12 August 2010

what's with all the oil spills?

The BP oil spill of course eclipsed the others that followed due to its sheer size as well as location. The oil spill in Kalamazoo in Michigan didn't receive as much coverage in comparison because well... it happened in Kalamazoo.

The Enbridge Energy pipeline burst and dumped nearly one million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River which runs directly into Lake Michigan. The pipe that burst is the part of one of the largest networks of pipeline in the world. It carries dirty tar-sands oil from Canada to distribution points throughout the Midwest.

Tar-sands is the most pointless exercise of oil extraction in the history of oil extraction. First the ancient boreal forests were cleared then jaw-dropping quantities of energy and water are required to extract the thing that is supposed to provide more energy and create more pollution. The process is so toxic and leaves a sludge so big that it can be seen from space.

Closer to home the Mumbai spill has been officially declared as an ecological disaster today. Having occurred off the coast of the Elephanta mangroves, it poses a risk for spawning fish and sea turtles which use the area as nesting grounds. The spill coincides very unfortunately with nesting season for endangered turtle species. It will also affect other ocean life like lobsters, sponges, bivalves as well as marine animals and birds. This morning it was declared that the slick had reached the high tide mark and the "slow poisoning has begun". In addition to this, $4bn will be lost by this weekend if the port continues to be inoperational, what with being one of the busiest ports in the world. If the situaiton continues, the city of Mumbai could run out of fuel.

Trickle down effects include losses in the fishery and tourism industry. Already 500kg of fish were found to be contaminated and fishermen in the area are woeful about future prospects. The spill in Mumbai occurred after two Panamanian carrier ships collided and the on-going inquiry will tell us why this happened. However, as with the aftermath of every disaster the reasons why it happened gives little comfort because it did happen.

Everyday we are faced with reasons to wean ourselves off of petroleum. Its about time we started.

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