Oil has hurt us in many ways

Posted May 06, 2010, at 7:42 p.m.

The final reason for kicking our oil addiction: A massive, apparently unstoppable, oil gusher is spewing over 200,000 gallons of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico, heading for Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

When it reaches the Florida Keys, it’s expected to get caught up in the Gulf Stream, which perpetually heads up our way. It then goes up around Greenland, across the North Atlantic, around the British Isles, Africa and back to the Southern Hemisphere where it picks up warmth and comes around again.

How far will that oil travel? No one knows, but predictions are dire.

Oil floats on water preventing oxygen from absorbing into the water, thereby suffocating creatures living underneath. This commercial spill could poison the oceans for a very long time.

We’ve known for years that burning fossil fuels — oil and coal — has raised Earth’s temperature to a dangerous level. Now this.

Prices of food, gasoline, heating oil, clothing, computers, toys, practically everything, will be going up very soon. Even if it’s not costing corporations, this will be their excuse.

Oil has harmed us in many ways. Plastics are made from oil and are now swirling around in the world’s oceans where they’re eaten by ocean creatures, and we’re eating those creatures.

Pesticides are made from oil, and not only are they sickening us, but all life on Earth. Of special note are honeybees, which are very sensitive to pesticides. Will the not-so-wild blueberry growers stop spraying pesticides so honeybees can live?

Many bee-killing pesticides have been banned in Europe because important food plants need honeybees for pollination. How do we save what’s left of the honeybee population if chemical-dependent growers will not stop spraying pesticides?

Perhaps this spill will increase the price of pesticides making their use uneconomical. We can only hope.

This huge spill is probably going to affect, one way or another, most people in the world. We need to be thinking how to survive, considering cold weather is only six to seven months away. Here are a few ideas from someone who has lived off the grid:

Get a good wood stove so you can heat your home and cook with plain, old wood, our locally available fuel.

Have a neighbor till a garden in your lawn, or, better, get some used or new lumber and build a bottomless box and fill it with good soil from your own untreated lawn or buy it, no sewer sludge — read labels, and buy a little hand fork with several tines to ruffle the surface for planting.

Plant a garden with food you can eat fresh from the garden: salad greens, broccoli, tomatoes, peas, carrots, string beans, whatever you like.

Plant food crops that store well for winter: potatoes, winter squash, carrots, beets, etc. You can order seeds from www.fedcoseeds.com, www.johnnyseeds.com or www.superseeds.com — all in Maine.

For protein, get half a dozen chickens with a rooster — talk to your neighbors and offer to share eggs and-or chicks.

You can also form a group to get your town to spend its “welfare” dollars on public, community gardens in open spaces such as parks, people’s large lawns if they’re willing, fallow farms and so on. Just get growing food now.

Another important, permanent way to cut back on fossil fuels is to get windows installed along the south side of your house. Sun will pour in all winter, heating your home and eliminating the need for lights during the day. You will feel better, too, because you’ll be exposed to the sun’s healthy rays instead of artificial light.

No need to panic, but we do need to move quickly into self-sufficiency. We can also form cooperative agreements with good neighbors so you and your neighborhood will be food-secure now and in the coming winters.

We’ve been a little too fat and comfy for a little too long, I’m afraid. This monster oil spill will wreak havoc worldwide, and we are not immune. Let’s prepare now, before we’re caught unprepared.

Do right, and risk consequences.

Nancy Oden of Jonesboro is an environmental and political activist. Her e-mail address is cleanearth@acadia.net.

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