Oil is a product used by everyone, but sometimes oil is a problem. An oil spill is a leakage from an oceangoing tanker, pipelines, or other oil sources. Oil spills occur very frequently, and cause enormous ecological harm. About eight million barrels of oil are spilled each year. Tankers usually carry about five hundred million barrels of oil. Many oil spills, large in land or ocean coverage, have had major impacts on the earth and it’s inhabitants. Many animals die and some are injured in some way. Many plants and animals are endangered, or are now extinct.
One of the most recent oil spills to occur was when the spill followed a blowout that caused an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, which then sank off the coast of Louisiana. Deepwater Horizon oil spill is a massive ongoing oil spill and oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico that started on April 20, 2010. The oil spill covers a surface area of at least 2,500 square miles (6,500 km2) according to estimates reported on May 3, 2010 by Reuters. And upwards of 5,000 barrels of oil a day (NOAA’s estimate) continue to flow into the ocean.
On May 13 BP reported that the cost of the oil spill alone had reached $450 million, and the price tag for the spill was rising by at least $10 million a day. Due to this massive oil spill, one can fear problems, such as petroleum toxicity and oxygen depletion, that will result in an environmental disaster whether it reaches Gulf coast or not, damaging the Gulf of Mexico fishing industry, tourism industry, and habitat of hundreds of animal and bird species. The effects of offshore drilling can be disastrous.
My first concern is whether it is ethically right to drill off shore knowing that the effects are harmful to the marine ecosystem. Just from drilling alone (without spillage) we are polluting the water with different toxins that kills marine life. This can also affect human lives who may rely on seafood as a source of food or livelihood. My next concern is that if an oil spill occurs, it not only affects the marine ecosystems but will also affect the local fishermen who rely solely on marine. At times, these fishermen have 2 or 3 months in the year when they conduct most of their business.
Lastly, my concern is the unforeseen circumstances that will undoubtedly show up later such as the effects of Hiroshima bomb in Japan. The effects may be seen later in the bird species, bird death tolls from oil spills are recorded for the animals that reach the shore. It is believed that this accounts for roughly five to fifteen percent of the actual bird mortalities from oil spills. During this lifetime, we will not know the amount of damage and problems caused by the continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Although environmental groups have challenged off shore drilling since it became a practice, the federal government has allowed it. How much do we really know about offshore drilling- information that the public has access to? Is there any guarantee that it will not cause long term effects that are disastrous? Can the damage to the water and the seafood have a negative impact on human lives? Can too much drilling cause eruptions under the sea which might create tsunamis or earthquakes? Will the off-shore drilling result in closing down beaches along coasts creating economic havoc?
These points of debate are enough reason to rule against companies resorting to offshore drilling as a means of obtaining oil. Oil spills have significant long-term effects. These effects can be broken down into the long-term recovery of an ecosystem, chronic pollution and persistent contamination of ecosystems. In the recovery of an ecosystem, organisms that have been depopulated, have to reproduce. This is a slow process. At times, when a dominant species has been removed, others can gain an advantage through atypical survival of their young, and rearrange the order of the ecosystem.
Marine communities have a more rapid rate of succession than land communities such as forests, but it still takes several years. The amount of time needed for total recovery depends on the structural complexity of the system and the degree of damage that was done. Persistent contamination or chronic pollution severely hinders and slows an ecosystem’s ability to recover. Chronic pollution occurs when an environment is exposed to the persistent, continuous release of petroleum from refineries, petrochemical plants, oil ports, and other waste discharges Bird death tolls from oil spills are recorded for the animals that reach the shore.
It is believed that this accounts for roughly five to fifteen percent of the actual bird mortalities from oil spills. Diving sea birds have inordinate mortalities from oil spills. Other birds, such as seagulls and shearwaters, appear to avoid oil slicks on the water. One reason for the difference in mortality may be that when the diving birds resurface, they come up under an oil slick. The primary effect of oil on birds is the fouling of feathers, which disrupts insulation and buoyancy. This causes them to sink, drown, or lose body heat. Birds can also ingest.