It is hard to believe that April is already here! It seems like the Christmas holidays were just a few weeks away, but not so. Signs of spring are apparent everywhere: the buds on the trees, the planting of the tomatoes in my backyard, the warmer (although wet) days, even a few miniature figs on my fig tree! But with the passage of time, and with the coming of April in particular, we come close to the two-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. This two-year mark brings a mixture of emotions. Sadness, because of the eleven people that lost their lives and the families of these men who were severely affected by this event. Sadness, because of the many people that suffered economic hardship as a result of the spill. And sadness because of the environmental impact the oil spill had, and continues to have, on the ecosystem in the Gulf. However, this two-year mark should also be a time of hope and reflection on the lessons we have learned and the knowledge we have gained since then, so that the next time something on this scale happens, we will be better prepared, not only in the Gulf region, and in California, but in the entire world. At the library the other day, a book caught my eye, and I have been engrossed in it ever since. It is Carl Safina’s, “A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout” (New York: Crown Publishers, 2011). This book is an interesting account of the snowball effect leading up to the blowout on April 20, 2010, and the ticking of the clock in the months that followed and as the spill unfolded. In the spirit of “reflection”, I wanted to share with you a thought-provoking quote from the preface of this book: “In the end, this is a chronicle of a summer of pain – and hope. Hope that the full potential of this catastrophe would not materialize, hope that the harm done would heal faster than feared, and hope that even if we didn’t suffer the absolute worst, we’d still learn the big lesson here. We may have gotten two out of three. That’s not good enough. Because: there’ll be a next time.”
The big lesson, I believe, is that we need to constantly be on our toes. We need to learn from each of these incidents because, as Safina says, we know that it isn’t a matter of IF the next “big” one will occur, it is a matter of WHEN it will occur. Happy spring and happy April to all.