I feel sick. Completely sick. The oil is creeping toward my home in Alabama as I write this, and it is breaking my heart.
I grew up in one of the most beautiful places. Fairhope, Alabama. Barrier islands, bays, rivers, creeks, and the Gulf were all my playing grounds. At 7 years old, I was packing my lunch and spending the whole day exploring them in my little 13 foot boat. All the beautiful trees, wildlife and pristine waters, all will see the thick black and red oil dispersant within these next days. It brings a deeper ache than I can express.
As I flew out to the spill last Friday with my father (he’s a pilot), I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to witness. Here are some notes I took during the flight as we approached the source of this disaster:
“We are starting to smell oil...the pungent smell burns my nostrils and I feel nauseated to the core of my being….oh my God…streaks of oil are everywhere…thick black near the well…it is crude oil and it stretches as far as I can see…I am sick…I can’t feel my own body or distinguish any of my feelings right now… this is the worst and most saddening situation I have ever seen in my life…The boats are randomly skewn about, and they are so disorganized! The cleanup efforts look completely haphazard and ineffective. It is utter chaos down there! Boats randomly placed pulling booms, swirling the oil around in circles! I really don’t feel alive right now…this is a horrible dream…why the heck are we drilling offshore - we don't need to drill offshore!”
It was so much worse than I could have ever imagined and not even close to what the media has been portraying. I couldn’t even take it all in. I saw miles and miles of crude oil pouring from the Earth’s core to the ocean’s surface and then it proceeded to move eerily and ominously with the current toward my home. Before I even registered sadness, tears poured down my face. My entire body cried. I felt so helpless looking down at that uncontainable and chaotic mess. I will never be able to clear that picture from my mind.
This disaster could have been prevented, yet it wasn’t due to BP’s own negligence and a weak national energy policy. What’s outrageous is that BP is doing everything they can to avoid assuming responsibility for this spill. How dare they try and sidestep responsibility for one of the worst, quite probably the worst disaster in the Gulf’s history?!?!?!
BP was able to tiptoe around doing an environmental impact statement, and look at what we got. Over 4 million gallons of crude oil destroying the Gulf coast, innumerable wildlife habitats, crippling local economies - this is destroying my home. This is a sure sign that oil companies indeed have enormous influence over our government and dictate our country's energy policy.
The time of giveaways and loose regulation of the oil industry must end. I hope with all my heart that this disaster will be a wakeup call. Things must change. Congress needs to ban offshore drilling and President Obama needs to provide unwavering support to end offshore drilling. Please talk to your friends. Talk to your neighbors. Start organizing yourselves. If we continue on our current path of carelessly extracting fossil fuels like oil and coal, rather than harnessing clean, renewable energy like wind power, we will see many more tragedies like the Deepwater Disaster.
From the disaster zone,
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Wrightsville Beach, NC USA
Brinkley is the Greenpeace Campus Coordinator at University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
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