World Events

Posted: June 20, 2010 in Environment, Science
Tags:

ZOMG World Cup! Oh right I said that last week. But it still applies. This has been a fabulous week of upsets: Switzerland beat Spain, New Zealand drew against Italy, France lost to Mexico. All in all it’s been an exciting week in the world of Football.

But this week I don’t want to talk about football.

The greatest man-made disaster in the history of humanity is still unravelling in the gulf. Both the left and right wing in this country i railing about Obama not doing enough on to address the oil spill. The left arguing that he’s not moving fast enough. The right is complaining about what he’s wearing. Neither side is willing to acknowledge the real problem here:

There’s nothing Obama can do about this.

There’s nothing ANYONE can do about this spill.

Sure they’re going to drill relief wells. If you want to bet on them being successful, I’ll be happy to take your money. They’re still drilling relief wells to stop a leak from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (This leak is much smaller than the Deepwater Horizon leak, but goes to the point of how long it takes to drill successful relief wells). Some of the smartest people out there are predicting that the well will continue to spew oil and methane (natural gas) until the pressure equalizes, which based on the flow rates (60K barrels a day) that have been reported could be as much as several years from now:

“If it went uncontrolled it could certainly leak for two years and certainly longer than that, said Philip Johnson, a professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Alabama.

The flow rate will slow as the gas in the reservoir is exhausted, but there’s no way of knowing when that will be.

The moral of the story is that we can expect to be cleaning the better part of 3.6M barrels of oil out of the Gulf if the well stopped gushing today. That’s after two months of leaking. If this goes on for a year – that’s 21.6M barrels of oil – almost 1B gallons. Think about 1B milk jugs. Full of OIL. in the Gulf of Mexico. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the impact of the natural gas (methane) which is being spewed into the Gulf Where crude oil is the visible killer, methane is the invisible killer. It’s going to create enormous dead zones where nothing can live in the water. Then it’s going to evaporate.

Methane is a greenhouse gas, which is about 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide. It contributes about 10% of the greenhouse effect on earth right now. As far as I can tell, the media has almost completely neglected this aspect of the disaster.


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