The Beacon

Blog Tags: Oil Spill

John Francis at TEDxOilSpill: Listen, Then Act

Like many of the messages at Monday's TEDxOilSpill conference, John Francis’s was one of hope. Francis, who hasn't used a motorized vehicle since the 1970s and undertook a 17-year vow of silence, gave one of the funniest and most moving talks of the day, underscoring the crucial role that listening plays in activism.

In the early 1970s, Francis stopped riding in vehicles after witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. He later decided to take a vow of silence, initially for just one day, "because," he said, "I was talking too much." It was more than 6,000 days later before he spoke again. During that time he went on a pilgrimage by foot across America on behalf of the environment and world peace.

Francis finally spoke at the Washington, DC celebration of the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990 to “speak for the environment” and to thank the audience for their participation at the event. 

At Monday's conference, he urged the audience to not just listen, but act. “We’re going to have to do something," he said. "This is our moment. We are going to have to change our lives. I’m inviting us to change our lifestyle. We have such responsibility and such power that we can really make a big difference.”

Here's a short video I took of Francis (he played banjo briefly before he spoke), and to learn more, you can watch his full TED talk from 2008.

John Francis at TEDxOilSpill from Oceana on Vimeo.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From yesterday's Examiner:

“The spill was tragically timed for sea turtles that are nesting in the Gulf right now,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for the Center [for Biological Diversity]. “Newly hatched sea turtles are swimming out to sea and finding themselves in a mucky, oily mess. News that BP has blocked efforts to rescue trapped sea turtles before they’re burned alive in controlled burns is unacceptable.”  


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day #2

From Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald:

"Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he has got his life back, he would say," [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel said of the outing at the yacht race, alluding to an earlier remark by Hayward that incensed political Washington.

 ...

Emanuel added: "What's more important is, do the people down there in that area have their life back? Do they have their livelihood back?"


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Join Hands Across the Sand on June 26th

This coming Saturday, June 26th, thousands of people will join hands -- literally -- on beaches around the world in opposition to offshore drilling. Will you be one of them?

Hands Across the Sand isn’t about politics. It’s about protecting our oceans, coastal economies and marine life from the disastrous effects of offshore drilling.

Participating is easy. Just go to your beach on June 26 at 11 AM in your time zone. Form lines in the sand and at 12:00, join hands. It’s a peaceful, simple way to send a message to state legislators, Governors, Congress and President Obama: It's time to end offshore drilling and transition to clean energy.

The movement started in Florida this past February, when thousands of Floridians representing 60 towns and cities and over 90 beaches joined hands to protest the efforts by the Florida Legislature and the US Congress to lift the ban on oil drilling in the near and off shores of Florida.

Check out this video from the event:

Hands Across The Sand from Walton Outdoors on Vimeo.

Join hands with us and draw a line in the sand against offshore oil drilling.


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Join Us at TEDxOilSpill Next Monday

TED conferences “bring together the world's leading thinkers and doers for a series of talks, presentations and performances.” So it was only a matter of time until TED tackled the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Next Monday, TEDxOilSpill will tackle the tough questions raised by the ongoing environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. And you can be a part of the conversation.

Topics will include: mitigation of the spill and the impending cleanup efforts; energy alternatives; policy and economics; and new technology that can help us build a self-reliant culture.

The presenters will include the following experts:


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Trying To Understand The Scope Of The Oil Disaster

Today, senior campaign director Jackie Savitz and I went on the first boat trip for conservation groups to observe NOAA's attempt to understand the scope of the oil spill and how to respond to it. The crew we shadowed was trying to measure oil underneath the Gulf's surface. Along the way, we saw shrimpers turned oil skimmers, reddish oil on the water and sadly, a pod of dolphins including calves swimming and feeding in the oil-polluted waters.

In this video, Jackie summarizes a lot of what we saw. We'll have much more video and photos from the trip soon, so stay tuned. Thanks to NOAA for allowing us to come along and learn about this critical work.


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A Parade Of Hopes For Gulf Salvation In Louisiana

Plan for saving the Gulf

Michael Matherne displays his plan for capping the oil leak at a meeting in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Photo: Oceana/Suzannah Evans

In a civic center in St. Bernard Parish last night, BP and government agencies working on the oil spill set up folding chairs and posterboards describing their work in a kind of high school science fair approach to meeting the public. There was NOAA, setting up vials of simulated dispersed oil like a flight of wine; there was the Coast Guard captain in charge of the recovery, Roger Laferriere, giving a heartfelt speech about his dedication to Louisiana with the earnest aplomb of a student body president.

But while the attendees were dominated by a scrum of reporters and camera crews, there were a few hopeful locals mostly interested in meeting one man: Kurt A. Hansen, a project manager with the Coast Guard standing between a table and a sign plainly marked "Alternative Response Technology."

Hansen's job is to take ideas from the public about the fixing the oil spill. He has the inscrutable expression of a man who’s heard it all.

When I approached his table, Hansen was listening patiently to a man complaining that he’d been ignored by BP for weeks.


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The Domino Effect in Grand Isle

Grand Isle resident Patrick Shay set up a cemetery on the front lawn of his family's raised cottage. The 101 handcrafted white crosses are a memorial to the summer pastimes that have been lost due to the Gulf oil spill: Beach sunrises. Shrimp Creole. Shrimp Etouffé. Boiled Crabs. Sand castles. Flying a kite. Floundering. Playing volleyball. Summer fun.

Normally, Shay would spend long summer days at the beach across from his house with his wife and son. Instead, dozens of cleanup workers in tyvek suits are scattered along the seven-mile stretch of beach off the Louisiana coast.


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Dr. Daniel Pauly on The Spill

Oceana board member and renowned fisheries biologist Daniel Pauly spoke to OnEarth magazine about the gulf oil spill’s effect on marine life and fisheries.

“We cannot really grasp the measure of this accident because we don’t know if we are at the beginning, the middle or near the end of it,” he says.

Watch the video for more from Pauly.

Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.


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New Orleans Residents Find Solidarity at Oil Spill Teach-in

Emily Peterson, a southern Louisiana native and Foundations Associate here at Oceana, has been in Louisiana witnessing the effects of the oil spill. She sent us this dispatch from a teach-in she attended.

Yesterday evening a crowd of New Orleans residents attended a teach-in to discuss the oil spill tragedy unfolding in our backyard on the Gulf. The event offered residents an opportunity to learn the facts and ask questions in a non-politicized environment, and to build a sense of solidarity to cope with this unprecedented environmental and cultural tragedy.


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