Amid chants of “Drill, baby, drill” and Obabma’s recent commitment to drill offshore in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coastline, an oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana last week. We have just become the nation’s cautionary tale.
They said the oil wouldn’t reach our shores. Now, we all know it’ll land by midnight and decimate the local wildlife and economy. The wafting perfumes of Sweet Olive and Jasmine have been replace by a thick grey oily smoke scented with burning fossil fuel. They say the smell will be with us 30-60 days. I want to cry but I’m numb with the future we have before us.
Let’s put aside for a moment (as if you could) that the food here is some of the best in the world and that the house specialty is seafood and that much of the local economy and culture is based in seafood. The Gulf holds 1/3 to 1/5 of commercial seafood for the U.S. (depending on the source) and 3/4 of shrimp for the country. Early estimates are 1 year without shrimp and up to 3 years without oysters. Shrimpers MAY be able to live without work for a year (could you?), but the oyster industry cannot survive 3 years with no pay.
1/3 of Recreational fishing takes place in the Gulf. Much of New Orleans and the region’s tourism, dining, festivals and lifestyle center around seafood. This has already been a tough year as crawfish season started late and expensive due to the long, cold Winter.
What really breaks my heart and frightens me is that the ever dwindling wetlands, the ones everyone agrees save the city from hurricanes, the ones the State has been trying desperately to restore, are going to be devastated.
It’s hard to watch my Thursday night comedies with a constant crawl on the bottom of the screen giving me phone numbers: who to call if you find an affected animal, who to call if you find fouled land, who (at B.P. Oil) to call if you want to volunteer your boat and services for their “Vessel of Opportunity” program.
Earlier today, I walked to the French Quarter enjoying the breeze and the perfume of blooming flowers. I ordered shrimp cocktail for lunch. On my way home, I passed a couple in the park sitting back to back, using each other for support, reading books. It was a beautiful day in this beautiful city. Now, there’s a fire in the Gulf on a slick the size of Rhode Island (not hyperbole – actual size) and the best solution they’ve come up with so far is to dump “chemicals” into the water to try to “break it up.”
We all make mistakes, but I pride myself on learning and growing from mine and making new mistakes. Do we really want to keep learning the same lessons over and over?