Today is the tenth day since my pledge to write 30 blog posts in 30 days in response to the Gulf oil disaster. I had only a loose plan when I embarked on these posts, but now see them addressing three main steps for recovery from the spill and from our oil addiction in general:
- Cleaning up the spill and restoring the Gulf ecosystem, habitat and fisheries.
- Expediting a shift by the energy industry in the Gulf – and everywhere – into cleaner sources.
- Cutting demand for oil and so reducing the pressure for drilling in extreme areas such as deep waters of the ocean – the best and perhaps only good way to reduce the risk of this kind of catastrophe occurring again.
Today I want to write a bit about the first of these steps, the clean-up process. It’s a huge project, theoretically funded by BP and supervised by the federal government, and at this moment delayed by the presence of Hurricane Alex in the Gulf.
As I’ve scanned news of the Gulf clean-up, I’ve learned a bit about the key role being played by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. The OWCN has partnered with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to help lead efforts to care for oil-affected wildlife in the Gulf. Based in California, the OWCN is recognized internationally as a leader in saving wildlife from the effects of oil spills. Information at the OWCN website tells me that offering the best care for oiled wildlife takes more than showing up at a spill and scrubbing down turtles and birds. In news coverage, we see the actual response efforts, but the OWCN must also train and drill personnel to ensure rapid deployment when disasters strike; research methods for wildlife care to improve medical therapies used during oiled wildlife rehab; and share information and resources about effects of oil on wildlife and their habitat.
This is critical work, and I paid even more attention when I saw that the OWCN is administered by the Wildlife Health Center at University of California at Davis – my alma mater. Under the umbrella of UCD’s world-class School of Veterinary Medicine, the Wildlife Health Center not only oversees the OWCN but also runs a range of other programs to support wildlife health and rescue.
When I began this series of posts, I promised to donate $2 per completed post to some sort of recovery effort. BP is paying for the actual Gulf cleanup, but the Wildlife Health Center does accept donations to help support preparation for spills and other programs. Until we’re off oil, we need well-prepared organizations to do this. So I’ve decided to give my $2 per post to the UCD Wildlife Health Center. If you’d like to join me with a pledge – anywhere from 10 cents per post on up – please email me or leave a comment below. Thanks!