Environmental disaster hits again with the latest catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Deepwater Horizon, the British Petroleum (BP) oil rig had a methane-gas blowout that caused a leak to begin on April 20th, 2010. Three leaks have since ensued and only one has been controlled to date, putting endangered ecosystems, such as the Gulf’s delicate coral reefs directly in harm’s way.
An estimated 13.25 million liters of oil has already spilled and at this pace, will be a bigger environmental catastrophe than the famous Exxon Valdez incident of 1989. Oil continues to spill at the rate of approximately five-thousand barrels per day, enough to fill six Olympic sized swimming pools, according to Epoch Times.
The Deepwater rig is approximately 80 kilometers off the coast of Louisiana, the same region that suffered hurricanes Katrina and Rita. BP has taken the initiative of financing the spill cleanup, which is more progressive than Exxon’s non-commitment to the environment, but the local remediation is only a far glimmer of light in the future. The spill of 1989 continues to affect the ecology of Alaska.
Many unsuccessful solutions have been put forth, but with a drilling project of this magnitude, better preventative and emergency plans should have been put in place during the installation process.
This most recent catastrophe is having a devastating effect on the local fishing economy, tourist industry and, of course, wildlife. U.S. President Obama has called for a moratorium on new offshore drilling sites, and is now demanding stricter policy on oil cleanup. Popular media is very spotty on reporting on the environmental damage, focusing more on important human tragedy.
Dr. David Suzuki puts a very human spin on the accident and points out that it is an environmental as well as an economic tragedy. “There is no fool-proof technology and there are spills all the time. This (disaster) was totally expected,” he said during an interview with the CBC on May 6th, 2010. Greenpeace has put together a timeline on this spill, giving some perspective on the matter.
Whether it comes from the Middle East or Canada, fossil fuels are going to run out. This most recent spill has initiated a more profound realization that alternative sources of energy need to be implemented sooner rather than later. In a NY Times article ”The Breaking Point”, Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, former Saudi oil minister in the 1970’z famously said that “the stone age didn’t end for lack of stone and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil”.
Many environmental groups and scientists may disagree with the latter part of Ahmed’s quote, however, he pointed out that we do not need to wait until oil runs out before making a change in energy sources.
Although corporately questionable, Dawn makes their case as environmental stewards via their 1 bottle = $1 , playing on the emotional response of saving cute-and-cuddly wildlife. To become actively involved, Greenpeace is offering some volunteer opportunities and other ways to donate your energy to improving this environmental crisis.
The sad truth is that the BP oil spill is getting worse every day, with no end in sight. The region of the spill was already in ecological and economic downfalll before the massive spill. Known as a “dead zone“, a cocktail of pollution runoff from the Mississippi river covered a 22,126 square kilometer region of lifeless water in the Gulf of Mexico, and is the most well-known of this type of ecologically damaged region. The finger can be pointed at high intensity agriculture, which has resulted in dramatic losses to the local fishing economy and biodiversity.
Another dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas was also discovered in July, 2007.
The Gulf of Mexico is an ecologically diverse region; estuaries, reef systems, bays, banks, islands and more are the makeup of this area. Marine life, like the charismatic and extremely endangered Manatee, bottlenose dolphin and migrating cranes are residents, as well as a bountiful plethora of other wildlife and benthic creatures. The National Geographic features a slideshow on the effects on the spill on widlife, and those working tirelessly to help rehabilitate them.
When covered in oil, birds become hypothermic. They ingest copious amounts of petroleum, making them deathly ill. They can be helped, although response time is often too slow to meet their needs, and many do not survive.