We are nearing the five year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We were lucky.
The oil plumes did not reach our shores. We had no need to pursue lengthy battles in court for the impacts to our economies, wildlife and citizen health. But maybe next time.
Maybe next time we get to be the dumb goose that allows oil exploration without adequate oversight. Maybe we will finally get to see plumes of smoke, from burning oil, choke out our sunsets; and wildlife, tourists and countrymen covered in oil. Or maybe not.
Maybe the oil will stay on the west side of Andros where the oil exploration licenses are. Maybe the oil will remain captured in the beautiful Cay Sal bank killing only the gigantic coral heads, fields of sea grass, conch nurseries, turtle nesting beaches, and seabird colonies and schools of Horseeye Jack and Snapper. Maybe only the West Side of Andros will be wiped out along with its fish, conch and lobster nurseries. Maybe we can continue in New Providence or Grand Bahama oblivious to the actions of our leaders and the oil companies.
Maybe the typical Bahamian will be able to ignore the calamity. Maybe the tourists will still come to swim in our polluted waters, catch our oiled fish and see our black beaches.
I doubt it. Our government does not have the safeguards in place to regulate the oil industry to ensure proper training, equitable job opportunities, or pay for Bahamians; to hold emergency response supplies and personnel at the ready in the event of an environmental disaster; to support fishing and tourism economies and local communities during times of recovery (20 plus years); or to educate Bahamians on the impacts of oil and extraction.
If there is an oil spill in the Bahamas, we will not be lucky at all. We will be ruined.
Our beautiful environment is the goose that continues to lay golden eggs of fish and ecotourism, but our leaders seem eager to cut off its head for the prospect of oil.
If you want some more numbers, see my earlier letter on Reearth’s page.
Photo by Scott Johnson: Myself covered in oil from the constant oil slick in the area surround Clifton Heritage Park after snorkeling out to see the Atlas sculpture with students.
Sincerely,Ancilleno Davis, M.Sc.