An unmitigated environmental disaster, an economic crisis and a personal tragedy, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to elicit more questions than environmentalists can answer. President Obama’s rhetoric on the matter is becoming increasingly bellicose as he responds to public demand for those responsible to be brought to task.
As Obama talks of ‘kicking ass,’ one assumes it will be BP CEO Tony Hayward who will be bracing himself and assuming the position, along with thousands of pensions in the UK. Meanwhile, the Gulf’s myriad wildlife bears the ultimate brunt of the oil spill which some estimate to be at a rate more than 24,000 barrels a day.
The pictures of fish, turtles and sea birds being washed up on the coast, rendered lifeless by thick, cloying oil are becoming depressingly familiar however many local naturalists are saying it is the damage we cannot see that should be of greatest concern. The territory of dolphins covers hundreds of miles in the Gulf and consequently, they are more susceptible to the effects of the oil spill which in the case of marine mammals causes death by internal bleeding. These casualties will only come to light in the next few years along with the long term effects on bird and turtle reproduction. The long term impact on manatees is also of particular concern as following a winter that saw over 500 manatees die due to extreme weather, there is a real threat that the oil spill will seriously damage grass sea beds and other vegetation that forms the basis of their diet.
While the President is currently pre-occupied with establishing blame and delivering reprisal we can only hope that as the sheer scale of this unprecedented eco-disaster is realised, he will be moved to channel his efforts into finding alternative clean energy sources.