Year 2, Month 4, Day 2: By The Time This Gets Posted, They May All Be Dead.

The M.S. Oliva, a Malta-registered freighter, has run aground and broken up on a tiny island in the South Atlantic. Nightingale Island just happens to be the home of forty percent of the world’s remaining wild Rockhopper Penguins. Not for long, apparently. At least 20,000 of these birds are now oil-soaked, looking forward to a merciful extinction.

And that’s not even the best part:

Conservation groups said the wreck could pose a different ecological threat to the chain as rats could have come ashore from the vessel, which was carrying 66,000 tons of soybeans from Brazil to Singapore. Several islands in the archipelago are rodent-free, and a rat infestation could potentially do more harm to bird life than any oiling, experts said.

Soybeans. I have no available profanity left.

Sent March 23:

It is a dreadful irony. Looking closely at the photograph of the crippled freighter, one can see the giant letters overlooking the deck: “Safety First.” Indeed. Twenty-two years after the Exxon Valdez, we’ve learned remarkably little; it takes a special kind of talent to run a vessel aground on a place as small as Nightingale Island. The Oliva’s breakup is devastating to the Rockhopper Penguins whose home is now surrounded by a toxic slick; the combination of oil-soaked feathers and the likely introduction of rats to the island may prove a tipping point for these delightful birds. What can we learn from the Valdez, the Oliva, the Deepwater Horizon and thousands of other petro-disasters? Simply this: the heavily-touted “cheapness” of fossil fuels is illusory. How much will cleanup cost? What’s the dollar value of a single penguin? Of an entire species? Of humanity’s future on a clean and healthy planet?

Warren Senders

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