Thoughts on the Oil Spill

For those that don’t know me that well, I’m a Florida native, raised on the west coast my whole life. Much of my childhood and teen years were spent in or on the water – fishing, canoeing, hanging at the beach and everything in between. The Florida of my childhood is very much a distant memory due to the inevitable growth in population, however the beaches and bay still are very much special places. No matter how bad things seem to get, an afternoon wading the flats fishing or a day at the beach – watching porpoises bobbing along feeding in a channel, a manatee grazing on a grass bed a few feet away, seeing an osprey fly by with a whole mackerel clutched in its talons – and my day to day worries melt away and I’m reminded why I’ve never ventured far away from this part of the globe. (Note, I observed all three of those encounters just this past Friday and Saturday.

Now, all of this is in jeopardy due to an out of control oil rig out in the gulf, spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil a day with no end in sight. So far, luck has been on the people of the gulf’s side, with currents from the Mississippi keeping the oil stationary for the most part. However, we also know that this won’t last forever, and scientist warn that when, not if, the oil moves into the gulf currents, an environmental catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude will effect at least some portions of Florida, if not not the entire coast, possibly even getting caught in currents that move it all the way to the east coast. Even if this doesn’t directly impact the Tampa Bay area, the shear nature of the migratory aspect of many of the species of the gulf, the oil spill will ultimately have consequences on my beloved waters. And with hurricane season less than a month away, reports say the well might not be capped for several months, there’s no telling how a storm could effect things.

There has been much discussion the last few years about opening up Florida’s west coast to off shore drilling, including allowing rigs as close as 5 miles from shore. If this well had been that close, there wouldn’t even be discussion about where the effect would be felt. We’d be seeing scenes on the news very much like the ones from the Exxon Valdez accident – egrets and herons coated in oil, shores awash in dead fish and sea life bathed in globs of crude oil. That still very well may be played out somewhere along the coast. How in good conscience then could anyone support such a move? I think Bill Maher sums up my feelings on this the best.“Every asshole who ever chanted ‘Drill baby drill’ should have to report to the Gulf coast today for cleanup duty”. The facts are clear about how much oil is even in the gulf and how little benefit the U.S. would experience from such drilling, not to mention how far off in the future we would even see this minute impact. In that amount of time I think we can find an alternate energy source that would have less environmental impact and provide the same amount of energy.

There’s a joke making the rounds on Twitter today,

“Large Air Spill at Wind Farm. No threats reported. Some claim to enjoy the breeze.”

I’d certainly trade a thousand windmills silhouetting one of our picturesque sunsets to avoid another catastrophe such as this one. I’d just want assurances that Halliburton doesn’t have anything to do with them.

Author: Michael Bishop

I used to wash dishes, now I'm a digital plumber. Proud Tampa native. Public Interest technologist. Sports fan, music lover. he/him