Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Walk on the Beach

My governor, Haley Barbour, keeps trying to insist that the oil spill is no big deal for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Sure, we haven't seen the thick sludge hitting the shores of Louisiana. But as soon as the winds and tides are right, it seems like it is inevitable.

The oil is impacting the life of the creature that call the shoreline and the Gulf home. The air does not have that sweet clean smell along the beach. The oil smell, can at times be stifling. No longer do fresh breezes come from offshore. instead, the air smells stale. It is hard to describe really. It doesn't have that salty tang anymore.

Along the shore, there doesn't seem to be the same number of birds that where there in April. Even accounting for birds that are nesting, the numbers seem far fewer. I counted myself lucky yesterday when I saw four black skimmers, one pelican, an osprey, a handful of sea gulls, and a handful of plovers and sand pipers.

The beach also seems to have more dead animals. I see dead horse shoe crabs frequently. dead fish are more than normal. And I saw a dead baby stingray.

The area where the sand meets the water is being stained red.

There are fewer tourists. The situation does warrant the attention is giving the Gulf Coast area. People died when the well first exploded. People's livelihoods are threatened. Those that make their living fishing and shrimping are already having to deal with less income and a very uncertain future.

How many years or decades will it take to clean-up this mess? The Gulf of Mexico is being turned into a vast dead zone.

I feel a sense of sadness and bewilderment from the attitude of Governor Barbour. He did a stellar job after Hurricane Katrina so his nonchalance at what is awaiting the shoreline defies belief. Instead of going on picnics in New York City he should be meeting with President Obama.

But Barbour is hardly the only Mississippi politician I'm angry at. Congressman Gene Taylor sent me an email the other day. He's up for re-election and I guess he's feeling threatened by the opposition. His email did not say one thing about the oil spill. It show-cased the defense contracts he brought to Mississippi.

The uncertainity of the future because of the oil looming off the shore is more threatening than the rebuilding wefaced after Hurricane Katrina. You know how to prepare and you know how to rebuild.

How can a vast dead zone be brought back to life?

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