An estimated 5,000 barrels of oil a day are poisoning the Gulf of Mexico and smothering life along the shores since a British Petroleum rig exploded in April. Why should I not react to this as a terrorist attack? Yes, it wasn’t intentionally done by a militant anti-government gang of thugs — instead it was done by unfettered Big Oil business executives who are anti-regulation whose hubris has now led to the biggest environmental attack in this country. An attack that is spreading terror all along America’s southern coast.
Why do I think that if we viewed the Gulf of Mexico as a “water commons” and allowed the small oyster farmers and family-owned fishing businesses to make decisions over the waters that they depend on, we wouldn’t be in this situation.
I’m reminded of the unique solution around oil that Ecuador came up with: Ecuador is paid to leave its oil in the ground. Yes, it’s a crazy upside-down market situation — but the end result is the pristine rain forest is not destroyed by drilling and the indigenous communities have maintained their standard of living.
Here’s an excerpt from an article on mapping the BP oil debacle:
A story in Wednesday’s New York Times described the use in Louisiana of a technology called Ushahidi, which likewise was used after this year’s earthquakes and which is now allowing a group called the Louisiana Bucket Brigade to record data from people who send texts and tweets about everything from out-of-work fishermen to oil-covered animals. The Google tool also is drawing from the Ushahidi data and placing it on the map.
Mapping and crowd-sourcing technologies are proving useful after disasters and in other emergency situations. Most dramatically, the technologies can help rescuers allocate resources to certain locations and quickly find people who can communicate by text or phone, as after the earthquake in Haiti. In other cases, they allow the public to ensure that their concerns are being recorded and give people studying the event a readily accessible set of data from those on the ground.
Reports coming in from the user-generated content near the Gulf of Mexico include information on the closure of oyster beds, odors in the air, and sightings of birds in oily areas. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade anticipates that the reports will increase as the oil moves ashore. Maps of the slick, which have been updated daily this week, show the movement of the oil as winds and currents carry it on the water.