Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How Wildlife and People are Faring in the Gulf

Visiting the Gulf: how wildlife and people are faring in America's worst environmental disaster, an interview with Jennifer Jacquet
By Jeremy Hance for mongabay.com, July 29, 2010

"President Obama called it 'the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.' So I thought I should face it and head to the Gulf"—these are the opening words on the popular blog Guilty Planet as the author, marine biologist Jennifer Jacquet, embarked on a ten day trip to Louisiana. As a scientist, Jacquet was, of course, interested in the impact of the some four million barrels of oil on the Gulf's already depleted ecosystem, however she was as equally keen to see how Louisianans were coping with the fossil fuel-disaster that devastated their most vital natural resource just four years after Hurricane Katrina.

"It seems that the people of Louisiana are a special sub-population of humanity we could call Homo resilius. They have a certain resilience to disaster that probably only exists in challenged regions of the world, like Haiti, for instance," she told mongabay.com, adding that her experience was paradoxical.

"When I was there, I seriously thought parts of Louisiana were like hell on earth. And then I left and I thought everywhere else seemed boring in comparison. Louisiana and the people who live there are really special."

Jacquet says that while the news media is focusing on the obvious effects of the Gulf spill, such as oiled birds, "it seems many of the effects will be more insidious. Scientists I spoke to are particularly concerned about the larval phases of fish and invertebrates, which are planktonic and not able to avoid patches of oil the way free-swimmers might."

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