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Seeing is believing


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I didn't see this posted. Maybe its in another forum.

By Ovie Mughelli

Two weeks ago I joined a group of athletes on a tour of the now oil-soaked Gulf Coast. We wanted to see the devastation up close and talk to the affected residents ourselves.

I was prepared from some of the images I had seen on TV, but when I saw the vast size of the damage with my own eyes, it was truly shocking.

I imagine many people may ask, “Why is an Atlanta Falcons fullback concerned about the environment?”

As an athlete, I know that we’re deeply dependent on clean air and clean water for our health. Without a clean environment, we can’t run, we can’t play, and we can’t compete in our sport.

But the reality is much deeper than that.

If we’re all supposed to be responsible citizens — athletes or whatever your profession may be — we are not doing our job right now.

We are destroying our planet and hurting our children’s future through our addiction to fossil fuels.

That thought crossed my mind again and again as I took a boat tour of the Gulf Coast last week with other athletes from the NHL and NFL.

I saw oil-soaked pelicans trying to fly, dolphins surfacing in oil-covered water, and wetlands with several inches of sticky, tarry oil all over.

I talked to fishermen whose livelihoods are now gone because of the BP oil disaster.

Seeing what we’re leaving behind for this generation to clean up has inspired me to return home to Atlanta and spread the word: The Gulf Coast may be hundreds of miles away, but we all share the responsibility to get it cleaned up and make sure that an oil disaster like this never happens again.

We absolutely must care about our environment and the energy sources we use. So many of us may say that it’s not our problem or we don’t care — but we have to.

This isn’t a fad. The other athletes and I made the trip, because we want to light that spark of interest and give people young and old the chance to know what’s really going on and why we need to change things, even when change is hard.

I know this change is possible because it has happened to me. I used to not care about the environment. I just didn’t make the connection to my own health and welfare, or to my daughter’s.

Laura Turner Seydel of the Captain Planet Foundation once asked me, “Do you love kids? If you answer yes, then you have to love the environment.”

I have a 16-month-old daughter, and she is a constant reminder to me of why we need a complete culture change.

The change our country absolutely needs right now is to end our oil addiction. Most of all, we need President Barack Obama to take charge and announce a real plan to move our nation beyond oil. This terrible disaster can be a turning point for our nation, if he will make it one.

People say that it’s too hard, that ending our oil addiction can’t be done, that it’s not worth trying.

But we need to bring the same attitude to this challenge that we bring to sports.

In a game, even if your team is behind, you haven’t lost unless you let negativity beat you.

When it matters most, we push ourselves, we dream big, we fight hard, and we work together to give it our best shot.

And that’s what this country needs to do today with clean energy.

As I sat on that boat and saw the oil fill the marshes, saw the booms everywhere — so many booms — soaked in brown oil, I realized the entire scene before me was like a giant billboard for why we need clean energy — we just have to open our eyes and see it.

Ovie Mughielli is a fullback for the Atlanta Falcons.


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