Oil sheens on water. Images taken after British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon/Macondo operation exploded, a mile below sea level, on April 20, 2010.
The subsequent 87-day gusher released an estimated and unprecedented 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. A total of 1.84 million gallons of the toxic dispersant Corexit EC9500A and Corexit EC9527A was also added to the ecosystem via sea-floor injection, dumping, and aerial spraying. The dispersant worked,— inasmuch as the oil was chemically directed out and away from the typically crowded, tourist destination white sand beaches of the ‘Emerald Coast,’ allowing the oil companies responsible to superficially re-define, recast their hitherto role, not only as the redeemed, reformed arch-villains from the worst ecological tragedy ever put on the world’s stage by man, but more importantly they did it to quell a dire public relations situation which was costing them billions of dollars. COREXIT, which is owned and patented by the oil industry itself, was used liberally and purposefully in a showy attempt to counter the even more staggering volume of oil which was being seen and discussed every day on newspaper covers, on television, in classrooms, over breakfast… And in this effort they were finally able to evade some of the constant scrutiny, public backlash and scathing press attention surrounding the massive, multiple-organizations’ attempts to ‘clean up,’ regardless of the long-term, bio-accumulative consequences of contributing known carcinogenic and toxic compounds into an already fragile ecosystem. As recently as July, enormous ‘tar mats’ continue to be found in vital marine areas, like the 40,000-pound mass of tar found near East Grand Terre, Louisiana, which again prompted the closure of waters to commercial fishing.
That the actual cumulative impact of the disaster cannot be realistically stated is undeniable, as systemic variables in the environment are many, chaotic and far too complex to allow for any singular blame over a potential Doomsday scenario to be placed upon the heads of those responsible, even if it was one of, —if not the,— most grievous of mankind’s ecological masochisms. Truly, this planet Earth and its many organisms has already in its long memory undergone more drastic and sudden evolutionary shocks to its System than this one. However, if we as homo sapiens, the dominant species among all terrestrial beings, desire to continue to comfortably grow, thrive, evolve, or even just survive beyond the follies of the Industrial and Post-Industrial Ages of Man, if we are to be more than merely some short-lived irritation in the celestial belly of our world, then we must start taking responsibility for the consequences of both our ecologically harmful actions as well as our equally harmful careless sponsorship of individuals or institutions that prioritizes personal gain over ecological sustainability. We must train our hearts and minds to act on behalf of our whole body which is planet Earth, discover that we have the courage and vision to make decisions which benefit both ourselves and the future.