Heroes

We can't undo the damage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. But we can stop it from happening again.

"The agony of foreknowledge combined with the impotence to do anything about it..." — Dr. Kathryn Railly, "12 Monkeys"

We can't undo the damage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. But we can stop it from happening again.
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The Wilderness Society

What would it take to go back in time to before the BP oil spill?

We've seen how the Gulf of Mexico looks today, five years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster and more than a year since the "official" end of cleanup efforts.

But do you ever wonder what it would be like if we could actually undo what was done? If there were some kind of magical reset button that allow us to go back to the fateful day right before everything went wrong?


Would it look like this?

Let's try one more time to travel back to April 19, 2010 — The Day Before the BP Oil Spill.

GIF from "Doctor Who."

The winner of the Boston Marathon sets a new world record.

Robert K. Cheruiyot of Kenya runs the 114th Boston Marathon in just two hours, five minutes, and 52 seconds — a whole 82 seconds faster than the previous record-holder, who was ... also a Kenyan named Robert K. Cheruiyot.

GIF from "The Flash."

Gas prices are holding steady around $2.86 (and won't drop that low again until October 2014).

Which is interesting because Toyota is also in a whole lot of trouble thanks to some malfunctioning gas pedals. But hey, at least they weren't intentionally manipulating emissions tests, right?

GIF from "Back to the Future."

And a New Orleans man leaps from a bridge to save a stranger's life.

Not far from the Mississippi Delta where Deepwater Horizon explodes the next day, a man named John Crosby jumps from the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway into the water below to rescue another man. Crosby keeps him afloat and breathing until help arrives.

GIF from "The Terminator."

But most importantly, our beautiful Gulf of Mexico isn't filled with dangerous oil.


Photo by John Tuggle/ Flickr.

In fact, it's utterly gorgeous ( not like now).

Photo by The222/Wikimedia Commons.

And now our time travel journey returns us to the present — where everything is exactly as we left it.

Like every time-travel adventure, the ultimate lesson here is that we can't change the past. We can't bring back the 11 workers who died in the explosion, or any of the 5,000 dead animals that were recovered in the four months following the Deepwater Horizon incident. BP has spent nearly $50 billion so far in cleanup costs and fines — but there's no amount of money that can undo the damage that's been done.

Yup. That's how much they'd have to clean up. GIF via The Wilderness Society.

But even if we can't rewrite the past, we can still make sure that we don't repeat the same mistakes.

We're still reeling from the repercussions of BP's 2010 oil spill, but the company is already moving ahead with plans to drill four more oil wells in the pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight.

The circumstances are frighteningly similar. But this time we have a chance to take action and stop them before it happens again (and we're faced with the fallout from another devastating disaster that our planet can't recover from) with this petition.

What are you waiting for? The future is counting on you.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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