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BP Should Face Cruelty Charges

Posted by at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)


BP Should Face Cruelty Charges by Ingrid Newkirk

©2010 Jupiterimages Corporation

BP has more than the loss of human life, livelihoods, and tourism to answer for. And so do the government inspectors who allowed this corporation—as seemingly greedy as the bankers, mining companies, and marine park owners whose careless conduct has resulted in similar destruction-to put profit over safety.

If the criminal investigation of BP and those who signed off on the drill-site inspection sheets and safety assurances shows willful fraud and deception, dereliction of duty, bribes, or who knows what else, there is one additional set of criminal charges that should be added to the list: cruelty to animals. For this is the largest case of cruelty to animals in U.S. history.

We are being spared, for political reasons, some think, but mercifully perhaps, most of the photographs of the animals who have died and are still dying, slowly, painfully, not just coated but drenched in oil. It is hard for anyone with a heart to see the gulls and pelicans, blinking up through a thick coat of muck that prevents them from flying, eating, taking a drink of water and escaping the burning heat of June. It is even too much to come across a snippet of video that shows a huge rubber-gloved hand gently plucking a tiny crab out of a puddle of black glop. Only the outline of his body tells you what he is, although his struggles tell you that he is still alive. For the moment.

For most of the animals, any help is too late. Studies show that even if wildlife rescuers capture an oiled bird in time, before much damage has been done, the terror of being handled by a predator, of being force-fed, doused, and scrubbed, is too much for their pounding hearts to endure. Even if they survive the trauma of being cleaned and re-cleaned, it is suspected that most die after their release.

And in this case, one must ask, “Where can they be released?” Many birds mate for life; others are lost without their flocks. Their nesting grounds now lie under the oil slick; their friends and family are dead or dying. What is there for them to return to?

And what of the turtles, the dolphins, and—dare I write it—the whales? Cetacean experts do not expect whales to escape this slick completely. Once killed for their own oil, will they now be killed by ours?

And don’t laugh, but what of the fish? As inconvenient as it may be to think about it, given the seafood buffets of summer, studies show that fish feel pain and fear just as acutely as mammals do.

Whether or not BP is charged with cruelty, there are many things that we can and should do other than just pointing a finger. Some suggestions are to provide less support to oil companies by consuming less oil, by buying fewer oil-based plastic goods (the beaches of Hawaiian atolls are inches deep in discarded plastic) and by following the recommendations issued by the United Nations this month and going vegan in order to save the waterways, forests, and ozone layer. Paul McCartney’s “Meat-Free Monday” project is getting institutions and individuals to look at the environmental devastation caused by energy-intensive factory farming and to do something about it by reducing meat consumption. In taking responsibility, President Obama would do well to announce that he, too, is embracing at least that one baby step.

Those responsible in the corporate world and in government can never truly make amends. How do you “make it up” to those who are suffering and dying in agony out there at this very moment or to those who have already lost their lives or loved ones? However, before looking away from the umpteenth heart-wrenching photo of an oil-coated pelican, the rest of us can do something positive and make some personal choices ourselves so that none of the oil companies will be able to claim consumer demand as a reason for misbehaving. It’s just a thought.

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7 Comments

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    Naila M. Sanchez says...

    June 18th, 2010, 2:12 pm

    I am sickened by this oil mess! Without a doubt, BP must pay for the loss of wildlife and the suffering for generations of loss of habitat!

    Kathryn says...

    June 18th, 2010, 2:34 pm

    I ditto that, Ingrid. I never realized the depth of my love for the planet until now when I see such hideous devestation which is so insidious that it will last for generations to come. Cry! Cry!!

    meleri says...

    June 18th, 2010, 3:07 pm

    absolutely – BP are behaving disgracefully – they must clean up and pay up and do something to save the lives of the birds and animals and do so quickly. (I am from the UK)

    Vicky Slay says...

    June 18th, 2010, 10:22 pm

    They should be charged with cruelty to animals and I hope they will pay. They should be paying for all the people to train to take care of these poor oil coated animals since only those who train can help. It is a sad out come from the greed of people trying to cut corners and now look where they are at. We will all pay for their negligence in the long run in one way or another. And the wildlife must be in great shock for this is something greater than they can endure. Yes, we see the photos of a few habitat but knowing there are a lot out there who are suffering, breaks my heart.
    Go get them Peta!!!

    Cherry says...

    June 18th, 2010, 10:35 pm

    They should pay for the lives and livihoods they have ruined and loss of wildlife and their habitat. This is incredibly disgusting!

    Diane W says...

    June 20th, 2010, 4:29 pm

    BP and our government are not even trying to save the wildlife. A few rescue centers have been set up but they are receiving few birds or other animals. I keep hearing that 800 birds have been found dead and 600 rescued. These are obscenely low numbers. As an avid birder who has spent a lot of time in the Gulf States before the disaster, I could easily see over a thousand birds in a one hour walk along a beach or marsh.

    In addition, experienced wildlife rehabilitators and other volunteers are being turned away. Concerned citizens are being threatened with arrest if they attempt to help wildlife. BP is banning individuals from taking pictures so as to keep the public from seeing how bad the situation is. Convict labor is being used to do the clean up because BP can control them and keep them from speaking to reporters or the public.

    Fish and Wildlife people are trying to rescue some sea turtles, but their effort is not being coordinated with the crews setting fire to the sea grass. In many cases the fires are set before allowing the turtles to be rescued.

    In addition, cleanup crews and others are running their trucks and equipment over nesting sites crushing the nests, eggs, and babies.

    Eerily, we seem to be following the disastrous storyline from the movie Soylent Green. Soylent green wafers, anyone?

    Sharon P. says...

    June 20th, 2010, 7:11 pm

    I am sickened by all of this. I agree, they should be charged for loss of life in all forms. I cannot watch the animals struggle for breath, it tears me up inside. The gall of the BP CEO to go on holiday and race on his yaught while the people and the animals are struggling here in the States. I hope BP has major charges brought against them, not that it will help with lives already lost but mayby they will think twice before drilling off of our precious shores.

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