"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bringing Perspective to Oil Spills

The BP oil spill southeast of Louisiana is reported to be spewing 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. Today some estimates state it could get to be 8X that rate. To bring perspective, let's consider the rate of 210,000 gallons a day.

At this rate it would take 51 days to equal the amount of oil spilled as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska. The oil spill from the Persian Gulf War ('90, '91) dumped 3,333 times as much oil into the earth's water supply as the Exxon Valdez did. So if this latest Gulf of Mexico spill lasts at the current rate for 470 years it will equal the Persian Gulf oil spill output in terms of amount of oil spilled.

There have been 25 oil spills on the earth since January 1, 2000 of over 100 tons of crude oil each, five of which resulted in tens of thousands of tons of spilled crude oil ( 1 ton of crude is equivalent 308 gallons). There were plenty more before that. One notable one was the Ixtoc oil spill in... the Gulf of Mexico. 450,000 or so tons of crude was dumped over about a 9 month period in '79-'80. Most people know of one major oil spill--Exxon Valdez-- because the media is good at marketing news with a wicked slant. This sells commercials and enables excellent luncheons.

One 2007 web site re: Persian Gulf states - "The natural environment of the Persian Gulf is very rich with good fishing grounds, extensive coral reefs, and abundant pearl oysters..."

If you just consider surface area of the world's oceans, if the Persian Gulf oil spill were equally distributed it would have amounted to roughly 1 cup of oil per 6,750 sq ft. That doesn't count non-Ocean sources of water nor the depth of all bodies of water. The earth can handle and has handled enormous amounts of natural disasters.

This year's oil spill should not thwart America's efforts to get the oil near our coasts. If we don't the risk of spills will remain as the Chinese will go after it. The risk is a given, it might as well be ours.

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