How Big is the Gulf Oil Spill? How Will Philanthropy Respond?


I’m sure you’ve all been following the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf that is slowly but surely making its way ashore.This morning, Brenda Camper, Executive Director of the Greater Escambia Community Foundation in Pensacola, Florida, gave us a front-seat view of the action on COF’s Re: Philanthropy blog: 

The trajectory maps predict the oil is less than eighty miles away and in some communities along the Gulf Coast the smell of salt water has been replaced with the stench of petroleum. Sadly, the seabirds, the dolphins, and all of our wildlife are especially vulnerable and while they may know something is amiss, they have no knowledge of the imminent danger. As federal waters are being closed to fishing, scores of cancellations for vacations and charter fishing trips are being received. Damage has already been done to the commercial fishing industry, and the poor who have to fish to eat.

It’s hard to imagine how big the impact of this spill might be. Paul Rademacher from Google Earth developed this tool that allows users to overlay the size of the Deepwater Horizon spill over any metropolitan area. Here’s how it looks over DC.

2010_0510_oilspill.jpg

As Brenda points out in her post, it will be interesting to see how philanthropy will respond. After all, this is a man-made disaster, not an earthquake or tsunami. Even so, the suffering caused to both the environment and the economies of the Gulf Coast region inspires action. SECF is maintaining a page of resources that will be updated as this crisis develops.

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