Posted by: kennyt212 | August 5, 2010

Keeping Watch Over the Gulf: That is a Wrap (or is it?)

Hello again friends,

Quick quiz!!

Question 1) 25% of 4.9 million is what???

A: One million, two hundred twenty five thousand!!

Question 2) Why is that number important?

A: Well, according to scientist/experts, that’s how many barrels of oil are still remaining in the Gulf of Mexico (multiply by 42 to get the gallon total)!!

Question 3) What does this number mean???

A: Well, I think that depends on who is involved in the conversation!!!

Some reports and analysts claim that there is very little risk of harm and very little concern about the remaining oil.  On the contrary, talking to people on the Gulf Coast, including the ones we had on our conference call yesterday, there is still oil coming onto the coasts, and there is still reason to feel concerned.  Regardless of how you look at though, this oil spill is bad enough that I don’t think there is anyone who can disagree with our need move forward not forget about what has happened!!  To put it another way, what’s remaining is still four times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill!!

Anyway, that was just a little fun to make sure you were on your toes, thinking and paying attention!

Indeed, though, what an interesting week this has been! Sometimes, it seems like if you stop following the oil spill for a day or so, you can miss a lot.  That’s what it feels like when I stop blogging for a little while, anyway.  There is so much I wanted to share throughout the week, but I withheld in order to make sure I kept information about the Oil Spill conference call in plain view (little aside-if you missed this last call and wanted to be included on the next one, please email Rachel (RBCohen@rac.org)).

With that said, I want to forewarn you now that I will packing a lot of information into this blog, not just because there are a lot of updates but because this will be my last post for the time being 😦 .  I’m sure (and hope) there will be future posts about the oil spill, just probably not from me.

My “timing” with ending this blogging isn’t too bad actually considering that Congress, as of the end of today, will officially be in recess for five weeks.  With Harry Reid earlier this week saying that he will withhold debate on the oil spill legislation until after this long break, August is going to turn out to be a very interesting month (as if it hasn’t been already…).  We’ll all be on hold and remaining optimistic about oil spill/climate change/energy legislation being passed after Congress returns from recess, hoping that other issues such as “Ethics” trials and upcoming November elections don’t become too much of  a distraction. We’ll also be keeping an eye on the weather, as August is the peak of hurricane season.  Hopefully the relief well will be in place soon!

To keep this final blog as brief and to the point as possible, I’m going to highlight key discussion points surrounding the oil spill and provide a couple links that I think are worthy of exploring.  Then I will close with some thoughts/reflections. Like I said, I know it’s a lot, but I think it’s interesting, relevant, and somewhat unique (besides, wouldn’t you rather read this than all the other news articles out there?):

–A new report from NOAA about the “state of the climate” is out: more evidence that global warming is increasing in severity (just an aside-global warming isn’t necessarily a BAD thing-without it, the Earth would be unlivable (~0 degrees Fahrenheit).  It’s just, when we “take it too far,” then it becomes harmful).  This news, along with an EPA report, can hopefully serve as an encouragement for climate change legislation to be passed sooner rather than later (as if more motivation was needed).

–DISPERSANTS:  Earlier this week, the EPA released a report on their second study of dispersants.  The results have created mixed responses (i.e. see blog below) and have opened the door to the dispersant debate even more. Some argue that the EPA study is encouraging; others argue that it’s misleading because it didn’t address medium/long-term effects or address the interesting report that dispersants were discovered in the larvae of blue crab. Honestly, I think the answer is somewhere in between.  Indeed, these scientific studies do take time, so new results on something that recently came up (the blue crab) can’t necessarily be determined tomorrow.  Yet more research does need to be done, especially since there are still areas of uncertainty and questions that remain.  At the same time though, how good are our perceptions and ability to determine risks?

–DÉJÀ VU: As if the Gulf oil spill wasn’t enough, there’s been another one recently in Michigan!  Again, we’re seeing some of the same issues that occurred with the Deepwater Horizon incident.  As always seems, there’s more where these oil spills come from (the “Dirty Dozen”).

–LESSONS LEARNED: After all the warning signs that have been (and keep being) overlooked, there’s still drilling in Brazil, plans to drill in Libya, and…what? There are oil spills in NYC too??

–THE FUTURE:  There are many things to keep an eye on, particularly regarding the legislation that has been postponed until after recess (climate change, energy, and of course oil spill response).  Other big areas of concern include the legal compensation to all the victims, the amount that BP will pay in penalties, and the “Fund” that Feinberg is running.  Will it be fair?? What exactly will the total costs be?? How long will it take till they are all paid?  More importantly (and personally, I think this is probably one of the BIGGEST topic overlooked in this ordeal): how can make sure that oil rig workers (and others) feel comfortable speaking out about violations they see in the work place (since many complained about conditions on the Deepwater Horizon prior to the explosion)??

–Lastly, here is a great blog that I wish I had shared earlier.  Even though a lot these entries focus on environmental health concerns (TSCA, etc.), there’s a lot of great discussion about the oil spill, particularly the dispersant aspect of the issue (referenced above).

Concluding thoughts:

It can be easy to be discouraged with what’s happening in the Gulf Coast, but as a person of faith, and as a naturally optimistic person (J), I always try to find ways to be grateful and encouraged by all that has happened.  As hard as it might seem, God uses everything for good, and it’s important for us to give thanks in everything, regardless of our circumstances or how we feel.  Here is a list of things that we can be thankful for (and I’m sure there are more):

The oil spill wasn’t closer to land (imagine if had been); oil breaks down via natural processes and the Gulf is indeed a huge body of water; hurricane season has held off so far– the first two storms we’ve had weren’t as bad as they come have been or as bad as some predicted they would be; hardworking people who have spent countless hours cleaning up the mess and willing to put themselves in harm’s way; Tony Heyward and BP have made a bunch of PR mistakes, making it easier to hold them and the other oil companies accountable and liable for the losses; Our Creator is a God of second chances, and it is NEVER TOO LATE to take care of Creation!

So, as I finish up this blog, I have to ask myself-is this an end or a beginning, or somewhere in between?

I don’t know.  I know for me, despite the fact I will be taking a break from the NCC/oil spill for a while, this is definitely not the end of the issue for me, not by a long shot.

Thanks again for following and thanks for all your support (ie: signing petitions, participating in our conference calls, etc.). I know that I have shared A LOT of information, so I appreciate you taking the time to read it, and I hope it has been encouraging and insightful in some way.

Please continue to keep the Gulf Coast (among other things) in your prayers and thoughts.  And, don’t forget to save the date: October 3rdA Day of Worship, Prayer and Action (even though everyday should be a day of worship, prayer, and action).

Stay strong, remain “poor in spirit, rich in faith” and please keep in touch!!

P.S. You knew I wasn’t done yet, right? Indeed, one last item to share-“BP America’s Photostream” (no, BP did not use Photoshop this time…at least to my knowledge…then again, who really knows….)

PPS: Last thing (I promise!)–I like how this article compares the oil spill to everyday items such as soda cans and Hummers (see the bottom left corner)-makes the issue more visible.

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