It has been months since the initial oil washed up on the shore. BP and the government would like us to believe that the problem is gone, the oil dispersed or evaporated, and the beaches clean. Oil beneath the surface of the ocean is no less damaging than oil on the shore. Even in small concentrations it can be harmful, and with the amount that is likely in the Gulf, I imagine there will be dramatic effects on many of the marine life populations: the delicate plankton, the whales, the fish, the sensitive deep sea corals and sponges.
Today, I saw Horn Island, off the coast of Mississippi, covered in tarballs, a painful, visual reminder that this devastating catastrophe isn't over. Just as we had seen in the early weeks of the spill, this island showed all the signs of a delicate habitat at substantial risk. We saw a turtle nest just a few feet away from tarballs; we dug in the sand a few feet and found layers of black sand beneath the surface. It was clear that this small island would be changed forever. Even though most of the oil has never even made landfall and we're just seeing the tiniest percent of the problem, still we see the absolute futility of our attempts to mitigate the effects of the spill. It is enormous, out of control, and impossible to clean up, and it is outrageous that we are being told that the problem is solved.
It makes me angry that the clean up efforts are so bad that the tarballs beside a turtles nest have not yet been cleaned, but I don't know what the answer is in terms of recovering these islands. The laborious process of land cleanup likely won't be fast enough to spare the wildlife that call these islands their home.
What can we do but witness the destruction? Witness, document, remember and then change.