10 May 2010

DawnWatch: BP oil disaster -- coverage highlights. Please ask the media for more

The biggest news for animals over the last week has been the BP oil catastrophe in the gulf.  Millions of animals, including 5,000 dolphins, endangered tortoises, pelicans, and countless fish live in that gulf and are dying slow and agonizing deaths from ingesting and inhaling the oil that our species has been vomiting into their home at a rate of 200,000 gallons per day. I find myself thinking of Avatar, where humans were invading Pandora after having totally trashed Earth. Think of what the Gulf of Mexico was like just weeks ago, and what it is like now: it seems that we really are going to completely trash our planet if we don't change our ways, and change fast.

I happened to see a screening of the movie "Fuel" last week. Winner of the 2008 Best Documentary award at the Sundance Film Festival, it is now more timely than ever. It focuses on what our dependence on oil is doing to us and the earth, and it gives clean energy solutions. Please check out the trailer at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPrH5za6BlE and get a copy of the DVD when it come out on June 22.

The BP explosion came just weeks after President Obama announced plans for more offshore drilling along our coastlines, an announcement that broke the hearts of environmentalists who had thought they had elected a president with similar values. While it is hard, as an animal holocaust is underway in the gulf, to even think of a silver lining, it seemed at first that at least this blanket of oil over the gulf would bury those plans. Yet as oil poured into the gulf Obama said, "Let me be clear. I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security.''

The moratorium the administration has announced on new offshore drilling is for three weeks -- until the cause of the BP explosion is determined. It doesn't take into account that the next accident that wipes out a different ocean might have a different cause.

I urge you to please sign the Environment America petition asking Obama to reverse course on offshore drilling.
The petition is at: http://tinyurl.com/24sqvf6

I have been scouring the media for animal news from the gulf. There isn't much. CNN's Brooke Baldwin has been on the scene at the gulf.  I happened to tune in the first day she took a boat out to the spill. The boat pulled up alongside a sea turtle who we saw coming up trying to get air in the midst of the oil. At least 30 sea turtles have washed up dead so far.

The Fox News website has a slideshow headed, "Animal Victims of the Gulf Spill," including some of the turtles, at http://www.foxnews.com/slideshow/scitech/2010/05/03/oil-spill-animals-rescue/#slide=1
(My thanks to Richard Hernandez for that link.)

The Center for Biological Diversity has been following events and posting relevant press. It is a good place to keep track of what's going on.
You'll find their posts at http://tinyurl.com/38hqun5
(I thank Candaca Rocha for that link.)

I was shocked by the May 5 Washington Post story, by Juliet Eilperin, headed  "U.S. exempted BP's Gulf of Mexico drilling from environmental impact study."
It tells us,
"The Interior Department exempted BP's calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year." It discusses the "decision by the department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP's lease at Deepwater Horizon a 'categorical exclusion' from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)."
That story is on line at:

Media interviews with representatives from the Center for Biological Diversity about that exemption, and the lobby money behind it, are well worth watching. Two of the most compelling have been on media outlets on the opposite end of the political spectrum, reminding us that environmentalism, like animal protection, need not be a partisan issue.

The Fox News White House correspondent, Major Garret, gave us a short and hard-hitting report about the exemption, which you can watch on line at:
If you are a Fox News viewer, please let the network know how much you appreciated the report and that you want to see more on the BP oil spill crisis. Fox News takes comments via email at yourcomments@foxnews.com

Democracy Now brought us similar though more in depth coverage on May 7. You can watch it on line at:
You can also email it to your friends, by clicking on the "email" link on that page.

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman also did a radio blog on this issue, headed "BP: Billionaire Polluter." It is well worth hearing or reading on line at:

Please thank Democracy Now for its coverage of the disaster and ask them to keep on the story. Democracy Now takes comments at http://www.democracynow.org/contact?to=8

CNN's Jane Velez Mitchell, always superb on animal and environmental issues, did an "Issues" segment in which she called for a move to electric cars.
You can watch the brief segment on line at: http://tinyurl.com/265fqdd
Please recommend it to your friends (by hitting the "recommend" button) and please thank Jane for her continued commitment to animal and environmental issues -- her producers need to hear how much their viewers appreciate her stance. Jane takes comments at

The Center for Biological Diversity is calling for the resignation of big oil buddy, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in light of the Gulf calamity. You can read more about Salazar at:
Animal advocates need to learn more about Salazar. His department is also responsible for the recent delisting of Grey Wolves as an endangered species. Further, the "All-Creatures" animal advocacy site has a petition to have him removed as Interior Secretary due to his support for the ranching community and participation in the mustang round-ups and decimation of America's wild horse population. You'll find that petition on line at:

Despite the animal annihilation underway in the Gulf, I have found relatively little information on animal news lists about the issue. I was therefore struck by Joshua Green's superb blog on the website for The Atlantic, headed "No Energy," in which he discusses what seems to be a lack of appropriate outrage. He shares the Obama quote that I shared above, Obama's commitment to more drilling, and he writes:

"In the wake of the Gulf oil spill, the benefits of clean sources of energy are clearer than ever. What's so infuriating about the Washington response so far is that there's no indication the disaster has prompted Obama or anyone else to reconsider his position. In the past, major disasters shifted the terms of debate. This time, nobody is budging. .... Washington eventually responds to public outrage. (Just ask Goldman Sachs.) But for now, energy can join the long list of issues on which Washington leadership has vanished."

The full column is on line at
You can comment right below it or thank him for it by email at joshuagreen@theatlantic.com

I hope when the animal advocacy community watches some of the interviews above, about the deals made with BP, and thinks about the millions of animals dying slowly in the gulf, we will see some of that outrage to which the White House responds. The media has a huge impact on public thinking so please encourage the media to stay on this story.

CNN takes feedback for general news at  http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form1.html?39
Let them know we want interviews with environmentalists such as the representatives of the Center Biological Diversity.

Please send letters to the editor to your local papers, and contact your favorite shows, asking for coverage to keep what is going on in the gulf top of mind for the public. The animals and the Earth need your voice.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts only if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.)

Please go to www.ThankingtheMonkey.com to learn about Karen Dawn's book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals," which was chosen last year by the Washington Post as one of the "Best Books of The Year!"

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