Thursday, 6 May 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Update

Obama has called the spill "a potentially unprecedented environmental disaster,” but so far it's not the worst of our time. The Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 leaked an estimated 10.8 million gallons off the coast of Alaska. The Ixtoc I in Mexico spilled 140 million gallons in 1979. In 1991 Iraqi forces spilled 36 billion gallons retreating from Kuwait. The Deepwater Horizon hasn't yet reached any of these numbers, but that's not to say this is no big deal. It is. What's scaring people the most is the fact that no one knows how this will play out.

"As one expert put it, this is the first inning of a nine-inning game. No one knows the final score.

Edward B. Overton of Louisiana State University says “Right now what people are fearing has not materialized.”

Jacqueline Savits of Oceana disagrees:
“Some people are saying, It hasn’t gotten to shore yet so it’s all good, but a lot of animals live in the ocean, and a spill like this becomes bad for marine life as soon as it hits the water. You have endangered sea turtles, the larvae of bluefin tuna, shrimp and crabs and oysters, grouper. A lot of these are already being affected and have been for 10 days. We’re waiting to see how bad it is at the shore, but we may never fully understand the full impacts on ocean life.”

The National Wildlife Federation spoke to a fisherman out of Venice, Louisiana who had been to the slick. He brought back a plastic bottle filled with the oil and mentioned that he was concerned for the state's wildlife.

photo credit EarthShare

BP is working to apply dispersants directly to the leak site. The sooner they hit the oil, the better. Engineers are also constructing huge containment domes to trap the leaking oil so that it can be collected and shipped to shore. Additionally, BP is creating a relief well by drilling at an angle into the main Deepwater Horizon well.

EarthShare has prepared a list of helpful things you and I can do in response to the spill - from volunteering for cleanup to tweeting about the event. You can see that list here. Pick your favorite and help out!!

Main article here (New York Times):

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