# An Interview with Jennifer Jacquet on the Gulf Oil Spill

“There are the obvious effects like oiled birds and saltmarshes, but it seems many of the effects will be more insidious. Scientists I spoke to are particularly concerned about the larval phases of fish and invertebrates, which are planktonic and not able to avoid patches of oil the way free-swimmers might. Experiments conducted after Exxon Valdez have shown that very small amounts of oil can have sublethal affects as well. Fortunately for BP, the ecology of the Gulf was already crippled. …”

This is an excellent interview. Read the rest here. Jennifer’s blog is here. .

1. #1 Colin MacGillivray
August 11, 2010

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill in proportion
The Gulf of Mexico ……basin contains a volume of 2,434,000 cubic kilometers of water (6.43 * 1017 or 643 quadrillion gallons). http://www.epa.gov/gmpo/about/facts.html
On July 15, the leak was stopped by capping the gushing wellhead after releasing about 4.9 million barrels (780×103 m3) of crude oil at the rate of 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day (5,600 to 9,500 m3/d). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill
The ratio of oil spilled to the volume of the Gulf is therefore
780,000 cubic metres (oil from the well): 2,434,000,000,000 cu.m (water in the Gulf)
This ratio is 1:3,120,000 (after dividing both sides of the ratio by 780,000)
Roughly one part per 3 million
An Olympic swimming pool has a volume of 2,500 cubic meters.
One part per 3 million is a volume of .00083 cubic metres. (Divide 2,500 by 3 million)
Or .83 litres. (There are a thousand litres in cubic metre)
Imagine a large soft drink bottle full of crude oil, or ink, or urine being tipped into an Olympic Swimming Pool
How much of a disaster is that?

August 11, 2010

Colin, you go stand in the pool, I’ll get the crude oil and dump in on you.

But seriously, are you actually some kind of Gulf Oil Spill denialist? Do you not realize (apparently you don’t) that you could do the same calculation but instead of using your lifeless suburban swimming pool and a pepsi bottle full of crap, you could use an organism (like a human) and a dose of strychnine or cyanide or some other poison and calculate that the equivalent would kill one gazillian innocent babies and kittens?

So, based on your IP address, I have to ask you, do you work for the BP plastic’s division or just regular BP in that nation of brown people from which you write?

3. #3 Sivi
August 11, 2010

Uh, Greg, what’s up with that last sentence? I’ve got no problem with the crack at BP or the implication that they work for BP, but ‘in that nation of brown people’, given the tone of the first part of the sentence, comes across as a touch racist.

Sure that’s not your intent, but still.

4. #4 DC
August 11, 2010

Sivi, you must be new here.

5. #5 Sivi
August 11, 2010

I used to lurk here a lot – I know Greg’s posted some very good deconstructions of racism, particularly regarding IQ measures.

Which is why the remark struck me as weirdly incongruous. I probably could have remarked on it differently, and it could have just had to do with the mental tone of voice as I was reading.

August 11, 2010

Sivi, There is, I’d contend, racism, but not in my comment. I think it is rather racist when Western Nations and their megacorporations do what they do around the world. Do you know that the amount of oil spilled in the big olympic pool we know of as the Gulf of Mexico is (supposedly) on the same order of magnitude as the amount of oil we’ve spilled on the Nigerian Delta, where Western Multinationals have also ordered … successfully … the execution of of in-country nationals (in Nigeria) who opposed them? An that number of individuals dead pales in comparison to the ongoing swamp war that happens between Oil Company ‘security forces’ and local rebels who are trying to free their land and their people from being, essentially, property of Shell Oil.

So what you have witnessed here is a moment of deep cynicism regarding how you and I and our oil companies treat the rest of the world. It is hard to see the cynicism in print. The term “little brown people” is anthropology dog whistle speak. It comes from George Bush Sr.

August 11, 2010

DC: It was perfectly reasonable for Sivi to ask.

8. #8 Sivi
August 11, 2010

Thanks for the explanation, Greg. I hadn’t even thought to draw parallels between BP in the Gulf and and say Shell in Nigeria.

Now that you mention it though, there’s even a pretty big discrepancy between media coverage – and that’s without BP killing off people in Florida or Louisiana.

9. #9 Sabrina
August 11, 2010

No comment from BP Colin? Not surprised.

10. #10 itzac
August 11, 2010

A great book if you want to learn about American economic Imperialism is “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins.

http://www.amazon.ca/Confessions-Economic-Hit-John-Perkins/dp/1576753018/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281549314&sr=8-2

11. #11 Simea mirans
August 11, 2010
August 12, 2010

Wow – if Colin got his calculations right, that’s 300 parts per billion by volume. For many chemicals, that’s a hazardous (though not necessarily lethal) level. Not to mention the danged oil just refuses to mix in with all that water so until the bacteria break down the oil and waxes (or the waxes entrain enough sand or something to make it sink), you’ll get patches of crap here and there.

For example, in the air, the 10-hour exposure limit set for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is on the order of 80ppbv, with the short-term limit set at around 8,000ppbv. Some chemicals are quite deadly though; it doesn’t take much nitroglycerine to kill someone – the doses used to treat medical problems is extremely small; less than 1 part per billion by weight of the patient.

13. #13 Colin MacGillivray
August 12, 2010

Greg said: But seriously, are you actually some kind of Gulf Oil Spill denialist?
Colin says: No I just wanted to do the maths.

Greg said: Do you not realize (apparently you don’t) that you could do the same calculation but instead of using your lifeless suburban swimming pool and a pepsi bottle full of crap, you could use an organism (like a human) and a dose of strychnine or cyanide or some other poison and calculate that the equivalent would kill one gazillian innocent babies and kittens?
Colin says: It’s not strychnine it’s biodegadeable natural thin grade (apparently) oil.

Greg asked: So, based on your IP address, I have to ask you, do you work for the BP plastic’s division or just regular BP in that nation of brown people from which you write?
Colin says: I married a brown person, a Malaysian, worked here in Sarawak as an architect in the 80′s and now am retired here. I am an environmentalist and have been since I stood in 1972 in New Zealand for Parliament for the “Values Party” which later became the Green Party. The Values Party was the first “green” party in the world.

In my very humble opinion I don’t think this particular oil spill is as bad for the environment as the media and some people make out. (Because it was deep and a long distance from the shore.)

14. #14 Colin MacGillivray
August 12, 2010

Re: My Diatribe above
FYI
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Values_Party