Today, delegates from nearly two hundred nations are gathering in Qatar for the UN'sThis new campaign is spreading an urgent message face-to-face all over the country, as this group of activists visit over twenty cities in the USA. Their message: it's simple math. We can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming – anything more than this risks total catastrophe for all life on the planet. The problem: fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five more times the safe amount . . . And they’re planning to burn it all – unless we rise up to stop them."> COP18 – the latest round of UN climate talks aimed at cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.
While they all try to talk it out in Qatar, Bill McKibben and his grassroots initiative with 350.org may achieve far more on the ground than any solemn swear of re-commitment to the Kyoto Protocol will at Qatar. This new campaign is spreading an urgent message face-to-face all over the country, as this group of activists visit over twenty cities in the USA. Their message: it's simple math. We can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming – anything more than this risks total catastrophe for all life on the planet. The problem: fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five more times the safe amount . . . And they’re planning to burn it all – unless we rise up to stop them.
A new report on the BP oil spill aftermath find disturbing numbers of "Eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, with BP oil pollution believed to be the likely cause." Fishermen and scientists alike say they've never seen anything like it.
Recently I shared a report on the Gulf Coast fishing industry written by Dahr Jamail, a reporter for Al Jazeera who has been covering the BP Gulf oil spill since early on in the days of the disaster. Once again, Jamail - the journalist from Qatar - reports on these latest findings. You can check out the American mainstream media and read all about President Obama eating dog meat as a child when his step-father fed it to him in Indonesia, and other really important stuff.
And so it seems that not all of the creatures of the sea have been killed off by the effects of the oil spill, and BP's use of toxic dispersants. There are fish with sores and lesions, mutated shrimp, deformed crab and fish, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp (Shrimp lacking even eye sockets), crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don't have their usual spikes, shrimp with tumors on their heads, crabs that are dying from within (Alive, but when opened smell as if they are already dead.), and more.
"The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber," Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. "It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known".
The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP's disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic - able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus - and carcinogenic.
Cowan believes chemicals named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP's submerged oil, are likely to blame for what he is finding, due to the fact that the fish with lesions he is finding are from "a wide spatial distribution that is spatially coordinated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon, both surface oil and subsurface oil. A lot of the oil that impacted Louisiana was also in subsurface plumes, and we think there is a lot of it remaining on the seafloor".
Jamail attempted to get answers to questions arising from his investigation from various government agencies, as well as BP. One agency referred him to another, some couldn't or wouldn't talk, and while BP refused to comment for a televised interview, they did offer a statement:
"Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is among the most tested in the world, and, according to the FDA and NOAA, it is as safe now as it was before the accident."
Right. Somehow, I don't think anyone will run in to any of the executives from BP at any of the Gulf Coast eateries enjoying the seafood cuisine anytime soon.
Major commercial fishing ports on the Gulf Coast bring in over 1.2 billion pounds of fresh seafood annually, but this will likely decline as Gulf fisheries continue to be affected by BP's disaster. Louisiana provides 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, but the state's seafood industry, valued at about $2.3bn, is now fighting for its life.
Dahr Jamail, a reporter for Al Jazeera, has been covering the BP Gulf oil spill since early on in the days of the disaster. He reported last month on the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on the ocean's bounty as they face severely depleted catches and debate whether or not to join in BP’s $7.8 billion “class settlement” or sue the oil giant individually .
This is an important story for America, with the survival of tens of thousands of Gulf fishing families hanging in the balance. But for some reason, it took a journalist from Qatar to get this story out. Jamail's reporting is excellent, and for this report he goes to the fishermen themselves to get the truth.
"I was at a BP coastal restoration meeting yesterday and they tried to tell us they searched 6,000 square miles of the seafloor and found no oil, thanks to Mother Nature," Tuan Dang, a shrimper, told Al Jazeera while standing on a dock full of shrimp boats that would normally be out shrimping this time of year.
Dang's fishing experience has been bleak.
"Normally I can get 8,000 pounds of brown shrimp in four days," he explained. "But this year, I only get 800 pounds in a week. There are hardly any shrimp out there."
When he tried to catch white shrimp, he said he "caught almost nothing".
He is suing BP for loss of income, but does not have much hope, despite recent news of an initial settlement worth more than $7bn. "We'd love to see them clean this up so we can get our lives back, but I don't see that happening anytime soon."
Song Vu, a shrimp boat captain for 20 years, has not tried to shrimp for weeks, and is simply hoping that there will be shrimp to catch next season.
His experience during his last shrimping attempts left him depressed.
"The shrimp are all dead," he told Al Jazeera. "Everything is dead."
There isn't a glimmer of anything that sounds hopeful about the Gulf situation in any of the personal accounts of the fishermen, and as Jamail notes at the end of the article, "Given that after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska in 1989, herring have still not come back enough to be a viable fishing resource, this does not bode well for the Gulf seafood industry, whose fisheries are - according to scientists like Cake and Soniat - still in the initial phase of collapse."