The image to the right was taken at the “hands across the sand” event in Narragansett Pier on Saturday June 26, 2010. Although attendance at the event was smaller then I anticipated, I was very happy to be there.
It is easy to take a stand in the face of human suffering as we did when the forces of nature hit Haiti. But it is harder when the suffering and the masses of those who are suffering have no voice. The oil spill in the gulf is so much more then a set back to tourism, restricted access to beaches, a punch to the fishing industry. This crisis is an ecological disaster that has the potential to wipe out species of creatures, coral reefs, and significantly impact the infrastructure of the planet and the way we live
There are 5 species of sea turtles that live in the gulf, one of which only nests there and no where else in the world. Two others are on the endangered or threatened species lists. The whales found in the area are believed to be at risk due to the way they eat. They are at risk of ingesting large amounts of oil. Concerns for the 9 species of dolphins living in the area include the risk of eating contaminated fish or starvation due to lack of fish. And, we have all seen the sad images of oil laden birds. Can you imagine being them and experiencing the hopelessness that they feel as they are held captive in a slick coat of death? It is their homes, the marshlands, barrier reefs and beaches that we see, in the media, being impacted by the spill.
What we don’t see is what is happening beneath the surface of the ocean, to the coral reefs and deep sea inhabitants. Coral reefs are living organisms and they are home to many species of fish and sea animals. These reefs will be suffocated as microbes deep in the sea continue to eat the plumes of oil and deplete the oxygen needed by the coral. As the coral die off so will the beautiful spectrum of creatures dependent on it. The reverberation to the entire food chain is unthinkable but we must think about it, we must talk about it and we must take action.
It is one thing to cry over spilled milk and another to to take steps to assure that it never happens again. This is where we can really make a difference. A bit of simple activism can make a big impact especially if you encourage others to join you. Let your local representatives know that this event has proven that off shore drilling is not safe and should not be supported. Learn about alternative energy options and support policy that encourages research into and the use of safe, clean energy sources. Participate in or hold organized gatherings to share and learn how you can help at the local, national and global level. Be mindful of what you buy, avoid petroleum based products, drive only when necessary, consider a hybrid the next time you purchase a car. The greatest activism is to live as an example of what you believe is right. In the words of Mohandas Gandhi – “be the change you wish to see in the world!”