Not a day goes by without hearing about the “catastrophic BP Gulf oil spill”. Even the media in Europe are fretting hysterically about ocean currents eventually carrying the mess across the Atlantic and over to Europe’s shores – so say all their computer models. There’s now even a lot of discussion about setting up a world environmental court for prosecuting polluters for Crimes Against Nature and Crimes Against Humanity.When I was a kid and milk spilled, we were told not to cry about it, but instead to get up, get a mop, and to clean it up. How are media responding with the latest spill? Many are having fainting spells, some are even leaping out the windows, and the rest just want to beat the crap out of the poor kid who spilled the milk, who by the way gets up early every morning to milk the cow and brings it to the table.
Surely the oil spill was a mess and steps have to be taken to prevent these things in the future. But it’s also important to keep it all in perspective. Globally, once everything settles down, this is not going to be felt at all. It’s reported that 800 million liters have gushed into the Gulf. That sounds like a huge number. Indeed it’s like everyone in the United States dumping 3 quarts.
Pull your head up and look at the big picture. First of all, it has been reported, much to the surprise of the media, that 75% has already been either dispersed or cleaned up. That means 200 million liters are still at large. Of these 200 million liters, what doesn’t end up on shores for manual cleanup, will eventually get carried out to sea.
But for now, let’s stay with the 200 million liters floating out to Europe and beyond. How much is that with respect to the oceans’ sheer volume?
* 200 million liters = 200,000 cubic meters,
* 200,000 cubic meters = 0.0002 cubic kilometers of oil.
* Volume of world oceans: 1.37 BILLION cubic kilometers.
* Concentration of BP oil in ocean: 0.0002 km³/ 1,370,000,000 km³
This equals…folks my calculator doesn’t even get anywhere near that far out! It’s like one rat drowning in Lake Erie. It’s in the trillionths! The average lake has higher concentrations of greasy suntan lotion from swimmers.
Wildlife in the oceans are not even going to notice this, not at all! Fish have other far greater worries on their minds – like not becoming dinner for other fish.
So everybody really ought to just calm down about it. The whole thing has been overhyped a 1000 times.
The Gulf shores will get cleaned up and big mother earth will do the rest.
Source of ocean data: http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/SyedQadri.shtml
UPDATE: Claudia Bradshaw of the BBC blogs plans a radio show about it this evening. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/2010/08/is_the_bp_gulf_oil_leak_the_mo.html#241138
I’d like to point out that the media focusses too much on the environmental disturbance of the oil spill and ignores the fact that a dozen people lost their lives in the accident. That’s the real tragedy.
And let’s not forget there have been far worse disasters. 167 people lost their lives on the Piper Alpha, making that in my view far worse than anything else in the oil industry to my knowledge. We ought to keep things in perspective. The environment will rebound – lost lives don’t. How does someone’s business taking a temporary hit compare to loss of life? You coastal residents – you live in America, and so you’ll all get through it just fine. I know it’s tough, but count your blessings.