A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words - the Oil Coated Gulf

As the Gulf of Mexico disaster continues to unfold, the oily images that we keep seeing are both horrifying and a harbinger of any future that remains yoked to fossil fuels.  The photos and videos now coming out of the Gulf mark the greatest environmental disaster in this country’s history, and they cannot – they must not—be ignored.

These pictures aren’t worth a mere thousand words. They are worth volumes; they are archival in their significance. Yet words, too, have great power – sometimes in ways that are not intended.  With this in mind, NRDC’s media team has produced a powerful video clip that combines some of the spill’s most arresting images with quotes from BP’s CEO Tony Hayward.  The clip is set to Skeeter Davis’ haunting and bittersweet song, “The End of the World.”

The juxtaposition of the spill’s apocalyptic images– dead sea turtles, marine birds covered with oil, demoralized fishermen and disaster relief workers – with Howard’s clueless observations show just how far astray our addition to oil has taken us. As the oil spews at the rate of thousands of barrels a day, Howard blandly asserts that “…almost nothing has escaped...”  The impact of the disaster, he claims, is “…likely to have been very, very low.”   Later, Howard implies reaction to the spill is excessive because “…The amount of the volume of oil and dispersant…is tiny in relation to the total volume of (the Gulf’s) water…”  And despite hard evidence to the contrary, Howard insists the “…oil is on the surface -- there aren’t any (underwater) plumes…”

And in perhaps his most insensitive statement, Howard demonstrates his concern over the damage BP has wrought:  “…There’s no one who wants this over more than I do.  I’d like my life back…”

Welcome to the club, Tony – we’d all like our lives back, especially those folks who live and work along the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. While the resolution of the Gulf disaster remains wholly unclear, we can still do a great deal to avoid similar catastrophes in the coming years and decades. Specifically, Congress can pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill by the end of the summer. And in California, we can demand full implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act.  AB 32 will stimulate research and development in clean tech and alternative fuels while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions; it points the way to a prosperous economy and environmental security.

Finally, we can do something to help the communities of the Gulf by contributing to NRDC’s Gulf Coast Recovery Fund.  One hundred percent of the proceeds will be devoted to providing aid and support to the human beings and wildlife devastated by the spill.