The BP Oil Spill isn't really that bad, is it?


Hey, what do you say, the next person who says "environmentalists have always made these extreme predictions and they never come true" gets a boot. Somewhere. Somewhere deep.

The dozens of dolphins and the sperm whale trapped in the oil, dead or near death, start at around 6:20.

The end is a little strange.

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It depends on your time constant of analysis as to how bad it is the longer the less bad. If you watched life after people in 500 years the earth would recover from all our follies. I first saw this in action when driving thru the land between the lakes in KY. 100 years ago it was farms, today outside the mowed area of the road its natural forest. Likely 10-15 years after the spill the gulf will more or less recover, Louisiana will not however because it has a much bigger problem the mississippi dumping all the necessary sediment over the edge of the continental shelf. To save La we have to kill New Orleans as a port. Let the Mississippi flow thru Morgan City like it wants to except for the core of engineers and it will build new lands and marshes (some have been build with the 1/5 of the river flowing into the bay there right now. Many will not live to see it but nature will recover, just like some day the river will tell the core where to go and abandon New Orleans like it wants to (a flood bigger than 1927 likely)

The areas of Alaska that were wrecked by Exxon Valdez are still wrecked. That was 21 years ago.

I totally agree we should free up that river. Starting with the dam down the block from where I am now.

Lyle - *Something* will recover, but it won't be the same as without human intervention. Extinct species will stay extinct, eroded topsoil will be gone, dead coral reefs will still be dead stone, new forests will have a different balance of species. Also, plenty of forms of pollution will still be there: heavy-metal poisoned soils on industrial sites; landfills; plastics; large areas still covered with broken building rubble. And it'll take another Carboniferous to deal with the atmospheric CO2 (OK, that's hyperbole, but I'd be surprised if it was all back in limestone deposits and buried organic layers in a mere 500 years).

By stripey_cat (not verified) on 29 Jun 2010 #permalink

I agree with stripey, 500 years is too short a time. 100 year old secondary forest is not "the same" as virgin forest.

It is the loss of genetic diversity in species that is irreversible. In the limit this is what extinction is, a complete loss of genetic diversity.

More important than protecting beaches from visible oil is protecting wild life habitat from oil that differentially affects species and species diversity. Once that genetic diversity is gone, it takes a very long time to come back.

The oil you see is only the fraction more buoyant than seawater. We don't know what fraction that is of the total because BP won't allow scientists to measure anything.

Obama, as commander-in-chief, could bring BP's heavy-handedness to an abrupt halt by sending a few USN frigates to put shots across their bows, causing BP to have a sudden attack of common courtesy.

By Rose Colored Glasses (not verified) on 30 Jun 2010 #permalink

Is anyone still saying the Gulf Gusher is not that bad? (Calling it a spill comes under that heading, IMO.)

OK, that's a stupid question. Someone will always try to minimize the problem, especially if they caused it.

More to the point, they'll always try to maximize the uproar from the other side, which they regard as baseless, the better to make their opponents look bad.

Both sides make dire predictions. Environmentalists predict extreme pollution; corporatists predict extreme poverty. It seems to me that the environmentalists have a much better claim to accuracy.

By Chris Winter (not verified) on 30 Jun 2010 #permalink

I drove down to the southern part of the state yesterday. I went to place some rainwater collection equipment. Barataria Bay is pretty fucked. I didn't see any oil in the lake (Pontchartrain), although the smell of gasoline was noticed occasionally.

Agreed something will recover, something recovered after the permo-Triassic extinction (90% of marine and 70% of land species extinct) and the Cretaceous Tertiary extinction event that killed the dinosaurs. Likely what we have done is to set in motion a major extinction event over a couple of hundred years as the earth decides to remove the virus (homo sapiens) that is infecting it. Note that I am taking a geological point of view species come and go in the geologic record, that is nature for us. For a human life span its a big problem but the earth will do away with our works over mostly 500 to 1000 years as life after people suggests, with a few lasting longer such as Mt Rushmore and the like.…,……

^^ Coincidence?

Roy Spencer mentioning impeded evaporation:…

I'm *assuming* there is not still/renued sheen there -- If I were writing a scifi techno-mystery and doomsday scenario then 'the anomoly may be due to altered (lack of/dead) bioturbation by microscopic marine organisms' might tickle the keyboard.

Booming School 101:

Of course, by 'bioturbation' I mean to say a missing mechanism of mixing of the water column itself -- not the floor sediment.