Environment and Health
BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates how risky oil and gas drilling really is. For the 11 crew members killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Gulf communities, ocean water and wildlife, the impacts were immediate. The long-term repercussions will also be devastating. Stopping the leak, cleaning up the mess, and restoring the economic viability to the Gulf’s many industries that rely on clean, healthy water is going to be an enormous challenge.
What I have seen during my visits to the Gulf of Mexico is shocking, horrifying, and heartbreaking. One bird, covered in oil, struggled again and again to take off from the water. It’s the kind of image you want to share, not because it’s beautiful, but because you want so badly for people to understand.
You. Yes you there, wearing your complacency like a suit of medieval armor, proud that you only have three cars in your family and that you keep the thermostat at 70 degrees in the winter.
Here in my tiny outreach maternity clinic on the west side of Orlando, we achieved in 12 months something that the U.S. health care industry has failed to accomplish in more than a quarter century. We dramatically improved birth outcomes among poor pregnant women living in central Florida, an area desperately lacking in health-care services. What’s more, all the women we cared for–including several with risk factors, such as pre-existing health problems and poverty–had healthy hospital births.
Oops. Why did the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which triggered an environmental catastrophe seem so out of the blue? Well, for starters, if you were relying on the major media for any information about offshore oil drilling’s safety, you would have known not to fret
With BP’s disastrous oil slick filling the Gulf and sliming our shores, the corporation has already bought a third of the world’s supply of dispersants and is spraying them onto the slick. The chemical mixture supposedly breaks the floating oil into tiny droplets that then sink to the sea floor. The good news is that this treatment can minimize the volume of oil that would hit the Gulf coast.
The true cost of fossil fuels is getting harder to ignore.
Conditions at the Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Johnson & Johnson factory that produced now recalled children’s medicines including children’s Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl were apparently appalling.
Suddenly, we’re relearning the painful lesson that when technological solutions combine with corporate promises, we often get a toxic mix.