The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill – The End Of the World As We Know It?

Image of Earth – NASA (Public Domain) Modified by Cal Jennings

By: Space Eagle

Some people seem oblivious to the possible outcome of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It has the potential to release 4.2 million gallons a day. Multiply that by 90 days and you have 378 million gallons of black, life robbing goo in the Gulf and on the shore lines. If dispersants are used, you can add the number of gallons of semi-toxic to toxic chemicals it will take to disperse the oil. Dispersants don’t make the oil go away. They will simply suspend the oil in the water. The Gulf of Mexico will then become dirty dish water. For those interested in cashing in on this disaster, investing in sea food might be a wise move. It will soon become a rare dish that only the affluent will be able to afford. You might invest in other foods as well because the prices on them will go up since people will be forced off of seafood which will cause the demand for beef and pork to rise. It’s doubtful that canned tuna and potted meats will be inexpensive much longer. Household detergents might rapidly rise in price with the amount of detergents they will have to use if they decide to use dispersants. Of course, the price of everything will rise due to the price of transportation costs because of the resulting rise in the price of oil.

Besides sea life being destroyed, animals and birds which live in the marshes and wetlands will be threatened. The wildlife in the Florida Everglades could be eradicated. Rare birds, mammals, reptiles, plants, invertebrates, amphibians, and mollusks will suffer horrible deaths should the spill reach the area. Beach front property in the Gulf of Mexico will not be a very attractive commodity. The Gulf Stream could cause it to endanger the East Coast beaches and Gulf Stream islands as well.

Plants, animals, birds, and even humans in the long run, are at risk from this disaster. The toxins that are being and will be distributed into the briny waters will reach land as well. What is crude oil? The Earth Science from Moorland School website explains.

“Fossil fuels were formed from the fossilized remains of dead plants and animals that once lived millions of years ago. Oil and natural gas are the products of the deep burial and decomposition of dead plants and animals. Heat and pressure, in the absence of oxygen, transform the decomposed material into tiny pockets of gas and crude oil. The oil and gas then migrates through the pores in the rocks to eventually collect in reservoirs.”

And

“Crude oil is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons with small amounts of other chemicals such as sulfur. The crude oil is useless as a mixture and must be sent to an oil refinery to be separated. Crude oils from different parts of the world, or even from different depths in the same oilfield, contain different mixtures of hydrocarbons and other compounds. This is why they vary from light colored volatile liquids to thick, dark oils.”

Depending upon the makeup of the oil, it could have high levels of toxic chemicals such as benzene, xylene, and other chemicals that are hazardous to life.

From MadSci Network:

“Paraffins, Olefins, Naphthenes, and Aromatics. In this context, paraffins are straight-chain or branched hydrocarbons in which there are no double or triple bonds between carbon atoms. Olefins are similar to paraffins, but they contain at least one multiple bond in their chemical structure. Naphthenes are saturated hydrocarbons, just like paraffins, but they incorporate a ring of carbon atoms into their chemical structure. Aromatics contain a benzene ring in their structure. Oil refineries are factories for separating these different types of compounds from one another and for converting compounds from one type into compounds of another type. “

Burning the oil sends the chemicals into the atmosphere where they can be carried by the winds. Depending on the wind direction, this could cause harmful chemicals to make their way to cities along the coast lines. Generally, a large amount of methane will be released from oil wells as well. Unfortunately, it seems that API (American Petroleum Institute) has taken down the educational pages to which the engineer links to give more specific formulas for the makeup of crude oil as well as its other educational pages.

Gulf Stream Water Temperatures (Yellow and Orange) – NASA (Public Domain)

As you can see from the picture above in the yellow and orange, the Gulf Stream reaches far beyond the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Gulf Stream – NOAA (Public Domain)

As you can see in this picture, the Gulf Stream reaches down into South America and across the Caribbean. The Gulf Stream, at about 30°W, 40°N, splits in two, with the northern stream crossing to northern Europe and the southern stream recirculating off of West Africa. Depending on currents and wind conditions, there is a possibility that oil and chemicals from this spill could be picked up by other currents and winds threatening Ireland and Great Britain. It could also be picked up by the West Wind drift and the North Atlantic Drift as seen in the picture below.

Probert Encyclopedia Antiquarian Map Archive

Should a hurricane arise during the spill, hazardous oil and chemicals could be blown farther inland than some may have under consideration. Depending upon how long the leak actually lasts and how much oil and gas rises from the subterranean well, there could be damage to much of the world’s oceans and coast lines. The worst case scenario could possibly be a large step toward the end of the world as we know it.

There has been much urging to switch to alternative forms of energy in the last two decades. Unfortunately, the words were not only ignored, but attacked by the Republican politicians. The, “Drill, baby, drill! And drill now!” results of the comments of Sarah Palin and Michael Steele memorably chanted at the Republican National Convention in 2008 has come to haunt them. This was certainly not putting the country first, nor was it considering any of the rest of the world.

Currently, some of the best minds available are working on the problem of this cataclysmic oil spill. It is unknown how effective their ideas and solutions will be. Certainly, there is going to be an atrocious amount of death of sea life, birds, and animals which inhabit the affected areas. Will the oceanographers, scientists, and petroleum engineers be able to come up with an effective solution to this disaster of biblical proportions? Will Sarah Palin learn to, as Fox News is so fond of saying, “Shut up?” Only time will tell.

Yahoo News – “Current timeline to shut down Gulf of Mexico oil spill: three months

National Geographic Daily News – “Gulf Oil Spill Could Reach East Coast Beaches

Earth Science from Moorland School – “FOSSILS INTO FUELS

MadSci Network: Chemistry – “Re: What is the chemical formula for crude oil/petroleum” by Chris Kaiser, Process Engineer, Anvil Corporation

The Huffington Post – “‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ Champions Silent On Gulf Oil Spill [UPDATED]