World Wetlands Day (February 2) is an opportunity to acknowledge their often overlooked value, particularly as it pertains to climate change. In addition to purifying water, and providing food like fish and rice, wetlands store carbon and help to protect us from storms, flooding and drought. They are also rich ecosystems teaming with biodiversity.
Since 1900 we have destroyed almost two thirds (64%) of our wetlands which increases our vulnerability to climate change.
Wetlands have also been lost due to fossil fuel extraction most notably the BP oil rig disaster in 2010. When the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico five years ago it set into motion a chain of events that continues to adversely impact wetlands to this day.
Louisiana’s wetlands are among the worst impacted. The state is currently losing the equivalent of a football field every hour. The tragic destruction of Cat Island in Louisiana illustrates this point. It was once teaming with wildlife and now it is being washed away. Oil from the 2010 disaster continues to wash up on the shores of Gulf states including Louisiana.
An act of Congress is directing BP’s fines to coastal restoration. BP must be made to pay for the damage it caused rather than try to use the courts to shirk its responsibilities.
To celebrate World Wetlands Day EDF is encouraging people to help them hold BP accountable.