By Daniel Schemer, September 2010
A symposium for the Gulf Oil Spill will take place on Wednesday, September 15, from 12-1:30PM in the Library Browsing Area. Sponsored by the Office of Campus and Community Sustainability, the panel will address the environmental, economic, political, and social impacts of the BP Gulf Oil Spill. The main idea of the event is to convey that the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is not out of the news; the environmental ramifications will go on for many years, the impacts are incalculable, and it is part of a pattern of environmental disasters worldwide.
A distinguished group of guests will speak at the symposium. The most high-profile for the event is world renowned author, philanthropist, and activist John Perkins, though his presence will be available via SKYPE. Returning after already being in the Southcoast area twice this year, Mr. Perkins will talk about how the Gulf oil spill is a clear indicator of unsustainable practice of off-shore drilling, wasteful depletion of resources, and the “robber-baron” mentality comprising corporate greed. It is a wakeup call we are finally hearing because it is close to home, though other peoples around the globe have experienced similar environmental devastation and massive deaths for the sake of fossil fuel and industry profits. Before his recent years as a New York Times bestselling author, John Perkins spent part of his career working for big oil industries targeting developing nations as sources for fossil fuels and political manipulation.
The next speaker is Dr. John Farrington, Interim Dean for SMAST. Dr. Farrington is a distinguished marine geochemist who has studied oil in the marine environment for decades. Back in June of this year, Farrington was one of a group of scientists assembled by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership at Louisiana State University to make recommendations for how scientists can best respond to the oil spill. Since the Deepwater Horizon Spill, Dean Farrington has been a “go-to” scientific commentator for the media, being asked by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio to put everything into an informed context. He also studied the Ixtoc I oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 20 years ago as a member of a shipboard research mission.
The third speaker is Dr. Sadredin Moosavi, Assistant Professor for the STEM Department in Fall River, who will talk about his time spent on Grand Isle, a town on a barrier island off the coast of Louisiana. The island itself is a popular tourism and fishing site that suffered enormously from the spill, and a lot of media reporting set up base there. Dr. Moosavi was at Tulane University in New Orleans at the time conducting a community services learning project on Grand Isle dealing with beach erosion, state park ecosystems, and the impacts of hurricanes and climate change. Because the research contains significant background information on the island before the spill, it is being used as documentation for measuring the effects of the oil spill on the environment. Dr. Moosavi will talk about this research, his observations and experiences with the cleanup, and BP’s overall involvement with everything.
Moderating the panel will be Dr. Garry Clayton from the Charlton College of Business. Dr. Clayton brings an international and economic perspective to the panel and will ground the speakers’ content in the larger context of sustainability. The Sustainability Office looks forward to welcoming everyone back this semester with September 15’s Gulf Oil Symposium. Coffee and dessert will be served. For more information, contact the Office of Campus and Community Sustainability at 508-910-6484.