Marine toxicologist taking her expertise to the Gulf

At times like this we look homeward, and I checked in with my birthplace — Cordova, Alaska–via the blog of Riki Ott, Ph.D. marine toxicologist. Yes, she’s headed from Cordova to the Gulf of Mexico to be available to help. Riki and the staff of  Ultimate Civics will also show a film, Black Wave, which is so timely that it hurts me to watch, but it could help prepare residents of the Gulf region for what they face. You can view the Black Wave trailer here: Ott gave the past 21 years of her life over to scientifically documenting what happened in Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez ruined its fisheries and its formerly pristine beaches. (You dig down less than 2 feet into the beaches and the water that fills the hole is oily to this day.)

When I went to a lecture by Dr. Ott on the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, I bought 2 of her books — Sound Truth and Corporate Myths, and the new one, Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. I gave her a copy of Breakthrough Power: How Quantum-leap New Energy Inventions Can Transform Our World. However, she’s single-mindedly focused on a task that is more than enough of a challenge for one person — exposing the facts about oil-industry indifference to what they did to the lives of everyone who lived in Cordova and nearby oiled communities in 1989.

It wasn’t just the spill, the tragedy that demolished habitats, killed millions of fish, animals and plants, tore families and communities apart and wiped out businesses that depended on the fishing.  The second tragedy, caused by the oil company’s lawyers, was the Supreme Court decision of 2008 to reduce the damages that Exxon would have to pay, down to a mere ten per cent of the original jury verdict.  The fishing communities on the Gulf of Mexico need to listen to Dr. Riki Ott and her team! And the rest of us in solidarity might well watch what is happening — to ensure that there will never be a travesty of justice like that again.

Of course the biggest battle against the giants requires the people to unite. It will take unprecedented political will to replace the oil-drilling industry with any or all of the power-dense clean alternatives that have already been invented. Yes, the first step is to stop wasting resources, on the corporate and governmental (oil wars) and on our everyday level. But those folks who expect everyone to give up their refrigerators, much less their vehicles, are not being realistic. Only a small dedicated minority are prepared to revert to a pre-industrial lifestyle. It’s just not the answer…


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