One year after B.P.’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, “The oil isn’t gone; it’s just not where we can see it,” says Samantha Joye, a University of Georgia researcher. During five sea floor expeditions since the spill, Joye has has found oil coating coral ecosystems in the Gulf. While that means life on land is returning to normal—fewer fishing boats will be docked this summer and beach areas have become much cleaner—beneath the waves, species like dolphins, turtles and whales are suffering losses that will not manifest for years. And while the full environmental toll of the spill remains unknown, the government has moved to approve new exploratory drilling permits.
What’s the Big Idea?
There is a difference in priorities when it comes to oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. While some sources speak of the spill’s toll on the environment, The Wall Street Journal reported on the spill’s toll on oil production one year after the moratorium on offshore drilling was declared. Neither side could be called overtly cynical. Rather, the conflict highlights the tension between the nation’s current energy needs—much higher than any other country on Earth—and the direct and indirect harms of relying on petroleum to power our lives. All the world’s oil profits cannot undo an ecosystem polluted beyond repair.