Monthly Archives: June 2010

Local effort seeks supplies to help with Gulf clean-up

oilbirdSupplies are needed to aid in Gulf Coast clean-up  operations and may be dropped off at Blowing Smoke BBQ parking lot (514 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) Saturday, June 12 from noon to 5 p.m. or at the Coastal Pet Rescue Pet-a-Palooza event on Saturday, June 19 from noon to 8 p.m. at Molly McGuire’s on Wilmington Island. Catnip N Biscuits on Skidaway will also accept items all week long from 9 am to noon and 2 – 6 p.m. until June 28.

Needed items include:

  • Heating pads (w/o auto shut off if possible)
  • Large Rubbermaid containers with lids
  • Heating lamps
  • Large backyard portable pools like found at Wal-Mart
  • Disposable Towels
  • Plastic Trash Bags
  • Plastic Trash Cans
  • Newspaper
  • Linens
  • Sheets
  • Toothbrushes
  • Heavy Duty Rubber Gloves
  • Kennels (Small to X-Large)
  • Adhesive Bandages
  • Shovels
  • Rakes
  • Stand by fire extinguishers
  • Bottled water
  • Detergent – (Biodegradable)

The supply drive will end June 30, at which time Green Lifespace will deliver the collected items to Apalachacola River Keeper in Franklin County, FL and St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. “I believe strongly in the power of people coming together for a common cause,” said Maria Castro, President and Founder of Green Lifespace. “As an avid animal lover and environmentalist in Savannah Georgia, I felt it was my responsibility to step up and take action and invite others to do the same in support of our precious wildlife being affected.”

In addition to the supply drive, Castro will attend training on cleaning oil spill by PEC (Petrolium Education Council) so that she may volunteer her efforts while in Florida. Businesses or individuals interested in contributing toward the supply drive and travel expenses may contact Maria Castro at or (912) 844-3184.

When trends converge: Boycotts, bicycles and a car culture in decline?

In recent days, I’ve heard a lot about boycotting BP to punish it for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Boycotts against companies have in many ways become the default American reaction against behavior we don’t like. Perhaps we have become resigned to idea that our main role in our economy and society is to consume. American consumers (formerly known as American citizens) vote with our wallets. And, we are told, we should vote against BP by withholding our business. Seems straight forward enough.

The problem is our dependence on oil is bigger than the Gulf of Mexico and bigger than BP. Deepwater Horizon is arguably the largest and most publicized example of our tragic addiction to oil, but it is no way the first. Our national failure to consider more sustainable ways to live, work and get from place to place will continue to cause us increasingly severe and eventually debilitating environmental, military, political, financial and human rights headaches. And as we move on down the right hand side of the Peak Oil curve, these problems will become more numerous and difficult to solve.

Boycotting BP, then, is kind of like switching from Marlboros to Camels to spite Phillip Morris, while continuing to smoke two packs a day. We might feel vindicated in the short term and RJ Reynolds will be happy to take our money, but we’ll suffer the same terrible consequences in the end.

While our addiction to oil has shown up only at the margins of the national debate of how to best punish BP, some interesting things are happening in the background. As summarized by Richard Florida in The Great Car Reset: “Younger people today – in fact, people of all ages – no longer see the car as a necessary expense or a source of personal freedom.” If fewer young people falling in love with automobile culture, for whom are we continuing to build automobile infrastructure? In a cruel twist of fate, we may be creating it for people now (including our families and ourselves), who will become imprisoned by it later. The question is how much more money and effort we will devote to building an automobile-centric transportation system that future generations will not need and that will work against the interests of the people who are currently demanding it? How many more disasters will we tolerate to feed our demand for oil?

A local trend of note was reported yesterday by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. A recently completed bicycle census finds that bicycle use in Savannah has increased dramatically, or at least was seriously underestimated in the past. Either way, there is more excellent news about who is riding in Savannah. As described here, “Women are considered an ‘indicator species’ for bike-friendly cities”:

“If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can forget about all the detailed ‘bikeability indexes’—just measure the proportion of cyclists who are female,” says Jan Garrard, a senior lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and author of several studies on biking and gender differences.

Savannah saw a 33 percent increase in the proportion of women cyclists over the 2009 census number. That’s even more reason to provide additional bicycle infrastructure. It also offers cause to pause before spending mountains of money on road projects that will keep us hooked on driving in the short term.

Would oil off our coast cause us to change our ways?

oilspillstoppedIn the early days of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, some local media reported the Gulf Coast’s loss could be the Atlantic Coast’s gain, in the form of tourists reconfiguring their summer vacation destinations. These stories usually included mandatory expressions of sympathy for the region dealing with the environmental catastrophe. Still, the disaster was down there. The major consequence for us would be more difficulty finding space to plant our chairs and umbrellas on the more crowded beaches of Tybee Island, right? Interviews were conducted just to make sure we were in the clear. But now the story may be changing. Yesterday, the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog published a horrifying animation that illustrates where the oil might eventually go if the damaged well continues to flow.

Oil AnimationWill the realization that it could come here lead to any action besides the emotionally satisfying, but ultimately useless, railing against BP and the government that has been our only response to the spill? Will the possibility of oil slicks from Miami to Maine cause us to comprehend our role in this cataclysm? Will it help us to finally understand that it’s our unrelenting demand for cheap oil that made deep water drilling a viable business proposition? Will it prompt us to take a hard look at how we have built our communities and the way we choose to travel in our daily lives?

Here’s an excellent list of 10 ways cities and towns can kick the offshore-oil habit. How many of these are we doing locally? Aside from the wonderful expansion of on-street bicycle parking, spearheaded by Sean Brandon of the City of Savannah’s Parking and Mobility Services department, the sad answer is not much. In fact, some of the ideas mentioned in the list, including increased density and reduced automobile parking, are fighting words around here! Having been shown the consequences of our oil dependency via television coverage from the Gulf of Mexico, can we now talk seriously about our problems and begin to make responsible decisions about how to make our communities sustainable and livable? Or will it take oil drifting into Wassaw Sound to get our attention?