5 Things To Do About the BP Oil Gusher

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.

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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!

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4. Volunteer!

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.

Here are some good places to start:
•    Louisiana Gulf Response
•    Oiled Wildlife Care Network
•    Volunteer Louisiana
•    Volunteer Mississippi
•    Volunteer Florida Disaster
•    Serve Alabama

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.

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Date Posted: July 30, 2010 @ 9:56 am Comments Off

Ocean Warrior Paddles the Pacific Coast

Posted by: Chris Laughlin

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Ocean Warrior Margo Pellegrino has launched and is on her way!  On July 3rd, Margo set out on a pacific coast paddling adventure from Seattle to San Diego on behalf of ocean health.  One stroke at a time Margo is raising awareness and inspiring others… one woman’s attempt to protect and conserve our oceans and coasts for future generations by calling out to all communities along America’s coastlines.  She is doing everything she can to highlight four ocean issues:

  • the impacts of sewage, fertilizers and storm water run-off
  • overfishing and unsustainable industry fishing practices
  • the acidification of our oceans
  • the problem with plastics

These are critically important issues that align with Ocean Champions priorities.  Sewage, fertilizer and storm run-off are major contributors to harmful algal blooms.  Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are known to kill fish, marine mammals, and birds; they can contaminate shellfish with toxins and harm human health, sometimes resulting in fatalities. They shut down fisheries, sideline fishermen and drive tourists away from resorts. Researchers have estimated that HABs cost coastal communities nearly $100 million annually. The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act was introduced in 2009 by two of our champions in the Senate, Senators Bill Nelson and Olympia Snowe.  The bill passed the House floor in March.  We’re working with our champions in the Senate to see it through to passage on the Senate floor.

Addressing overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices is also one of Ocean Champions priorities.  The Magnuson Stevens Fishery and Conservation Act is the primary federal statute governing how we manage our Nation’s fisheries and, requires ending overfishing, rebuilding depleted fish populations and achieving sustainable fisheries management.  In 2006, we played a significant role in reauthorizing the M-S Act, today, we are working to protect and defend against the weakening of the M-S Act.

Ocean Acidification and marine debris are massive problems that Ocean Champions and many other members in the ocean community continually seek opportunities to move forward on.  Three of our champions in Congress have taken leadership roles in moving legislation forward that addresses ocean acidification.

Ocean Champions is a big fan of Margo’s pro-ocean mission.  We hope that you will support Margo in her efforts too.  She is demonstrating that “one person CAN make a difference – for her children and all of our children, as they are the future leaders of our world.”

Follow Margo on her real time “Margo Tracker” link, and check out photos from her voyage down the coast.  She also has an adventure blog that she updates regularly, Margo had quite an adventure with the Oregon coast guard yesterday.  Watch for her blog post talking about it coming out very soon.  On Wednesday, August 11th, you can catch Margo on Moir’s Environmental Dialogues at 9 PDT / 12 EDT.

Keep the momentum going Margo!  We wish you the very best!

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John F. Kennedy, “We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.”

Date Posted: July 23, 2010 @ 2:39 pm Comments Off

Looking For a Solution Within Ourselves

Posted by: Thomas Parker

In the wake of any heart-wrenching disaster, our natural human tendency is to look for a place to lay blame. In the case of the Deep Horizon oil spill, the worst environmental disaster in American history, we understandably directed our blame at British Petroleum. While I still strongly believe that BP should be held accountable for all the damage they have done in the Gulf, I also believe that we as a society must widen our gaze to understand how we got to this point and how we can move on to create a better future for both the environment and our society.

Looking beyond BP, there are a number of players who merit closer scrutiny. We must look at the regulators who let rig inadequacies go unnoticed because of ties developed with the very companies they regulate.  We must look at the leaders responsible for these regulators who failed to hold them accountable and allowed a broken culture to continue.  Most importantly, however, we must look at ourselves and our own consumption behavior because in a capitalist economy and democratic society we are in charge of our world and have the ability to change it!

Interning here at Ocean Champions has shown me first hand the power that every citizen has to demand change from our government. The goal of all the hard work done here is to provide society with the information we need to make smart choices in our election of officials, but we all must do our part by getting out and voting. We can demand a strong climate bill, more investment in renewable energy, a national ocean policy and a ban on offshore drilling, but in order to do so we HAVE to get out and vote! Sometimes the many layers of government make us feel insignificant, but we have to remember that officials rely on us to stay in office, and if we make calls, send letters, and most importantly get out and vote, they will always be forced to do what we know is right. Whether it is signing, co-sponsoring, or sponsoring bills for energy independence, they have the power to press congress and the administration, but most importantly, WE have the power to press them!

In a capitalist economy, the private sector delivers whatever society demands at the lowest cost they can achieve. What we in the United States demand more than any other country in the world is oil and we want it to be “affordable.”  In 2007 alone, we as a nation accounted for 24.3% of the world’s oil consumption, roughly 20,680,000 barrels of oil per day and almost three times that of China, who was second on the list with 7,578,000 barrels per day (“Oil Consumption (Most Recent) by Country”).

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Source:  Oil Consumption (Most Recent) by Country

Therefore, while we still hold BP accountable for the horrible damage they have caused, we also need to hold ourselves accountable and search within to see what each of us can do to help ensure that nothing of this magnitude ever plagues our oceans again! This could mean using alternate forms of transportation such as hybrid vehicles, buses, trains, bicycles, skateboards, or our own two feet whenever possible.  It could mean investing in alternative energy and driving new technology that will help us lessen our reliance on not just foreign oil but oil in general.  It could mean making our own vegetable or fruit gardens so that companies are shipping less, and it could mean simply taking the time to learn what we can each do differently in our own lives to save energy and oil, protect our oceans, our environment, and our livelihoods.

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Source:  The Elephants in the Obama-McCain-PickensEnergy Plans

Here are several simple ways we can all get started on saving energy and reducing our reliance on oil during our every day lives (“20 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CONSERVE ENERGY”):
1) Make better use of home appliances by: turning down your refrigerator, washing your clothes on cold, only running a full dishwasher, setting your water heater thermostat down from 140° to 120°, and of course turning off lights and unplugging appliances when they are not being used.
2) Increase heating and cooling efficiency by making sure not to overheat or overcool rooms. Several degrees can save hundreds of pounds of CO2 per year for a home and significantly decrease energy usage. Also it is important to clean and replace air filters as directed in order to maximize efficiency.
3) Spend the extra buck in order to save in the long run by purchasing fluorescent light bulbs that save energy and money, as well as last longer than normal bulbs. You can also wrap your water heater in an insulated jacket in order to save heating costs and caulk your windows to keep the house temperature steady.
4) The last thing I will mention is reducing, reusing, and recycling by buying goods with less packaging and reusing or recycling that packaging whenever possible.

These suggestions are simply a start on the many ways we can conserve and take a positive step towards energy independence. I hope everyone will continue to develop their own creative means of helping save our oceans, environment, and national livelihoods.

Date Posted: July 8, 2010 @ 10:48 am Comments Off