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Jun-05-2010 15:34printcomments

Don't Forget the Rabbits

It’s long past the time for Americans to get with the program and live as if they share the planet with others.

The European rabbit in Australia
The European rabbit arrived in Australia in 1859, introduced for sport. It multiplied explosively. In 1950, a virus was used to kill rabbits, but they were not eliminated. Rabbits there today are more disease resistant.

(CALGARY, Alberta) - In my last story on the Gulf disaster, I mentioned the unexpected consequences of Thomas Astin releasing 24 non-native rabbits onto in his land in Australia.

He said at the time: "The introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting."

So it is with the Gulf oil disaster—caused by a chain of little events that, looked at individually, “could do little harm”.

The ripple effect is starting to become physically evident although it is no surprise to any knowledgeable people... will only be a bad start.

  • Damage to fragile coral reefs as far away as Cuba
  • vanishing red snapper in North Carolina
  • oxygen-depleted dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico

Sylvia Earle is the National Geographic Society’

Sylvia Earle is the National Geographic Society’s explorer in residence and a former chief scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She says the accident will affect “just about everyone on the planet, one way or another. We now understand there are limits to what we put into, or take out, of this or any other part of the ocean, without unfavourable consequences back to us.”

How bad the damage is going to be is an unknown, but significant volumes of crude will come in contact with animals, wetlands and coral. Oil will be trapped in marshes, potentially wreaking havoc for years. Also unknown is how much longer the crude will continue to gush into the Gulf—as much as 46 million gallons have already poured into Gulf waters.

The oil will render damaging effects to the water column and the seabed. Strong currents are already carrying the crude from the disaster site and mixing with currents that run through the northern Gulf. These currents move eating fish such as grouper, snapper and tuna from where they spawn to where they feed hundreds of kilometers away.

In the water column, larger predator fish dive to feed on jellyfish, squid and shrimp. Harm to any of these species, harms the fish that eat them. With enough oil exposure, generations of fish could be wiped out with potentially irrevesible effects on the entire food chain.

There will also be the loss of fragile wetlands in the Mississippi Delta which act as a sponge-like filter for the fertilizer-soaked Mississippi waters that drain into the Gulf from roughly half the continental U.S.

The marshes are also the breeding grounds for one of the richest fisheries in the world which includes shrimp and oysters.

The oil can also kill the grasses and vegetation that shield the land from the advancing sea. Future storms could re-agitate oil in the marshes and repeat the damage year after year, for years or even decades.

Two things to consider:

  • If the Midwest is America’s bread basket, the Gulf is America’s fish basket
  • Every time you fill up your car, you’re not only contributing money to support terrorists on the other side of the world, you’re also contributing to the destruction of the lives and livelihoods of billions of people who are not Americans

It’s long past the time for Americans to get with the program and live as if they share the planet with others.

Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which is why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class — a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue. From 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman, Canada’s top business writer (notably on a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting. He gave up journalism in the early 1980s because he had no interest in being a hack writer for the mainstream media and became a software developer and programmer. He retired from computers last year and is now back to doing what he loves — writing and trying to make the world a better place

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Pat June 7, 2010 8:38 am (Pacific time)

My belief is that the anger will increase continuously as more and more tragic pictures of the environmental damage are released. When energy costs rise, which they will, that anger will be directed at who is in charged, regardless of their culpability. I must admit when I see leaders recreating while this is going on does rub me the wrong way, but I do see the need to have distractions for leaders to blow off some steam. Maybe they should keep a lower profile while they do their recreation while we have such a growing tragedy happening? If and when power shortages happen, the majority of Americans will focus their anger at the current powers, so expect a dramatic election this upcoming November. Needless to say our pursuit of fulfilling our energy needs have always included tragedies, from mine cave-ins, and other accidents, but these events were generally localized. This current giant spill would not have happened in shallower water where we could have had a more hands on capability of repairing the accident. Maybe a policy of no new drilling in areas that are too deep for our technology to repair? Get more drilling on land and get more research funds into alternative energy and developing an infrastructure that can deliver that new energy to the grid. It all takes time, so we need an executive order to by-pass onerous lawsutits that are designed to impede energy development. This is a national security situation that could quickly morph into a national emergency.

Hank Ruark June 6, 2010 8:34 pm (Pacific time)

Natalie: My hungry Maine kids, rather than faint at school desk, were sharp enough just to enjoy the rabbit-stew...and so should you be, sweetie ! Your grandma is wise old cookie, pardon the expression, but comingfrommeat92 she might allow it !! Best to you and try it as stew...

Hank Ruark June 6, 2010 8:30 pm (Pacific time)

Leadership was demanded long ago, so we cannot now blame nor designate President Obama as easy fall-guy.
Re statistical status of sure-thing/failure, it's only matter-of-time/and/number-of-wells no matter how well-mannered drill operators may be made to be.
Re job-insecurity, if so provided, we now know at what costs to rest of Earth and its people when the sure-thing to happen does just that...
Can you guarantee "it won't, again !" on very first next drill to penetrate crust ???

Actions have risks and consequences, risk unable to be numeralized often, as we should know from fiscal/futile
familiarty via the housing debacle, with best/brains and biggest computers...seeking best/biggest payoff...doing their damndest --which proved to be just that: their damndest-yet from Wall Street!

If the biggest brains using the biggest computers are working with the wrong economic model, it's the equivalent of the garbage in/garbage out phenomenon. 

Hank Ruark June 6, 2010 8:22 pm (Pacific time)

Surely agree with your points, esp. one re "be mad as hell"...!
Yours also makes point of our CHOICE to ACT or NOT... not to be forgotten as massive motivation for more of what we must manage...

Natalie June 6, 2010 7:15 pm (Pacific time)

Not that anybody's asking, but my grandma used to fool us (kids) saying that the rabbit meat she was feeding us was actually chicken. She used to say that if we can't tell the difference by the look and taste, it shouldn't matter. That's how we were introduced to the Great Science of Archeology-we used to dig for bones and look at the texture to see if it was our furly friend. But jokes aside, rabbits' meat demand is on the rise. We bought a rabbit-pet from a farmer that grows them for meat. His clients are local grocery stores and some restaurants. He said that his business is growing steadily. I guess we hit the Deep Depression level. Hopefully, there's nothing lower than that.

Archer June 6, 2010 6:43 pm (Pacific time)

Henry wrote "...including deregulation start for offshore oil exploration in desperate breadth and to new deeps --13,000 feet for this BP blow-out !!..." Yes this is really a horrible situation happening at 5,000 feet. Did you know that this is the first major blowout in the over 2400 ultra deep oil wells (over 5,000 feet)in this area? And of the literally thousands of wells in the Gulf, none have had this happen before. So from a statistical point of view this is rarer than rare, but it did happen. Maybe if they were not getting so many environmental roadblocks to stay closer to shore in shallower water they could have had divers going down to repair something like this? If they decide via Obama's direction not to drill for at least 6 months, then tens of thousands of jobs will go away for years. Those who own these hundreds and hundreds of drilling platforms will simply pull up and relocate, probably off western Africa because of new oil discoveries. It is suggested that these platforms would not be back for ten plus years, and it would take that long to build new ones after the EPA roadblocks. Expect gas prices to skyrocket, and all things that need energy to also go way up, which is just about every thing, including the food you need to survive. We need some leadership, and we need it badly.

Actually, the BP blowout is not a statistical rarity but more like a statistical certainty. As Frank Rich wrote in his column today:

"In the last three years, according to the Center for Public Integrity, BP accounted for “97 percent of all flagrant violations found in the refining industry by government safety inspectors” — including 760 citations for “egregious, willful” violations (compared with only eight at the two oil companies that tied for second place). Hayward’s predecessor at BP, ousted in a sex-and-blackmail scandal in 2007, had placed cost-cutting (and ever more obscene profits) over safety, culminating in the BP Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 and injured 170 in 2005. Last October The Times uncovered documents revealing that BP had still failed to address hundreds of safety hazards at that refinery in the four years after the explosion, prompting the largest fine in the history of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (The fine, $87 million, was no doubt regarded as petty cash by a company whose profit reached nearly $17 billion last year.)" (About a half  of one percent.--on $100, it would be about fifty cents.)

Hank Ruark June 6, 2010 11:14 am (Pacific time)

DJ: Rabbit-stew was wellknown Deep Depression dish in N. Maine, in mill-town with mill burned down, where I taught my first year ('37). Re yr uncle, thought he was gonna start hopping, not be sick...hop-hop tendency was report by some after Maine- stew...!!

Henry Clay Ruark June 6, 2010 11:09 am (Pacific time)

Friend DJ: Au contraire, sir ! You seem to have mine upside-down re Cheney as jovial grandpop... But that's way-of-life with language when too thin-sliced, as we both know full well. With him ongoing lifeactions show, for me at least, which is top side up on this one... He and daughter directly responsible for essential shaping actions of wrong direction at wrong time, and both deserve international court punishment, in my book which bears endorsement from reliable national sources in some depth. But then, that requires Yankee-perception barred by border, unfortunately... moresoon on their mutual consequential actions leading in denigration of educational system, now well further reversed by comprehensive study from 50-year provost of Columbia U., under exam here, report later via OpEd...

Roger von Bütow June 6, 2010 8:48 am (Pacific time)

Hank: Actually, I was borrowing some concepts from a song by poet laureate Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan). In his title track on HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, Dylan takes on America's fascination with promoting spectacles no matter how absurd or bloody, with some jabs at organized religion, Madison Avenue, etc. He notes that a 3rd World War would only require some bleachers out on Highway 61----The irony now is that 61 terminates in New Orleans, which is hopefully where our oil dependency will end. I'm not Dylan, but I do get tired of reading/hearing how powerful prayer is, how these tragedies are God's Plan, just sign your emails NAMASTE, go do some yoga/pilates or go to church and all will be well, the earmarks of blind THEISTS. When humans hold each other accountable, take full responsibility instead of delegating or acting like God is the Tooth Fairy and intervene, we might have hope. WE, not God, will either make peace among ourselves, solve our ecological and social problems or fade away like dinosaurs. Only WE will have done it to or for ourselves. And part of that involves outrage, going to our windows like the movie NETWORK----Be mad as Hell and angrily demand a better future, stop waiting for the Prince of Peace (Jesus) or UFOs to return and do it for us. Beliefs aren't answers, actions are. Boycott ARCO (BP distributor in the USA) right now, but be prepared to boycott and dismantle all of those who are killing our planet's future out of short term greed, stealing our heritage by draining Earth's natural environs. These greedies see them as corporate fiscal resources to be exploited when they are in fact inextricable from the life forms and ecologies they sustain.

Natalie June 5, 2010 11:24 pm (Pacific time)

Ah, Sir Roger von Bütow, your words SO don't correspond with your status. You know, we can get atackingly protective when carried away too much. BTW, Australians don't realize that rabbits could be a good business opportunity. Export them in the form of meat. It's, actually, money running around, waiting for a good net. Yes, girls and boys, chocolate eggs are not the only thing that is edible in rabbits. Look it up for yourself.

Yes, Natalie, there were benefits from the rabbit population explosion. Trapping rabbits during the Great Depression and during WW2, supplied food and extra income to many people.

Here's a little rabbit story. I had an uncle Max, now long gone, who told me once that he was visiting people out in the country and they were having Sunday dinner. After the meal he was asked how he enjoyed it and he said it was good chicken. It wasn't chicken he was told, it was rabbit. On hearing that, he said, he headed out the door and went behind the barn where he threw up. 

Hank Ruark June 5, 2010 7:46 pm (Pacific time)

Murdoch would slice off 20%, then broadcast for BP's full benefit.
Fully appreciate your points
and look for more...

Re Cheney, "grandfather" does NOT confer any forgiveness for past sins, as most in that status can tell you.

Never Forget he's main man of Project for New American Century,setting direction, tone, pace and details for much of Reagan-era beginnings of massive worldwide mess we now facing consequentially, including deregulation start for offshore oil exploration in desperate breadth and to new deeps --13,000 feet for this BP blow-out !!

Cheney as a grandfather is a joke! A little too subtle for you? 

Roger von Bütow June 5, 2010 5:04 pm (Pacific time)

Have you considered asking Eileen Fleming's help? Maybe she and her ilk can pray the oil away, these theists are beginning to proliferate like the rabbits.....Question: If God caused the spill, is that a miracle, and if so can it be "miracled" (prayed) away? I think Eileen needs some advanced theological education in the differences, the nuances between THEISM and DEISM.........America's Founders were, of course, DEISTS. They'd probably hang these BP bastards and not lose a moments rest. Personally, I'd toss the BP and their contractors corporate boards (Halliburton, Cheney, Bush et al) into a pen and let the fisherman's families have at them. Sell it pay-per-view globally, let the families have 100% of the advertisement profits. Maybe Rupert Murdoch would show it on FOX, let loudmouth slimeball Glenn Beck do the ringside work? If America wants a bloody Roman spectacle, it has surely started one in the Gulf by allowing known criminals to drill in this hemisphere and near our shining shores.

Why does everyone always pick on Dick Cheney. He's a grandfather, for crying out loud! 

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