Monday, May 17, 2010

Save us Aquaman!

SNL missed the obvious solution -- tampons:

Okay, so now that we've all had a good laugh, I have to say that this entire oil spill disaster has been, to me, one of the most soul crushing man-made disasters ever. Millions of gallons of oil have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon blowout. The amount of oil could be "the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez tanker every four days."

And it threatens the entire ocean food chain. We've all seen the illustrations where the little fish is eaten by the big fish, which is eaten by an even bigger fish, etc? Well...
Scientists say bacteria, plankton and other tiny, bottom-feeding creatures will consume oil and will then be eaten by small fish, crabs and shrimp. They, in turn, will be eaten by bigger fish, such as red snapper, and marine mammals such as dolphins.

The petroleum substances that concentrate in the sea creatures could kill them or render them unsafe for eating, scientists say.

"If the oil settles on the bottom, it will kill the smaller organisms like the copepods and small worms," Montagna said. "When we lose the forage, then you have an impact on the larger fish."

Making matters worse for the deep sea is the leaking well's location: It is near the continental shelf of the Gulf where a string of coral reefs flourishes. Coral is a living creature that excretes a hard calcium carbonate exoskeleton, and oil globs can kill it.

The reefs are colorful underwater metropolises of biodiversity, attracting sea sponges, crabs, fish, algae and octopus.
And that's just the effect of the oil. The 400,000 gallons of dispersants (chemical mixtures designed to bond to the oil molecules and separate them from water molecules) are also toxic and do not actually reduce the total amount of oil entering the gulf, but they do make the oil less visible. If that sounds to you more like a political "solution" than a scientific one, you're probably right. But some people are more gullible...

Brit Hume at Fox News recently asked, "where is the oil?" The guy has the critical thinking skills of a toddler. Put a little toy out of sight and it's "all gone!" Except it's not a toy, it's oil. And it's not all gone, it's deep in the ocean.

But it's going to take more than dispersants to clean up BP's political mess. Eight US senators are calling for criminal and civil charges against the multinational oil company. I'm not sure how we can even put a price on a disaster we'll be feeling for years, but I'm certain that $75 million won't be enough.

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