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What Have We Wrought in Our Oceans and On Our Earth?

I just read an article in Oprah’s September, 2010 magazine, by editor-in-chief Susan Casey. Ms. Casey wrote about she recently witnessed the devastation caused by the BP oil leak (uh, how about super gush – too big for my mind to truly grasp).

A seaplane pilot, wishing to remain anonymous, gave her an aerial tour of the area. Ms. Casey said the pilot was warned not to bring journalists over the area by BP, but he was so disgusted by themes that he agreed to bring her over the area so we can all get a better picture of what is happening in the Gulf. The flight plan had to be cleared by the Coat Guard and BP. She reports that three weeks after her visit the US has made it a criminal offense for journalists to be within 65 feet of any clean-up area. The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spilled out oil the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every four days.

Ms. Casey reports that BP used a dispersant called Corexit 9527and 9500 to well, disperse, the huge amounts of oil spilled into the rich ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. Oprah’s magazine reports that dispersants push the oil deeper into the underwaters of the ocean and scientists have confirmed that large black oil plumes are collecting underneath the surface where we can’t see it so well. Marian Wang, of ProPublica and Mother Jones, reports that Corexit 9527 is linked to red-blood cell rupture, respiratory and blood disorders and kidney and liver damage in the rescue workers of the Valdez clean-up. According to Elaine Shannon, Environmental Editor of the Huffington Post, Nalco, the manufacturer of these products, does not have to reveal the ingredients of these toxic concoctions that are being dumped into our planet’s oceans.

Well, okay, here’s the thing…..the UK has banned the use of Nalco’s Corexit for use in oil spills in its waters. The USA’s EPA still has Corexit on its dispersant list, but according to Greenwire, a professional D.C.-based company reporting on environmental issues, there are other dispersants on the USA EPA list that have been shown to be less toxic and twice as effective. The EPA has approved the Corexit products to be used near the origin of the spill, but not to be used in large quantities. Oprah magazine reports that BP has used this chemical with abandon in the Gulf or Mexico, spraying it from planes and piping it into the ocean. The Nalco company is interlocked with Exxon and BP business structures.

The Gulf of Mexico is part of our basic food chain. It is home to sperm whales, dolphins, bluefin tuna, billfish, whale sharks, sea turtles, shrimp, snappers, groupers, brown pelicans, and migrating songbirds, water birds, ducks and geese. Hundreds of birds and sea turtles, on the endangered species list, have already died. What are the effects of spraying and pumping into this vast ecosystem? How many living creatures will it kill? How many species will be pushed to the brink of extinction? How will this work its way into our food and water supplies?

Well, all I can say is that after my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, we took stock of all the BPA chemical we were getting from the food packaged in cans and plastic, and also found on cash register receipts, courtesy of our manufacturers. BPA has been shown to, among other fancy side-effects, disrupt prostate function in rats, increase breast cancer rates with perinatal exposure, and cause neuroblastoma cells to grow.

As a natural as possible mom myself, I wonder how far does buying organic and purchasing water in glass bottles really go? I wonder how the people who run our private corporations can possibly allow these chemicals to continue to be in their products? How can the corporate boards continue to allow production and delivery of products to people that they know are harmful to large amounts of people?

As I look at the pictures of the seabirds and turtles, and think about the intelligent dolphins and whales being suffocated in the ocean, I think about the 30,000 miles I put on my car every year (I do NOT have an SUV) and the amount of oil it takes to heat my house. Amid the work and paying the mortgage and utility bills, all I can think of to do is donate to the Gulf of Mexico environmental cause, research alternative energy cars for my next purchase, research solar energy for my house, and step up my efforts to re-use, recycle and compost. Let me know if you have any other ideas.


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