Unless you have been living in a cave under the sea, a mile down beneath the Atlantic Ocean... No, scratch that, even if you have been living in a cave, under the sea, a mile down beneath the Atlantic Ocean you will know about the catastrophic environmental disaster being played out in the Gulf of Mexico currently. Millions of gallons of oil are belching from a deep sea oil well, as failure of a safety valve has lead to a seemingly unstoppable leak, caused by an explosion which sank the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killing 11 rig workers. No doubt there will be a very thorough and expensive legal dissection of what went wrong here, technical and methodological, but one of the most terrifying aspects I have read is that the environmental risk assessment carried out by BP would appear to have been copy of something written for an Alaskan proposal. The give-away was that animals such as walrus were cited in the impact assessment, which considering the extent of this oil spill might not be far off the mark, even though there are thousands of miles of ocean and a major land mass between the Gulf of Mexico and the nearest walrus. Manatee are under serious threat, but I wouldn’t trust an environmental impact assessment from a source that couldn’t tell the difference between these two marine mammals. The reaction of President Obama however, gives hope that even this most devastating of clouds might have its own significant silver lining. His political rhetoric has been ratcheted up to 11 on the scale, in response to a feeling from the American people that he was not in control of the situation. In light of the massive economic impact on the states bordering the Gulf, President Obama promised to "make BP pay for the damage their company has caused." However the more remarkable statement was made later in the disaster and could represent a political paradigm shift in attitude towards the environment. The connection between the damage caused to the ecology of the area and the damage caused to the economy of the region was seemed to be made when Barack gave this quote: “I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy - because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater” The leader of the most influential nation on earth, not to mention the one so intimately and inextricably attached to petrochemicals, has suggested that long-term this might not be such a great idea. So it seems rather timely that this summer Exmouth Community College and the District Council are producing an educational film looking at energy consumption and sustainability. There I said it – sustainability – the word which encapsulates how future thinking must function if we are to sustain our quality of life on earth. Three students from the college have been working with us for the last few months to research the case studies, firstly looking at their own energy consumption and also investigating examples of good practice here in East Devon in business, leisure and domestic settings. The resulting film, presented by the students (I’m sure I’ll manage to elbow my way in front of the camera at some point) is called “EcoLogical”, and as with “Food 4 Thought” and “Think Deep” will be distributed to schools free of charge for use with Key Stage 3 curricula. After a few months investigating various practical sustainability applications here in the District it has amazed me what stories are out there, and I am confident we will be able to build this into a project which will inform and entertain students and, critically, leave them with the feeling that there are solutions these, and other, environmental problems. Although the content may be weighty, the tone will be uplifting. Perhaps I’ll send a copy to Barack? Amazing East Devon! So as not to concentrate the whole of this column on global environmental issues this week, here’s a photo of a moth. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t intend to appear glib – just how do you shift from US energy policy to moths? Local wildlife photographer Peter Vernon has been snapping away again recently, and sent me the attached image of one of my favourite species of British moth, the eyed hawkmoth. Not only is it a stunning creature which looks like it has been found in a tropical paradise, but it has an amazing behaviour to go with those stunning good looks. If startled the moth, which is about the same size as some modern mobile phones, exposes the eye spots on its hind wing and rocks to and fro. This has been shown to deter birds such as sparrows, which would otherwise be grateful for such a huge morsel! Summer moths are simply stunning, so even if you’ve not got the time or inclination to spend all night moth trapping, keep an eye on lights and lamps in your area for the flutter of these magnificent animals this year.