At the time, I thought it was unprecedented, and indeed it is thus far the largest oil spill ever. But it was by no means the first big spill. The Exxon Valdez spill is well known, but there have been dozens of spills around the world in the past century (most recently, in Alberta, Canada). There is even one in the Gulf of Mexico that started in 2004 and continues to this day.

The images of oil-covered birds, crabs, turtles, fish and dolphins were so very sad. Fishermen committed suicide. People lost a way of living that had been their passion and their income for generations; many got sick. I felt devastated and helpless, and also afraid. The NOAA predicted that the slicks could reach our beaches, turning my slice of paradise into a giant mess. It didn’t, but that did happen to the sugary white powdered shoreline along the gulf and the Floridian east coast.

Then they went and made things exponentially worse by dumping the ultra-toxic Corexit. Now, fisherman are pulling in shrimp with no eyes and crabs and fish with lesions.

Soon, Shell Oil will begin drilling in the fragile Arctic environment. Let’s hope we don’t have to witness another horror show.

Deepwater Horizon. Such a beautiful name for such a terrible monstrosity. But that’s a common trick in corporate America (check out Wordcraft to see how, for example, the pharmaceutical industry dresses up its poisons with pretty sounding names and connotations).

Obama has a mixed track record on environmental concerns. But, when so much of government is controlled by big business, and when so many people are stuck in a certain mindset and way of living, it is hard to overhaul the system that is causing global warming, epic habitat loss, ocean acidification and large scale species decimation.

I recently watched a great documentary I recommend called Ethos which explores who is really in charge and how the media manipulates public opinion and national conversation. We are all so distracted from the real issues. It encourages us to ‘vote with our dollars,’ and I suppose that’s a start. Is it enough?

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