Sunday, May 30, 2010

Parade of Peacocks

We had some visitors yesterday at our house in Coconut Grove. Peacocks! Nine of them! They chomped on our palm berries, drank from our patio plants, sunbathed on our roof, scared away the neighborhood cats, and pranced around our backyard.

Coconut Grove has had roaming flocks of peacocks for years. Rumor has it that a local couple brought pet peacocks to their home and the birds got loose. Our feathered friends multiplied and have been part of the neighborhood ever since.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rally in Miami Beach Seeks Offshore Drilling Ban - Sierra Club warns BP "toxic brew" will spread

An activist with Surfrider Foundation protests offshore oil drilling.

Activists painted their bodies black to appear covered in oil and carried a symbolic oil slick in the form of a dark tarp across Miami Beach today at a rally to protest offshore oil drilling in the wake of the April 20th BP oil accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmentalists, elected officials and business owners warned that the BP spill will be devastating to Florida's coastal ecosystem and wildlife and could spell doom for the tourism industry if the oil reaches South Florida's shores.

The 10 a.m. rally at Lummus Park was organized by the Sierra Club, Sufrider Foundation Miami Chapter and several other environmental organizations.

Florida State Sen. Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) urged support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban exploration, drilling, oil extraction and production up to ten miles off Florida's shores. "We do not want oil rigs near our shore," the senator said, with the sandy beach and sparkling Atlantic as a backdrop.

Recent reports indicate that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could reach South Florida's shores within weeks if winds push it into a loop ocean current that winds around the southern tip of the state. Miami Beach Commissioner Jerry Libbin said emergency management officials should be preparing a disaster management plan.

The damage, however, is already done, according to an attorney for the Sierra Club, Kent Harrison Robbins. He said the chemicals that BP oil giant is using to disperse the oil in the Gulf of Mexico is creating a "toxic brew" that will "kill, maim, and destroy marine mammals, plankton and coral reefs."

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora said he is angry. "We need to do what we can to prevent another tragedy like this from happening."

Among the business owners who called for measures to prevent offshore oil drilling was David Wallack, owner of Mango's Tropical Cafe, a popular South Beach nightspot. He said an oil slick on any of Florida's coasts would be more disruptive in the long term than any hurricane. "Now we're talking about cities that can be devastated not for days, weeks or months, but years," he said. Quoting singer Bob Dylan, Wallack said, "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind."

As activists rallied on Miami Beach today, in Washington DC the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on offshore gas and oil development. Protests against BP are planned nationwide for tomorrow, Wednesday, by the Seize BP Campaign, which has begun a petition supporting the seizure of BP's assets to provide comprehensive compensation and relief for all affected people and for cleaning up the environment. A rally is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the federal courthouse, Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.

Monday, May 10, 2010

BP Oil Spill Threatens Florida Birds, Volunteer to Help

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has birders and wildlife lovers all over Florida very worried. If efforts to halt the oil slick fail and winds shift the slick toward South Florida, the oil could harm birds, coastal marshes and mangroves. There are a number of things volunteers can do to help out.

The Audubon Society reports that volunteers can provide valuable information for the response and recovery efforts by reporting birds that they see on the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico on eBird. The website is a real-time bird checklist that is monitored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Volunteers can also add their name, address, telephone and email address to Audubon's rescue volunteer registry. Volunteers will be called if the oil slick lands on Florida's beaches. Audubon will connect local members of the volunteer registry with response leaders. Sign up here.

Or sign a petition calling on President Obama, Florida Governor Crist and other public officials to drop proposals to expand oil and gas exploration near Florida's coastal areas. Sign petition here.

Let's all do our part to protect the precious natural resources, bird habitat and wildlife of South Florida.