April 20th will mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill. I asked Elaine Landau to share a little of the story behind her book about the spill.
I’m writing this blog post on a beautiful Florida beach. The sun is out, the sand is white, and the ocean never looked bluer. Yet just about a year ago, the forecast for this beach and others like it was not very bright. The peaceful harmony of our shoreline had been threatened by a horrific explosion on the Deepwater Horizon—an oil rig built longer and wider than a football field. After the blast there was one collective question on everyone’s mind. How would it impact life in the Gulf States?
The anxiety was real and widespread. Many of us remained glued to the TV for days at a time. We waited and listened for news reports of how bad the oil leak was and how quickly the ugly globs of oil would spread. I combed all the local papers and science bulletins for details and went to community meetings to hear what environmentalists had to say about our fate. Groups of neighbors met to see how we might help in the cleanup.
At about this time, Millbrook press approached me about writing a children’s book on the oil spill. I saw it as the perfect assignment. I had been carefully following the aftermath of the spill and this afforded me an opportunity to share my research with young people throughout the country. I set to work on it at once and that’s how my book Oil Spill! Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was born. It’s a book that explores the fate of the animals, wetlands, people, and industry in the Gulf States during the worst environmental crisis of our time. The text has a “you were there” feel to it because I was there.
Fast forward to today. While Florida’s waters once again look great, their future remains somewhat unknown. Scientists say that we may not know the full environmental ramifications of the spill on all five Gulf States for years. In the meantime, no one can afford to just sit back. It’s up to all of us to petition government and industry to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Our waters and land are too precious not to protect. That lesson hit home all too well last year with the horrendous oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.