Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

The earth will give us much needed rain today, here in Wellfleet. Yesterday I was re-reading The Outermost House by Henry Beston, and came upon this passage:

"A new danger, moreover, now threatens the birds at sea. An irreducible residue of crude oil, called by refiners 'slop,' remains in stills after oil distillation, and this is pumped into southbound tankers and emptied far offshore. This wretched pollution floats over large areas, and the birds alight in it and get it on their feathers. They inevitably die. Just how they perish is still something of a question. Some die of cold, for the gluey oil so mats and swabs the thick arctic feathering that creases open through it to the skin above the vitals; others die of hunger as well. Captain George Nickerson of Nauset tells me that he saw an oil-covered eider trying to dive for food off Monomoy, and that the bird was unable to plunge. I am glad to be able to write that the situation is better than it was. Five years ago, the shores of Monomoy peninsula were strewn with hundreds, even thousands, of dead sea fowl, for the tankers pumped out slop as they were passing the shoals - into the very waters, indeed, on which the birds have lived since time began! Today oil is more the chance fate of the unfortunate individual. But let us hope that all such pollution will presently end."

This passage was written in 1928. The situation, unfortunately, has only gotten worse. We just marked the second anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill with eyeless shrimp and heavy-metal oysters.

No one has been held accountable. How would you feel if BP were to obtain a permit to drill off Cape Cod?

On Earth Day, 2012, can everyone reading this post think about Beston's words and make a personal commitment to do more, ie. do his/her part, to stop pollution?