Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So much for the coral

In the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill this summer, we saw indelible images, such as pelicans covered in oil, Gulf Coast fishermen waiting anxiously to see if they'll make enough to survive or at least get compensated, and of course the dolphin that died screaming in pain as workers tried frantically to clean the oil from it.

It doesn't end there, unfortunately.  Or as American commerce might phrase it: "But wait!  There's more!"
Scientists from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have discovered a massive swath of undersea coral that is either dead or dying.  The area is located a mere seven miles from the BP leak.  While officials admit that there is no concrete evidence to link the spill to the die-off, the proximity of the coral to the spill and the timing of the mass death make BP the obvious suspect.  
"Big deal," you might say?  "It's just coral."  Well, coral serves a function to the sea life of the area.  The sea life of the area serves a function to the fishermen of the Gulf.  In short, it's not just tree-hugging environmentalism concerned here, it's people's jobs and livelihoods.  I'd also consider shrugging off the coral deaths as a form of "speciesism," meaning the viewpoint that the human species is the only one that deserves to survive.  Yeah.  See how far that gets us.

I just keep thinking back to the aerial views of the spill, the amorphous blot with the technicolor oil sheen, spreading outward and acquiring new nodes of sea life before moving on to the next.  With all the oil we've spilled and all the radiation that has leaked from sunken nuclear submarines like The Kirsk, I can't help but wonder if we'll one day be attacked by giant mutant sea otters or the like. 
That could be the best case scenario.  We'll probably be drinking our tap water with a spoon soon enough if our attitudes don't change.



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