The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf on the Florida coast shocked the world. We watched as the BP-owned rig leaked 4.9 million barrels of oil into Florida’s fragile ecosystem. Two years later, BP will be paying, with fines expected to go from $5 billion to $21 billion, most of which would be going to marshes, the fishing industry and all the damaged businesses along the coast.
Travelling to disaster zones is a wake up call for people who want to understand the impact beyond the initial media sensation. We know people who’ve travelled to Love Canal USA to see the long-range impact of a leaking chemical tank on a community, and to the pyramids of Giza to document the outrageous amount of trash and pollution clogging the streets on the way there. Tafline was just there recently reporting.
Car pool, find cheap flights to Orlando (and buy carbon offsets), or hitchhike your way down to the Gulf Coast to see how the oil has impacted the environment two years later. This is a cool way to learn more about how you can help local businesses in the Middle East fight for their rights in the face of pollution or government exploitation of resources that goes wrong.
Down in Florida, it’s not looking rosy. Defects are just now showing up in the fish. Dolphins are dying, and the people of Florida who relied on the sea for their livelihood are still suffering. Florida is not a rich state, so this spill has absolutely devastated the struggling economy of Florida.
According to First Coast News, we still have to worry about the 2 million gallons of toxic chemicals known as dispersants that were used to prevent most of the oil from reaching the shoreline. So you might not see a whole lot of oil on the shores, but the real dangers of the after-effects can be lurking underwater.
While watching a train wreck or 20 car pile up is a fascinating thing to do, there is usually nothing you can do to save the people if the medics and police have already arrived on the scene. We know that the medics had arrived to the BP spill two years ago to report and contain the spill, but most of the damages of this oil spill are still going on – the effects to be revealed in the DNA of afflicted animals.
Going down to the Florida coast in person can be a good way to assess how you as an environmentalist can help and educate others.