The Gulf Spill: Close and Far

by Sara Dykman

When people see us lingering outside a grocery store or at a campground there are two typical reactions. The first is to avoid any sort of contact. These interactions are – as one would guess – short. The second reaction is to seek us out, ask a great deal of questions, and inject a comment or two. These interactions are longer, more satisfying, and typically very interesting. About every other day, one of these conversations shifts to the current oil spill in the gulf. These conversations have got me thinking and pondering the causes and effect of this crisis.

A less than typical interaction in Seattle, WA

A less than typical interaction in Seattle, WA

And crisis it is. By now we have all heard about the oil spill, the latest numbers on the staggering amount of oil in the gulf, and the implications it has for the coming decades. Everyone can agree that the oil spewed into the gulf is not going to go away quickly. Instead the oil will linger and travel up the food chain. Resident populations of wildlife will be effected as will the many animals that use the coastal waters during their migrations. Folks depending on the sea for food and work will suffer. After reading just a few articles on the Deepwater Horizon disaster, one is left with a few options:

1. Spiral into a maddening, cynical depression.
2. Ignore it all and pretend that it will go away.
3. Start writing letters, limit the amount of oil you use (and thus the number of wells companies like BP can make a profit on), and tell all you know to do the same.
4. A bit of all of the above.

I believe the best option is #4: a bit everything.

We don’t need to SPIRAL into a maddening and cynical depression, but we should at least morn the countless animals stoically living or silently killed by our negligence and greed. No, let’s not SPIRAL into depression, but let’s at least be sad about the losses.

And believe it or not, I think we need to do just a tad bit of ignoring. A literary hero of mine, Mr. Edward Abbey (more eloquent than I ever hope to be), wrote: “Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a halfhearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can.”

As we enjoy this land and the adventures it provides us with, I must remember that we are a global community sharing one home. My goal (on bike49 and in my life) is to get more bikes on the roads and help curb the need for oil drilling, oil wars, and oil spills. When we began bike49, it was of course because we wanted to go on an epic adventure, but also because we wanted to have a positive effect on our community. Bike49 is my way of helping clean up the Gulf.
The Gulf of Mexico seems like miles away (and it is), but it is also close and effects us all. May the stories of our journey and the birds of the gulf inspire you to consider new ways of transporting.