Despite promising efforts to stop the Gulf oil leak through a ‘top kill’ effort, a mind boggling amount of damage has already been done to this precious ocean ecosystem.
It can be hard to keep track of all the devastating statistics, quotes, and facts concerning this disaster, but it is essential that the public maintain a working knowledge of what’s going on, both politically and environmentally.
As a people, we must demand change from both an oil industry that drills first and asks questions later, and the corrupt government agencies that let them get away with it. We must also realize that we have encouraged this sort of behavior through lifestyles that are addicted to oil, and an unwillingness to make sacrifices for a cleaner, healthier future.
Here are 10 of the most horrifying facts about the Gulf oil spill. Read them and let their gravity weigh heavy on your hearts and minds. Let them motivate you to take action so our planet never experiences this kind of manmade disaster ever again.
1. New estimates show the undersea well has spilled between 17 and 39 million gallons. These estimates dwarf those of BP, who claimed the spill had only released 11 million gallons to date, and mean that the Gulf leak is far bigger than Exxon Valdez, making it the worst spill in American history.
2. The National Wildlife Federation reports that already more than 150 threatened or endangered sea turtles are dead. And 316 sea birds, mostly brown pelicans and northern gannets, have been found dead along the Gulf Coast as a result of the spreading oil.
3. The Minerals Management Service, directly under the supervision of the Interior Department failed to impose a full review of potential environmental impacts of the BP drilling operation because preliminary reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was “unlikely.”
4. The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released a report indicating that at one Gulf Coast office of MMS, agency officials attended sporting events on the dime of oil companies, stored porn on company computers, used cocaine and crystal meth, falsified inspection reports, and accepted “gifts” from “good friends in the oil industry.” (Links via ProPublica).
5. A significant amount of the oil slick is being drawn well to the south in the east-central Gulf of Mexico, meaning that it has been captured by the Loop Current. Oil in the loop is a hazard to the Florida Keys, (and entire East Coast) as well as areas of the west coast of Florida. Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico could also be at risk of exposure to the oil, which also could be drawn into the Gulf Stream through the Florida Straits, and perhaps northward to part of the Atlantic Seaboard.
6. As much as we’d like to forget it, the Gulf Coast is prime hurricane country, and if a storm blows in, the result could be devastating. The presence of oil could lead to a more powerful hurricane because crude accumulating at the surface could be raising the temperature of the surrounding water.
7. Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP, has been flying under the radar in the mainstream blame game. Because of past experience with Gulf Oil spills, Transocean decided to insure the Deepwater Horizon rig for about twice what it was worth. In a conference call to analysts earlier this month, Transocean reported making a $270 million profit from insurance payouts after the disaster.
8. Perhaps because it knows the possibility of remedying the situation is practically impossible, BP has made publicly available its laughable “Oil Spill Response Plan” which is, in fact, no plan at all. Besides mentioning the protection of Arctic wildlife (probably lifted directly from the Exxon Valdez plan), the plan does not include any disease-preventing measures, oceanic or meteorological data, and is comprised mostly of phone numbers and blank forms. Most importantly, it includes no directions for how to deal with another deep-water explosion in the future.
9. A large number of fishermen are becoming seriously ill – and many of them believe that the chemicals that BP is using in the Gulf are to blame. Local shrimpers in Louisiana are already predicting that it will be seven years before they can set to sea again.
10. Gambling websites are now placing odds on what species will be first to become extinct as a result of the oil belching from BP’s ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico.
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