The magnitude of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico should be a catalyst for changing how we impact the environment and our use of oil. Here are a few of the needed steps we MUST try if we are to kick our addiction to oil and mitigate the ecological damage the oil is causing.
In no particular order:
PROTECT THE GULF’S WATERSHED
We can mitigate some of the damage of the oil plumes by dealing with the Gulf dead zone caused by the runoff of fertilizers into the Mississippi River. Fixing the dead zone is easier and cheaper then cleaning up the oil.
Yeah, the farm lobby will howl, but the fix is simple and cheap – vegetated buffers on all tributaries to the Mississippi can significantly cut nutrient loading. Viola! no more hypoxia in gulf due to farm/lawn runoff. Okay, urban runoff is also a problem, but not the same order of magnitude.Nutrient Control Actions for Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico
RESTORE THE COASTAL WETLANDS
These wetlands are the nursery of the ecological abundance of the gulf, and protect the shore from storms. Their loss has been caused by a wide range of human activities including the channelization of the Mississippi & the loss of getting new sediment, the creation of canals for oil and gas exploitation and transportation, and pollution.
The easy fixes are to close obsolete channels like the MRGO to prevent currents from eroding the fragile wetland soils. Removing levees and floodwalls brings a range of risks and is controversial.
Rebuilding wetlands is complex and costly. This requires lots of sediments and soil to be dredged and deposited where needed. Then the plants must be established (if the conditions are right).