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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

Worst Ecological Disaster in History

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

That's right - I said it: The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst ecological disaster in our history!

Usually big oil spills originate from those huge oil tankers, but this time it happened to be a deep water oil rig that exploded from a gas build up. The crisis started a month ago (April 20th) while the TransOcean drilling rig Deep Water Horizon was drilling on behalf of BP (British Petroleum) in the area of the Gulf known as Mississippi Canyon.

When you compare it gallon-for-gallon, it is small in comparison to other oil disasters. A month later, they haven't stopped the leak - so this may change. Though not the largest spill, I think it will do environmental damage greater than any other incident.

There is a lot more to this crisis than just oil washing up on the beach. Oil floats on water, so even a small amount of oil can spread out over a large area of water. This thin film of oil stops the exchange of gases (oxygen, CO2, etc.) that normally occurs between the ocean and the atmosphere. This suffocates any living thing under the water. Initial testing showed that within the first week the oxygen level plummeted over 30%.

The ecosystem of the entire gulf coast was already in peril before this incident, and the impact on the environment will be devastating. It is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for the environment to recover from this incident.


From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA.gov:

NOAA is concerned about oil impacts to fish, shellfish, marine mammals, turtles, birds and other sensitive resources, as well as their habitats, including wetlands, mudflats, beaches, bottom sediments and the water column. Any lost uses of these resources, for example, fishery and beach closures, will also be evaluated. The focus currently is to assemble existing data on resources and their habitats and collect baseline (pre-spill impact) data. Data on oiled resources and habitats are also being collected.

Response to date:

  • Total response vessels: 559
  • Containment Boom deployed: over 1.2 million feet
  • Containment boom available: nearly 200,000 feet
  • Sorbent boom deployed: over 385,000 feet
  • Sorbent boom available: over 870,000 feet
  • Boom deployed: over 1.5 million feet (regular plus sorbent and fire boom)
  • Boom available: over 1 million feet (regular plus sorbent and boom)
  • Oily water recovered: more than 6 million gallons
  • Dispersant used: over 517,000 gallon
  • Dispersant available: more than 250,000 gallons
  • Overall personnel responding: more than 17,000

I have lived in AL, MS, and LA and spent a lot of time in the Gulf of Mexico. I am just totally disgusted by what we have done to the environment.

Why did cars in the 70's have a higher miles to the gallon than current vehicles? There are many energy alternatives to fossil fuels, but anyone who tries to develop them gets immediately shut down by the big oil companies and the politicians on their payroll.

We need to really think about what we are doing to our biosphere and as a society come up with better solutions. Unfortunately, for the creatures living in or depending on the Gulf of Mexico - we are too late.

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

PS. A big thank you to Leonardo DiCaprio for all of his hard work calling attention to these issues.

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