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Letters to the Editor

Our Gluttonous Demands

THE BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is nearly the worst human-induced environmental disaster ever. With 47 percent of the Gulf now contaminated with crude oil gushing from the earth's core, this has the makings for polluting all our entire planetary oceans as currents melt one into the other. One drop of oil leaves a slick a mile long. The world's oceans cover 71 percent of the earth's surface and 97 percent of the earth's water.

Oil trashing our natural environment occurs continuously all over the world. In Nigeria the oil industry claims it "cannot afford" to maintain facilities, and monthly oil spills are destroying native fishing areas and threatening the well-being of many villages.

So, why are we not stopping all deep ocean water drilling? Are oil pumping factories perched in deep ocean waters an environment that cannot be controlled by humans? The BP spill makes this obvious! Just one ocean-dwelling oil factory gusher and our precious wetlands, beaches and fisheries are doomed. BP is unable to stop this oil escaping from deep within the earth's core because the oil industry itself does not have the capacity or the technology to deal with this type of incident.

When BP sprayed dangerous chemical dispersants on the drifting crude surface, the dispersants separated the oil into small oil droplets forming large clouds of dispersed oil and chemicals moving subsurface up to 300 feet deep with ocean currents. A fish sees an oil droplet as food! These subsurface clouds of dispersant toxins and oil droplets are moving with the Gulf Stream currents, thereby poisoning the smallest animals of the ocean such as delicate corals, zooplankton and algaes. This inundating of the oceanic food chain is occurring in areas where essential continental shelf breeding grounds support fisheries throughout the oceans.

How could this have been prevented? There is only one way to prevent this type of disaster and it starts and ends with you and me. It begins with demand and reliance on petroleum products. The USA uses more petroleum products than most other countries and our children use natural resources that are 33 times greater than that of an African child.

The oil industry is seeking deep ocean water drilling permits because that is where they need to go next to meet our gluttonous oil demands. Such is our demand for oil that governmental regulatory agencies and the oil industry itself relaxes, ignores, and avoids or denies environmental safeguards promised by environmental laws. This is nothing new. Environmental protection remedies are woefully underutilized because people push to make money and save time. When an environmentalist stands between "progress" and "protection of wildlife," usually the environmentalist is severely disadvantaged for lack of money and time to carry on the fight to protect our planet. There should never be another deep water oil drilling permit issued by the USA ever, because the risks are too high. If the ocean dies so do we.

Chris Malan,


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