24 September 2010

National Geographic offers balanced look into the effects of the Gulf oil spill

With the suspension on deep-water drilling due to expire at the end of November, and the U.S. Senate possible taking up off-shore regulatory legislation this fall, National Geographic magazine's October issue brings a balanced perspective on how the fragile Gulf ecosystem works, and its complex oil infrastructure.

The September 2nd explosion of the Mariner Energy offshore oil platform, just 100 miles south of Louisiana, is a reminder that the Gulf remains vulnerable to possible accidents on the 3,500 platforms currently in operation there. National Geographic (available on news stands Tuesday 28th September, on iTunes e-version on Friday October 1st) offers an objective, big-picture context, showing all the factors determining future developments for the areas oil industry and the recovery of its natural resources, including a detailed map showing both the vast oil infrastructure on one side, and describing how the ecosystem works on the other. The map forms the basis of an online curriculum that the National Geographic Society is offering free to K-12 teachers, to help them integrate learning about the Gulf in their classrooms.

Also in the October issue, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle writes about her life long connection to the Gulf of Mexico as part of a larger initiative to bring attention to the impact of human activity on the overall health of the world's oceans. Complementing her essay is the first time ever published analysis of global seafood fishing data, revealing the world's top 20 fish-extracting companies and the top 20 fish-consuming countries.

Two televised specials about the spill, "After the Spill: The Last Catch," bringing the personal stories of those living in the fishing town of Venice, La., and "Explorer: Can the Gulf Survive?" showing the unfolding scientific story of the spill's consequences, will air on the September 2 and will include never before seen footage of the BP control room when they kill the well. A third special, "Saved from the Spill" about the ecological impact of the spill will air on Nat Geo WILD Tuesday October 5th at 9pm ET.

Bev Hahler | @redhotvegan
Bev, a vegetarian since she was 14 years old, became more interested in veganism several years ago after studying Agro-business as part of an Ecology degree. Follow Bev on her blog and Facebook.

Photo credit: National Geographic