Photo credit: NRDC pix via Flickr/CC BY
Aaaaand here's why we need good citizen and student-lead journalism in the Gulf. BP has launched an 'educational campaign' in Louisiana to give students the most "current information available" about the Gulf spill. Coincidentally, the most "current information available" appears to include explaining, in BP's words, those pesky "myths" out there about "dispersants, subsurface oil and seafood safety." Myths indeed. The Tri-Parish Times has the news:
Over the last five months, BP has had a prominent presence along the Gulf Coast at various local government meetings and outreach centers - but this time, BP has made its way into the Terrebonne Parish school system.I don't know about you, but wouldn't leave it to the corporation whose negligence is responsible for the worst environmental disaster in US history to "dispel" those "myths" -- also known in certain non-BP affiliated circles as very real, very troubling concerns -- to the very kids who are now forced to grow up in the wake of a crisis that will have an impact for years to come. Who is BP to tell kids whether they should or shouldn't be concerned about the toxic dispersents they used? Whether subsurface oil will be a problem for years down the road or not? Whether the sea life has been fouled or not?
Eighth grade students of Oaklawn Junior High School were able to sit in on one of four scheduled science demonstrations last Wednesday prepared by BP and Gary Ott of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The demonstrations were designed to better educate the students about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and give them the most current information available.
"The primary purpose [of the demonstration] is to inform and educate students on the methods used to clean up the oil in the Gulf and the wetlands and marshes," Janella Newsome, BP media liaison said in a press release. "It's also to dispel myths about dispersants, subsurface oil and seafood safety."
This role should fall to independent researchers and educators uninfluenced by corporate self interests -- not BP. That NOAA, as part of the Obama administration's federal spill response effort (which itself has an interest in defending the practices it allowed BP to undertake after the spill) has allowed this collaboration to proceed seems inappropriate. And yet, the program is slated for expansion. From the Tri-Parish Times: "This is the first session of many going on," Charles Gaiennie, a BP representative said at Oaklawn's library last week."
Note that I'm not suggesting that this is some devious effort of BP to brainwash Gulf kids -- it's simply inappropriate for BP to be so heavily involved in such an effort.
More on the BP Gulf Spill and Education
14 Year-old Girl Confronts BP for Lack of Oil Spill Education ...
BP Helped Write Environmental Curriculum for California's Public Schools
Players in the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (Slideshow)