Hanging Out at the Beach, Waiting on the Oil Slick

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Glynn Wilson

The Big Picture
by Glynn Wilson

GULF SHORES, Ala. — The sun has popped out of the clouds here at the beach across from the most famous party going on in the world right now at The Hangout Fest.

Most of the day’s acts were canceled due to a stormfront tracking in from the southwest. The storm passed directly through BP’s shifting oil slick, counteracting the prevailing southeastern breeze that has been coming in here at 15-20 mph the past few days. You know, the thing that has kept BP and Halliburton’s growing mess from making landfall on the sugar-white sandy beaches here, marring the festival, the environment and the economy.

Due to the change in the wind’s direction, that big blob of a mess now filled with chemicals as well as crude is once again turning this way. The tide will push it here too, unless Mother Nature intervenes once again in a way the meteorologists and weathermen on TV can’t predict, or even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As I sat here this morning in the kitchen of this beach house across the street from The Hangout listening to the rain, waiting on the oil to get here, I couldn’t help but think of another Sunday a little more than five years ago when I first went independent on the Web Press.

It was raining that day too, in Takoma Park, Maryland, and I was cowboying around on the MoJo road in a Chevy van with a canoe on top then too, chasing a story. I knew a second term for George W. Bush was going to be a disaster, just like everything else little George ever touched in his life.

But there was no stopping it, that evil recipe called media influence over the masses, voter ignorance — and of course Republican election fraud.

I felt then that there might be a chance, and just a few days back, I felt there might be a chance against this oil too.

But until we get verifiable evidence that the Deepwater Horizon has been plugged, it is still spewing more crude into the Gulf of Mexico every week than the Exxon Valdez dumped in Prince William sound 20 years ago in a single act of utter human incompetence. This time, I suspect we’ll find out it’s all about the money, the money BP and Halliburton didn’t want to spend to ensure a clean operation from the deepest oil well ever dug.

They thought they could just do it, like they thought the Iraqi people would welcome them with roses when they invaded Baghdad.

New on the job, the Obama administration had no indicators that anything was amiss in the Gulf. So they continued the lax protocols on regulating oil companies, while trying to mop up from the lack of regulation in the financial industry and taking a few steps forward in beginning to regulate health care in this country.

Now all bets are off for Big Oil, since BP’s screw up has now resulted in a moratorium on new drilling until investigations can be conducted.

The people of Florida, California and Alaska — except for the Palin family — are all too familiar with the problems of conflicting choices and horrible disasters that come from compromising with the old industry. Yes, we’ve gotta have oil to run damn near everything. But when your economy is dependent on a clean environment, as it is in tourism around waterways and beaches, an oil spill means a certain kind of quick death to the economy.

Yes, it may recover, just as you can rebuild a place after a hurricane or an earthquake. From an oil spill, though, especially when attacked with chemical dispersants, the immediate impact on the environment is the bang-bang of TV news. But it’s the long-term effects you really have to wonder about.

We are already killing off the world’s species at an alarming rate. Events like this will impact the Gulf ecosystem for years to come.

The tourists may come back to party after you scoop the oil off the beach. But some of the sea and marsh life may never return.

Yes, they may fish and shrimp and oyster these waters again one day. But it’s not going to be soon, and who knows what species will recover and when? Who will stay in the fishing business and continue taking the risk?

That is something we are going to be looking into over the coming days, months and years. This story is far from over.

© 2010 – 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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