The Happy Arab News Service

Friday, January 28, 2011

Spill, baby, spill!

Last updated: January 28, 2011

January 7, 2011

The latest good news from the Gulf of Mexico is that the methane, that made up for 30% of the Macondo well's output, is gone as well. Researchers spent several weeks in the gulf dropping sensors to detect the presence of natural gas in the water but they found nothing. They did detect however huge pockets of depleted oxygen used by oil eating microbes who at the same breath disintegrated the bulk of the oil released during the BP disaster.

McCain: "The fish love to be around those rigs"
(Opponents of offshore drilling ridicule McCain)

As scientists quietly lowering their estimates of the environmental damage, I can tell you why I am not surprised. This is because I am addicted to watching nature documentaries of the kind I embedded in abundance in Pitch Black. Now when it comes to methane, I got one video there on the subject made right in the Gulf of Mexico. You can see for yourself that the existence of a whole unique ecosystem in the gulf is conditioned entirely on one simple thing - methane gas continuously seeping into water. The gas stops, this ecosystem goes off.

Now, I am not saying that a release of such a huge amount of oil and gas into water can't overwhlem the system for a while, but come on, guys. This is no Waldez. The Gulf of Mexico is known for its rich deposits of oil and gas. You did not think that all this bounty is sitting down there in hermetically sealed containers, did you? If the gulf's microfauna did not know how to deal with this stuff, we would have had huge amounts of oil floating on the surface at any given moment. It's probably not for nothing that large areas of the gulf's seabed are covered with natural asphalt. This asphalt by the way is sustaining another unique ecosystem. To say that fish love to hang out around oil rigs is nothing compared to the passion some ecosystems have developed towards oil, natural gas and other toxic stuff.

There is nothing mysterious about the mysterious disappearance of the BP's spill. I would not bet my house on it at the time, but it was very plausible to expect the gulf's ecosystem to be able to deal with this kind of things given that an equivalent of several BP disasters is naturally happening in the depths of the gulf every year. What is mysterious, however, is the attitude of the scientists themselves who were actively participating in and instigating the self feeding public hysteria that ended with the BP pouring many truckloads of oil dispersant into the water. The oil eating microbes did not come out of nowhere, they are living in the gulf feeding on its oil and gas. However, I have never heard about the existence of dispersant eating bacteria in the area. I won't be surprised to hear in a few years from now that a significant environmental damage was inflicted on the gulf by the dispersant.

The conduct of scientists during this non disaster raises questions. I don't suspect them of deliberate maliciousness, but it looks increasingly likely as if large chunks of the scientific community have joined the media whose primary function these days is to gratify the general public's irresistible urge to have itself constantly whipped up into hysteria. It's impossible that throughout this whole event we had no authority coming up and advising the government and BP to go easy with the dispersant, if only because the gulf's microfauna may know to do it better. If these people are just as accurate with their global warming predictions... You know, lets not talk about this as I am actually with them on this one.

Now I want to make it very clear from the beginning that I am all for tight safety regulation, environment and punishing transgressing companies with fines and the stuff. The BP paid a heavy price for its negligence and if necessary it should be made pay more. Spills on such a scale is no minor nuisance. Nevertheless, McCain may well have a point when he says that fish like oil rigs. Fishermen know this too. In fact, if this is your lucky oil rig, you may even catch a ride on the back of a friendly 10 feet long whale shark. So far so true.

What McCain does not seem to know is that what you see from above pales in comparison to what divers see around oil rigs.

Obviously there should be some explanation for the fact that oil platforms look like explosions of marine life in the midst of underwater desert. There is no more mystery here than in the mysterious disappearance of the spill. Basically, in many areas there seems to be a shortage of attachable surface, in particular, with access to the upper layers of water. This is what oil rigs are providing to scallops and other creatures. Basically, oil rigs are huge corral reefs. At the end of its productive life, an oil rig is usually hosting an entire ecosystem. Once it's there, you simply don't want it to go. Unless, of course, you are so fascinated with the concept of protecting nature that the activity of protecting matters for you more than what you are presumably protecting.

To put it short. Obviously no fish likes spills. If fish could talk, they would have been very unlikely to lavish praise on the BP and its partners. Yet, they might well have put their newly acquired vocalization abilities to good use by collectively chanting "Drill, baby, drill!" So if you thought that McCain is the idiot here, think again.

An abandoned oil rig in Benin

January 28, 2011

A new study found that dispersants injected into the depths of the Gulf of Mexico are still there. The rate of biodegradation is negligible or very slow. And, as a matter of fact, it appears that the chemicals got trapped in a plume of oil they seem to have caused themselves.

January 27, 2011
Study: Undersea Dispersant in Gulf of Mexico Lingered in Deepwater Plume

. . .

While a large portion of the oil and gas escaping from the well stayed in the dark deep -- subsequently consumed by microbes and spread thin over the Gulf's vastness -- it remains uncertain whether dispersants, or simple physics, caused this plume. And while that question remains unresolved, it is now clear that the dispersants stayed put, closely following the hydrocarbon plume's southwest tack, some 3,600 feet below the surface.

. . .

"The good news is that the dispersant stayed in the deep ocean after it was first applied," Kujawinski added in a statement. "The bad news is that it stayed in the deep ocean and did not degrade."

Source: NYTimes


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