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Oil Spill Solutions: A Blimp, An Actor and A Whale

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
09 July 2010, 10:10 AM
Nothing is too strange when oil is forecast
Navy blimp is oil spill eye in the sky

Whoever would have thought that Florida would be issuing daily oil forecasts as if they were predicting weather? Check out today's advisory from the state governor's office:

Forecasts are for winds and currents to move oil in the Gulf of Mexico westward and projections are Escambia County beaches will remain largely oil free for the next several days.

After 81 days of continuous oil flow into the Gulf from BP's blown out well, this wee statement symbolizes the new norm for people who must accept the spilled oil as a routine part of their lives. It's much worse of course for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, whose residents are forced into hand-to-hand combat with the invading oil. Some pretty exotic solutions are just now coming to their aid:

Actor Kevin Costner's oil/water separator took to the Gulf yesterday, hoping to skim up oil much faster than current techniques. Supposedly, the device can operate in much rougher conditions than other skimmers. His company is called Ocean Therapy.

 "A Whale," the world's hugest skimmer at 2 1/2 football fields long, is also trying to prove its worth in the Gulf, amid skepticism from the Coast Guard.

Overseeing - literally - the skimming efforts starting today is an old technology: a blimp. Deemed more cost effective at reconaissance than helicopters or fixed-wing air craft, the U.S. Navy blimp will guide skimming efforts.


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Some of the people here in Louisiana whose livelihoods have been stopped cold by this disaster have turned downright poetic when they talk about it. They talk about how the Gulf has been as a great benevolent ancestor to them. A fisher here might tell you, for instance, how fishing is not merely their way of making a living but is in fact a way of life itself.

That's all good, but, in the past, when it has come to honoring and protecting this great ancestor, this way of life, the people on the Louisiana coast have not put their money where there mouths now seem to be. In particular, they have stood in opposition to any sort of regulation on either of the two primary industries from which the majority of these people have drawn their livelihoods, oil and seafood. The people know very well, for instance, that the health of the wetlands along the Gulf are indelible to the health of the Gulf itself. Those who rely upon fishing know that the marshes are the spawning waters for their catch. Most of the families living along the coast have been here for generations. Everyone here knows some elder who can remember whole islands that have since disappeared to erosion. Yet, to this day, oil companies cut canals through the wetlands with seeming impunity, and with little opposition. There is an attitude of denial here that has given way to an outright contempt of ecologists and the environmental sciences. Unfortunately, the people often take that attitude with them to the voting booth, as well.

What is happening in the Gulf is heartbreaking. But what is equally heartbreaking is the fact that we whose lives are so dependent upon the Gulf should know more than anybody about how to protect it. In Louisiana, oil and seafood shouldn't have to be the only industries. Ecology is an industry itself, and it's one that Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida should be the leaders of. We should know more about ecology and how to preserve our waters than anyone else in the nation. That knowledge is marketable, and we should be the "go to guys" when it comes to ecology.

One thing is for certain: If we are going to survive this, we are going to have to change. There will be no such thing as "business as usual" after this. Not if we want to live.

Why is it that we can't all just all work together, I mean its not like arguing over who has a better strategy is going to get us anywhere! We need to realize that the country needs our help and even if it isn't our fault we still need to be there for it. Not just the local citizens, but far out ones too, we all can take a stand to help with this oil spill! The local communities can help pick up tar balls from beaches and clean the beaches up from all of the left over oil, while the far out communities could donate money or other products that would be a great help to the people in the loal area while they are cleaning the beaches! See, we don't need to be there physically to help, we can volunteer in other ways as well, but either way if we don't do something to help, even just a little, how can we expect for this to be over soon? So why can't we just take that small step and help?

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