Monday, September 20, 2010

Kind of a Lame Party

The relief well is officially complete in the Gulf of Mexico. Let the party begin. Ok, that's pretty much a non-starter. Maybe it provides a little closure, but certainly the dirty chapter in history remains wide open. It would be too easy and irresponsible to call BP's disaster closed.

The Associated Press noted "...there is still plenty of oil in the water, and some continues to wash up on shore. Many people are still struggling to make ends meet with some waters still closed to fishing. Shrimpers who are allowed to fish are finding it difficult to sell their catch because of the perception — largely from people outside the region — that the seafood is not safe to eat. Tourism along the Gulf has also taken a hit.

The April 20 blast killed 11 workers, and 206 million gallons of oil spewed."

As outlined in a terse but crisp editorial in the Christian Science Monitor, let's investigate the disaster fully, don't forget that eleven people died, show some patience for the science to develop on calling the Gulf fine in terms of environmental damage, and bigger picture -- do what you can to help move this country from a petroleum economy to a renewable energy economy.

Excerpts from the piece:

In the towns of the Gulf Coast, anxiety, economic disruption, and frustration over unpaid claims continue. About 40,000 square miles of the Gulf remain closed to fishing, and demand and prices for the area’s seafood have plummeted.

But an anxious relief exists that the disaster did not reach the environmental scale originally forecast. Early on, a large unexpected eddy blocked the Gulf’s “loop current” that was supposed to carry the oil to the Florida Keys and up the Atlantic coast.

The eddy was “the closest thing to an act of God that we’ve seen,” said Steve Murawski, chief fisheries scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Wind, heat, oil-eating microbes, and extensive human effort also had a positive effect – to the point that NOAA announced in August that about 75 percent of the oil was either collected or dispersed.

Other scientists found that assessment too rosy. For example, the University of Georgia has since detected patches of a two-inch layer of oil on the Gulf floor, which is killing off shrimp and other small marine life. Is it Deepwater oil?

That’s to be determined, and should stand as one reason why ongoing scientific research must stay on the “to-do” list for quite some time. After all, major oil spills from 1989 (Exxon Valdez in Alaska) and 1979 (the Ixtoc disaster in the Gulf) are still having an effect on the environment.

Read more here.

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