Double, Double, Oil and Trouble

May 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm (Uncategorized) ()

…fire burn and ocean bubble.

Yesterday’s post was written to give you some warm and fuzzies, and today’s will likely do the opposite.  By now, I’m sure you’ve heard all about the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana (it’s not actually a spill, but I’ll come back to that later).  You may even be sick of hearing and/or reading about it, in which case…maybe you should come back here tomorrow.  For those of you wanting to hear a bit more about this fiasco, read on.

Short recap: On April 20, 11 BP workers were killed after an oil rig the company was working on exploded.  The rig burned for two days and then sank, and the valve that was supposed to turn off the flow of oil apparently does not work. Technically, there was no “spill”, because a spill would indicate a finite amount of oil coming from something like a barrel.  No, this is more like an underwater oil volcano that is spewing over 200,000 gallons into the Gulf of Mexico every day. BP estimates that it could be as much as 2.5 million gallons a day if the leaks get worse.  It’s quite the technical challenge to try to stop the leak, as it’s so far underwater (about 5,000 feet) that the pressure alone makes it difficult for even robots to get to.  Yes, robots have limits too.

There’s a lot of uncertainty and mystery surrounding this whole thing.  Initial reports of the severity of the spill were drastically underplayed and the good people of Louisiana are rightfully distrustful and also rightfully pissed.  No one really seems to know how bad this is or how bad it could get, or how exactly it got this bad to begin with.  And no one seems to have a fool-proof plan to fix it.  As of today, the people at BP are working on a containment box to drop down over the leak in hopes of controlling the flow of oil.  They’ve admitted they haven’t tried a containment box in such a deep area and are not sure it’s going to work.  It will likely take weeks or even months before the leak is under control.

Unfortunately, fixing the leak does not fix everything.  At risk are 1,000 miles of wetlands and beaches, countless fisheries and innumerable species.  People make their livelihoods by fishing in the waters that are being contaminated and they are rightfully worried for their futures.  Entire economic and ecological industries are at stake here and I think it’s a lot more serious than some people are letting on.  My heart hurts for the people, animals and ecology that is affected by this, which is why I had to get it out in a post.  Thanks for reading.

Here are some ways you can help:

The National Wildlife Federation is now accepting pledges via your mobile device. Text “WILDLIFE” to 20222 to donate $10 to the organization’s “on-the-ground volunteer and restoration efforts.”

To contact the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center: 985.902.5231

For information about the response effort, visit

For information about validated environmental air and water sampling results, visit the EPA’s website

The Greater New Orleans Foundation has set up a fund to help some communities that will be affected by the oil spill.

The National Audubon Society is recruiting volunteers in the fight to save “ecologically sensitive areas.” Visit their website to fill out a volunteer registration form.


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