Thursday, May 27, 2010

A shrimper explains it all oil

"We need the jobs. We need the oil, but what's the trade-off? We in south Louisiana and that -- we're the trade-off. They're trading us off for domestic oil for the rest of the country."

Michael Roberts, shrimper

Now that you've watched the Time video, read this -- Roberts' essay on It is heartrending.

HERE'S a snippet:
As we headed farther south, we saw at least a dozen boats, which from a distance appeared to be shrimping. But shrimping was not what they were doing at all; instead they were towing oil booms in a desperate attempt to corral oil that was pouring into our fishing grounds. We stopped to talk to one of the fishermen towing a boom, a young fisherman from Lafitte. What he told me floored me.

“What we are seeing in the lake, the oil, is but a drop in the bucket of what is to come,” he said. He had just come out of the Gulf of Mexico and said, “It was unbelievable, and the oil runs for miles and miles and is headed for shore and into our fishing grounds."

I thought what I had already seen in the lake was bad enough for a lifetime. We talked a little while longer, gave the fisherman some protective respirators, and were soon on our way. As we left the small fleet of boats working feverishly, trying to corral the oil, I became overwhelmed with what I had seen.

I am not really emotional and consider myself a pretty tough guy. You have to be to survive as a fisherman. But as I left that scene, tears flowed down my face and I cried. Something I have not done in a long time, but would do several more times this day. I tried not to let my grandson, Scottie, see me crying. I didn’t think he would understand that I was crying for his stolen future. None of this will be the same, for decades to come. The damage is going to be immense and I do not think our lives here in south Louisiana will ever be the same. He is too young to understand. He has an intense love for our way of life here. He wants to be a fisherman and a fishing guide when he gets older. That’s all he’s ever wanted. It is what he is, it is in his soul, and it is his culture. How can I tell him that this may never come to pass now, now that everything he loves in the outdoors may soon be destroyed by this massive oil spill?

How do we tell a generation of young people in south Louisiana who live and breathe this bayou life, that the life they love so much could soon be gone? How do we tell them? All this raced through my mind and I wept.

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