3 thoughts on “BP oil pollution scandal continues

  1. Here?s a message about public lands and wildlife that the folks at The Wilderness Society asked us to share with eNature.com readers.

    No matter where one stands on the issues around energy policy and oil drilling, we believe that public debate and participation are vital to good public policy. So we wanted to pass along this opportunity for you to get involved.

    The eNature.com Team

    ——–

    Dear Friend,

    The Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the coast of Alaska are home to whales, seals, seabirds, and polar bears.

    Shell Oil will start offshore drilling there within weeks.

    Urge the Obama administration to say no to drilling in these pristine Seas!

    Within the remote waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas ? off the coast of Alaska ? swim gray and bowhead whales, more than 3,000 belugas, and endangered fin and humpback whales.

    This wild place draws seabirds, seals, and roughly half of America’s polar bears. Ninety percent of the entire Pacific walrus population lives here year round.

    But this region will see new guests within weeks: ships from Shell Oil, bent on drilling five exploratory oil wells.

    The disaster in the Gulf is a tragic reminder that there is no fail-safe way to drill for oil offshore. Help us stop oil drilling in the Arctic before it ever begins ? and avert another offshore drilling disaster.

    Take action today to block drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas!

    Under the Bush Administration, millions of acres of the Arctic Ocean were leased to Shell Oil. The Wilderness Society and other conservation groups were able to convince the Obama Administration to review leasing plans there. The WildAlert community’s support had a big impact. Now Interior Secretary Salazar’s safety review is due out by May 26th, so we have a small window of time to influence his decision.

    An oil spill in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas would have devastating consequences on the marine life there, far from ports or any clean-up support. In fact, Coast Guard commandant Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing response efforts in the Gulf, told a recent Senate field hearing in Alaska that oil spill cleanup is “significantly more difficult” in colder temperatures and the [Arctic] region has “limited response resources and capabilities.”

    Take action now! Urge Secretary Salazar to stop Shell Oil from drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

    Time and again the WildAlert community has rallied to block harmful development that values corporate gain over the protection of wild places. We’re calling on you once again because we need your support to save these pristine wildlife habitats off the coast of Alaska from oil drilling.

    Cold coastal waters are fragile: the bountiful wildlife that call them home can’t handle an oil spill like what we’ve witnessed in the Gulf. Send a message to the Obama administration today, urging them to stop Shell’s offshore drilling plans before it’s too late.

    Thank you for everything you do to preserve our special wild places.

    Sincerely,

    Kathy Kilmer
    The Wilderness Society

  2. You’ll find sow bugs on any moist underside

    By Sue Pike
    May 19, 2010 2:00 AM

    My neighbor needed to move a pile of bark left over from a wood delivery last fall and, luckily for me, asked whether I wanted to look through it before it was moved. We were, I suppose, looking for something big and exotic like a salamander or frog, sheltering from the sun, or at least one of those giant centipedes.

    What we found instead were large numbers of sow bugs, also called wood lice.

    Coincidentally, an article on the uncertain affects of the cleanup of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on marine life, in particular the use of dispersants, which may turn out to be worse for the ecosystem than the oil spill itself, began with this evocative statement: “In total darkness at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico lives a creature with many scuttling legs and two wiggling antennae that jut from a pinched, space-alien face. It is the isopod, Bathynomus giganteus, a scavenger of dead and rotten flesh on the mud floor of the gulf.” (from “Oil Spill Imperils an Unseen World at the Bottom of the Gulf” by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, May 16, 2010).

    These two animals, this giant undersea isopod and our lowly sow bug, are both members of an interesting order of crustaceans known as the Isopoda. The name refers to their having equal numbers of feet (pods) on either side of their bodies that are similar to each other (iso), unlike other crustaceans that have different types of legs specialized for different activities, like feeding, crushing, or swimming.

    Sow bugs and their cousins, the roly-polies (also called pillbugs), are the only crustaceans to have adapted to living their entire lives out of water. They still breathe through gill-like structures at the bases of their legs, so they must stay moist at all time or they will suffocate and die.

    Growing up I was well-acquainted with roly-polies, so called because when frightened they can roll up into a tight ball, protecting their soft underbellies. These were fun creatures to annoy. Sow bugs look a lot like roly-polies but are flatter and can’t roll up into a ball. Sow bugs, like all isopods, have seven overlapping plates that form a protective outer shell. They have two distinctive tail-like appendages that project from underneath the rear of their shells and can use these, along with their powerful antennae, to right themselves if they are flipped over.

    Much of the background information on sow bugs invokes the word “pest,” which really gets my goat because these are not in any sense of the word pests. The word pest, by definition, means a person or thing that causes annoyance, specifically any destructive or troublesome insect. Sow bugs are omnivores and scavengers, mostly feeding on dead and decaying organic material; they don’t bite, sting, kill plants or chew on wood. Evidently they are considered pests in that large numbers can invade houses. They need to be in a high-moisture environment so can’t live inside for long, and while inside they do nothing destructive. To call something a pest because it occasionally is inside our houses, mostly hiding out of sight, is uncalled for and unnecessary.

    Sow bugs are part of an elusive group of forest floor organisms called cryptozoa (hidden animals), part of the unseen machinery that keeps our forests healthy. Sow bugs are important: they cycle nutrients in their role as detritovore, and they provide food for spiders, frogs, toads, salamanders and small mammals.

    If you take a close look you’ll see that they are really beautiful animals, glossy and mottled with shades of gray, yellow and brown. You’ll find them under almost any log or leaf pile, anywhere that is dark and damp, in your backyard. If you’d like to attract a lot, put a half cantaloupe, cut side down, on the ground and check underneath after a day or two, you won’t be disappointed.

    Sue Pike of York has worked as a researcher and a teacher in biology, marine biology and environmental science for years. She teaches at York County Community College and St. Thomas Aquinas High School. She may be reached at spike3@maine.rr.com.

    http://ht.ly/1NhD7

  3. Pingback: BP, Halliburton, Transocean criminal corporations | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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