There are some families who have cared for oyster beds for five generations and have lost all of their oysters. One family establishment can be a tens of millions of dollar loss in assets and that is only if they can seed again from their wild reserves in estuaries and clean the beds they must strip and keep alive and together over years of heartbreaking work to help their children takeover. Many Brown Pelicans and their nests in rookeries are oiled. Fish and turtles are stressed. The struggle is bleak and just beginning. The pelican is on Louisiana’s flag is a sacred symbol in several religious traditions. Its health as a species has been fought for and it is the subject of the successful John Grisham novel The Pelican Brief. I went to Tulane Law School and dropped out like Darby Shaw the fictional female author of the fictional brief about pelicans and justices from which the novel takes its name. But this story is more sinister in my view whether or not it is as intentional as the plot in that novel. But I am no Darby Shaw.
I have had software trouble with every image including those of people scooping emulsified oil off of sandy beaches. I hope that image appears here after all. But whatever the reason for my struggle is tonight it is a small token of the real struggle. This is a struggle in which rigid and absorbent booms, chemical capture cages, berms, levees, flushing, and many other tactics will scarcely be enough. This is a struggle that cannot help but be against great odds. That is true even if every one behaves well. The parties have many reasons why they might not behave well.
It will not be nearly enough to find a way through ninety percent of this disaster real recovery will start when 99.9 % of the direct damage has been repaired. The eco-system is strained by our era’s world. But a real quality environment is the beginning of recovery. Nobody here is sure we can ever get there. Quality tourism, quality estuaries that contribute to the whole world in vital economic and ecological ways. Quality historic and cultural scenes that make this all workable as a demanding place to live. All this is threatened.
The BP executives claim there is a 70% chance they will shut down and in the well tomorrow. We will see as this nightmare keeps rolling on for us now on May 25, 2010. What will the total picture of this crisis end up being? Will there be at least hope for the pelicans of the barrier islands, fro the spawning grounds, the estuaries and the people of these lands?
There is an almost unlimited catalogue of the risks involved in this mess. It is the kind of situation that can become much worse very easily and is hard to make right. I ask those of you who can do something good to consider what good you can do. There are other needs in the world but the need to address this crisis is also very great.