Posted by: Mike Dunmyer
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the most devastating environmental disaster of our time, and we may never understand its full impact. One of the greatest traits of the American people, however, is that when we are challenged by extreme circumstances, we fight back relentlessly. This spirit is going to be needed in both the short term and the long term as we respond to the devastation in the Gulf.
Here are some of the things you can start doing today:
1. Change Starts at Home
It’s easy to focus on the obvious villains in the BP disaster – BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and of course, the Minerals Management Service – but that misses an underlying driver. We consume 20% of the world’s oil, which is simply too much. About half of that oil is used to move people around day to day in planes, trains and automobiles. If we’re going to prevent disasters like the BP Gulf gusher in the future, we’ve got to reduce the demand for oil. This means switching to public transportation, walking, and biking much more often. It means dumping SUV’s for higher mileage vehicles like hybrids and compacts to lessen the impact of the trips we must take.
Making lifestyle changes involves personal sacrifice, and some inconvenience, but until we do so on a large scale, we’ll always be at risk. The only way that happens is if everyone believes they’re personally accountable for the change.
2. Convert Your Friends
Reducing our consumption is so important that it occupies two slots on our list. Once you’ve made the lifestyle changes necessary to start cutting the demand for oil, sell your friends on the idea. Help start a wave of awareness!
3. Own Your Destiny – Get Involved Politically
Whether or not you’re happy with the current state of national politics, there is still no bigger stage for enacting change, and Members respond to their constituents. As many of you know, there was a moratorium preventing offshore drilling in new areas for many years. This moratorium was lifted in 2008. Why? Because the American public choked on $4.00 gas prices and put the pressure on their representatives in Congress. Now’s the time to send a new message. Please do these four things:
- Tell the Senate to pass a good Climate bill. This will put a price on CO2 and will help scale up numerous renewable energy technologies to help end our dependence on dirty fossil fuels.
- Tell President Obama to lead on the Climate bill, and to follow through on the nation’s first National Ocean Policy. The National Ocean Policy will align the work of the 20 federal agencies that govern ocean use under a mandate to protect, restore and maintain healthy oceans.
- VOTE! Identify your priorities, pay attention to how your elected officials behave with regard to them and vote for the people who will act in your favor. Call and write them frequently – when you want them to act on something, and again to thank them when they do. Don’t give up on the system and don’t stop believing that you can make a difference.
- Join Ocean Champions! We’re the only ocean group that helps elect good ocean advocates to Congress, but we can’t do it without your support!
There are many good organizations trying to fight the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. If you have the time and capacity to help, please consider doing so. Most organizations ask you to register for service so that the process can be less chaotic.
5. Make Healthy Ocean Choices Every Day
The BP oil spill is devastating, but it isn’t the only threat facing the oceans. In fact, every day human activities take a massive toll, with the cumulative effect pushing ocean health to a tipping point from which it may never recover.
Making intelligent decision in these areas can have a significant positive effect:
- Eat only sustainable seafood. There are 46 fisheries in the U.S. that are currently overfished, and 41 that are experiencing overfishing. Many of these stocks are approaching a point from which they won’t be able to recover, and the Gulf oil spill is only exacerbating that effect. Use tools like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide to inform your purchase decisions.
- Eliminate plastic from your daily routine. Every piece of plastic ever manufactured is still with us and will be for hundreds of years. Much of it winds up in the ocean where it kills marine life of all forms. Shop with reusable bags, don’t buy bottled water and avoid over packaged goods. Reuse and recycle as much as possible.
- Nonpoint source pollution is a major cause of ocean water pollution. Americans spill 180 gallons of oil into our nation’s water every year. This is oil spilled on driveways and streets equating to 16 Exxon Valdez’s every year! In addition, nutrient pollution from over fertilizing lawns and crops has led to the creation of many no-oxygen “dead zones” in the ocean where marine animals cannot live. Rethink how you manage your yard, your crops and your vehicles.
Date Posted: July 30, 2010 @ 9:56 am Comments Off