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Every @##hole who ever chanted ‘Drill baby drill' should have to report to the Gulf coast today for cleanup duty. - Comedian Bill Maher via Twitter

I confess I've been distracting myself from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The apocalyptic images onscreen are disturbing enough now, but the inevitable images to come - as millions of animals on land, sea and air are killed or injured by the spill - are probably beyond what I'm going to be able to stand and still sleep at night.

The fact that some of us have warned of things like this happening is surely no solace.

While the damage to the economies of the Gulf states - and the resulting effect on national food and oil prices, and therefore on the economy as a whole - will be drastic, it could literally hit home. The oil slick might grow and follow prevailing currents all the way around Florida and on up the east coast. (There's a reason it's called the Gulf Stream.)

It seems far away now, but the BP oil rig disaster - which the president calls "unprecedented," in a world that has already experienced Chernobyl - could have clear and present negative effects on the economy and ecosystem of the Georgia coast.

In a sadly ironic coincidence, we have a story by Patrick Rodgers this issue about the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography's new research into pollution monitoring in our marshes.

None too soon. Originally envisioned as a response to radiation from the Savannah River Site upriver, it seems the real threat might come from the sea instead.