Friday, April 23, 2010

Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

Well, here we go again. An accident happened on a British Petroleum oil rig that was doing exploratory work to find a new spot to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, not far from the LA and MS coasts. The rig caught fire on Tuesday and actually sank on Earth Day, yesterday. I chose to post an NPR article because I find their work is typically objective, and does not typically attack any person or company so you can draw your own conclusions.

Let's put the irony of an oil spill on Earth Day aside and discuss the issues at hand. It appears 11 crew members have died with 4 more in serious condition. There are currently ??? rigs active in the Gulf of Mexico alone, and although BP is taking the initiative with the clean up, the potential disaster could be as much as 336,000 gallons a day that may leak from the reservoir that was tapped and about to be plugged so they could return and pump for real production. Keep this in mind, that leak would have to continue at that pace for an entire month in order to reach the status of the Exxon Valdez's 11,000,000 gallons... yeah, that's millions.
This article gives some insight into modern day clean up procedures and the Marine Spill Response Corp. has the reins. This is an independent non-profit created in 1990 specifically to handle problems like this one. What scares me is the necessity for its creation in the first place. I thought you might like to learn more about this company, so I have included their website too:

I plan to watch the progression of this issue closely in the media - will it get the warranted attention? Will it get the press of disasters such as the Exxon Valdez? I know individuals who will not stop at an Exxon station solely because of that environmental debacle. So, how will BP be portrayed in this case?

There are also many discussions about the dangers of offshore drilling. Just in case you don't make it all the way to the end of the article, this rig was inspected 3 times THIS year alone - with the most recent inspection being April 1st.... Hm, that IS April Fool's Day, do you think...? nah, I'm sure the inspector took everything very seriously.

RATING: ~~~~~ (5 out of 5 waves) you NEED to read this article and get people talking about these issues

My Earth Day was spent with family, friends, and at Whole Foods Market's Sierra Club benefit day. I bought my groceries, got a canvas bag to add to my collection, and attended Mommy & Baby Yoga with my 10-month old son.

How did you spend the day?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lecture - Dr. Edie Widder

First of all, I feel priveleged to say that I have met Dr. Widder on multiple occasions during my time at Harbor Branch, and she is a fantastic person. She tenaciously rollerbladed around the campus and has a wonderful, approachable demeanor. Oh yeah, and the woman is brilliant too.

I adore how she started the talk with the quote:

“People protect what they love” – Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Isn't that profound? The guy made some mistakes in his life, but also had such an amazing impact on the culture and progression of marine research and conservation that he will always have my endearing respect.

Her talk took place as part of the Mission Blue Voyage and gave the presentation in the Galapagos. Here is the link for Dr. Edie Widder's "Glowing life in an underwater world"

I love how she started her talk with “my addiction began with….” Isn’t that why this blog exists? She is a ground breaking scientist who is well spoken and easy to understand whether you are a seasoned researcher or a budding student. I will always think of her as the “queen of bioluminescence” and feel honored to have attended her talks in the past. Now her work with ORCA continues to make great strides.

Dr. Widder gives a complete background on her research and the biology of bioluminescence. She notes that drag nets coming up from 3000 feet yield 80-90% animals that make light. She shows her work with the “splat screen” used on the Johnso-Sea-Link submersible. It is cool she has never shied away from adapting technology to be used in deep ocean research.

This discussion also covers the importance of bioluminescence in chemistry, evoluntionarily, and biologically. There was even a recent Nobel Prize given for research on glowing jellyfish. Widder covers her journey through an amazing career as a marine researcher, the background and biology for her work, and she even gives props to Pixar's Finding Nemo and the use of bioluminescence. Widder's personality shine throughout this talk and you can even hear the audience laughing over some of the comments and analogies.

RATING: ~~~~~(5 out of 5 waves) an absolute MUST SEE

Lots of nature centers and environmental facilities (zoo & aquariums included) offer scientific lectures from some pretty spectacular people. These are often FREE, so check out what your local area offers... you may learn something or even find a new passion!

I know I do!