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July 19, 2010 – The oil well in the Gulf has been capped; there is no oil coming

out at the well head. Pressure readings have been a source of concern, with some

informed observers saying they wish they were higher. Low pressure readings signify

leakage of the oil at locations other than the well (probably directly from the sea floor). High readings indicate that all the leaking oil is being held back by the cap. Though capping is not considered by anyone to be the ultimate solution, the cessation of oil pouring into the Gulf is an enormous relief to Gulf coast residents. The emotional toll on them has been huge, and a situation that, even marginally, more closely resembles normal allows residents some breathing room. Meanwhile, the well remains under close observation. The digging of relief wells continues. Grist.org informs readers that BP is scurrying up and down the Gulf coast, offering jobs to marine scientists who, they hope, will be co-opted into seeing things their way. At the same time, BP’s vendors are receiving bills for what BP considers their (the vendors) portion of disaster responsibility, an approach going over none too well, also according to Grist.

What we hear very little about is the damage done by the introduction of millions of gallons of crude oil into a marine environment. I’ve read speculation over the weeks that bottom dwellers will be hard hit, especially corals and jellyfish. I heard on NPR today that big fish populations, e.g. yellow fin tuna, blue fin tuna, and Atlantic swordfish, will crash in a few years as a result of the failure of spawning this spring and summer. Lots of methane has been released into the air and the water. Making sense of these various fragments of information is the very hard part. Their larger significance will become known to us gradually, even then in piecemeal fashion. Common sense tells us that this event has further harmed a planet already reeling under the heavy load of poisons we have released into our environment for the purpose of financial gain. Not a gain enjoyed by all of us, or even many of us. Only the greedy, corporate few.

It’s terribly important to realize that there are many of us fighting the good fight, each in our own, unique way. Whether you’ve just bought your first set of organic cotton sheets, or found your way to the aisle in the grocery store marked “natural foods” for the first time, or hopped on your bike to pick up a DVD for Saturday night viewing, you’ve made a difference, not just in the quality of your own life, but in the quality of life we all hope to enjoy in the future. Have you written to your senator about climate change legislation yet? Did you remind your neighbor about his or her commitment to start recycling? How about those books your aunt gave you that you have no intention of reading; you’re going to take those to Half Price Books instead of just chucking them into the garbage – right?

Which aspects of your life will remain unchanged by living sustainably? I don’t think there will be a single one. It’s better to get started right now, by selecting the changes you can adapt to most easily and gradually beginning to work at the more difficult ones, than to have them all shoved down your throat by the government at one time. Do yourself a favor. Get started now. Your actions are the ripples in the pond that result when a single pebble has been thrown in. Don’t wait for everyone else to get the message. Do what you know is right. Today.

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