May 5, 2010

Try hiding your head in oil slick sand. ~ Janet Auty-Carlisle

Fort Jackson to southeast of New Orleans, has an animal rescue operation that just might get very busy very soon. On Friday, April 30 a bird was found offshore, normally known to be white with a yellow head, only this young Northern Gannet was covered in thick black slick oil. They’re making preparations in the Gulf towns of Mississippi too, such as at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, checking equipment, machines and supplies.

Dr. Moby Solangi, director of the non-profit center, says that this is birthing season for approximately 5,000 dolpins who live along the coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana. The natural miracle coinciding with the tragic spill is unavoidable.

How is it possible that scientists, researchers and veterinarians at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi have the capacity to prepare for a major oil disaster in anticipation of the possible arrival of hundreds of oily sea mammals while BP, the company behind the leaking oil deepwater drilling site, maintained that this very event was unlikely to happen?

According to an article in the Toronto Star May 1, 2010, BP filed a plan with the federal Minerals Management Service for the Deepwater Horizon well which was dated February 2009. The plan repeatedly says that it was “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.” BP further states that, while they concede a spill would “cause impacts” to beaches, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, it argued that, “due to the distance to shore and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected.”

How is it possible that small non-profit centers were able to anticipate such an event, have the tools to clean up afterward and be proactive in their response while a multi-billion dollar industrial leader was not able to hold such fortitude and foresight?

How is it possible that, in this day and age, this era of enlightenment about our beloved Mama Earth, the industries that fuel our homes, our cars, our factories are still able to create havoc with no back up plan? Geez, you can’t even suggest that we go hide our head in the sand on this one because it’d be covered in oil before long.

What’s the problem? What’s the solution? From my perspective, here goes:

What’s the problem? No consequences for bad behaviour.

Who is being held accountable when events like this happen? The animals can’t speak for themselves, at least not in a way that we are able to understand yet, so they rely on we humans to be their spokespersons.

How are we doing on that one? Pretty good—there are many groups trying to spread the word, share information, tell stories about environmental impacts and I applaud their efforts. We’ve come a long way, but not far enough.

On the other side, we have “big business” covering their ears and opening their mouths with words like “no this won’t happen here” and “no, there’s no problem here, we’ve got it covered.” Really? Seriously? No adverse impact is expected if there’s an underground explosion on an oil deepwater drilling site? What did they think would happen? I’m guessing, just me of course, that there probably was a lot of discussion about this very issue and a few others as well and then, in service to the shareholders who must be compensated with profits despite all the dangers, the decision was made to go ahead anyway and cross their corporate fingers that nothing would happen. At the time of writing this article BP shares had bottomed out, started to rise when there was talk of an oil shortage due to this catastrophe and then seemed to even out as the focus was shifted from the oil spill to, gasp, bigger issues including economic crises in Europe.

What’s going to be the result of this oil spill? Financially, billions of dollars in clean up, lost revenue, damage to property, and environmentally, who knows? It took years before the Exxon Valdez mess was cleared up and the toll it took on the natural resources was pretty steep.This latest oil spill is even larger than the Exxon Valdez spill and will surely cause more damage. According to charter boat captain Dan Dix, in Venice, Louisiana, “the biggest concern is that the oil comes in and settles in on the cane. Once it settles it destroys the cane…” He goes on to explain that this leads to the shrimp being killed which leads to fish who eat shrimp being killed and if you kill the fish then “there is nothing left in the Gulf of Mexico. That would absolutely be a disaster for years and years. ”

And, in an odd twist, Brendan Kirby of the Press Register reports that BP and the gulf fishermen who have offered to help assist with the monumental task of cleaning up this mess have reached an accordance with regard to the signing of waivers to take part in the clean up.

“BP PLC is backing off attempts to get potential oil spill victims to sign away their rights to sue over this month’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After being handed a 38-page document “filled with legalese” when he signed up to help, George Barisich took the document to his lawyer for review. The lawyers came to the conclusion that any volunteers would have been prevented from suing over any damages from the spill or any injuries during the clean up.

BP’s officials responded to this document stating “the original legal waiver was characterized as a mistake. As soon as we were alerted to it, we took the clause out” says BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams in London.

Hey, BP, what’s it like to try and hide your head in the sand when it’s covered with yucky, slimy oil?

Janet Auty-Carlisle calls herself the chief elephant trainer at Living la Vida Fearless Coaching Services. She uses the metaphor of the elephant for her work, as Jan knows a thing or two about elephants. A thriver of incest, a mis-diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease for seven years, a collapsed business and the murder of a dear friend have certainly created some big obstacles. She believes in the strength of the human spirit. Jan is a mom to two “kids” now 27 and 23 who are following their passions in life through travel and music. Jan has been married for almost 31 years—a blessing for sure. Her husband is a fire fighter who loves to play guitar and travel. Now that the kids have begun their own journeys in life Jan finds herself being owned by two husky dogs, Kiera and Kieva, who are kind enough to share the house with her. She has worked in the banking industry, had a home day care business, owned a very successful relocation business and written many books, and it’s all led her to coaching. Email her at: [email protected]

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