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With the CSSF Workshops consuming most of my time, I had no idea just how bad things have gotten in the BP Gulf oil spill.

First off, apparently the seabed - not just the ruined well - is leaking 65,000 barrels of crude oil daily: That's 2,700,000 gallons of oil every day.

Microbes that love to eat oil need oxygen to do so; the Gulf waters are becoming oxygen-deprived dead zones.

The stuff spilling from this well is only 60% oil; the 40% remainder is methane, compared with 5% found in typical oil deposits. So along with each barrel of oil, 2,900 cubic feet of natural gas (mostly methane) is being released into the Gulf waters. That's more than 188,000,000 (188 million) cubic feet of methane every day. So far, about 13 billion cubic feet have been released, making it one of the hugest methane eruptions in history. Methane is probably the worst greenhouse gas around.

Along with methane, vast amounts of toxic benzene are being released into the region; benzene levels in New Orleans have risen to 3,000 parts per billion (0-5 ppb are considered acceptible).

The ocean floor is fracturing, and a vast ocean of methane seems to have been disturbed and is rising. If it fully erupts, we're talking utter devastation. Geologists estimate that this methane pocket is 20 miles across and tens of feet deep, probably frozen. If it turns to gas... wow. First you get a bubble that sinks every boat working the spill (can't float on gas). Then huge tsunamis blast the shorelines. If there's an ignition source, you get a ball of fire like we've never seen, consuming all the oxygen. Speaking of which, you also get utter dead zones across the Gulf, because there's no oxygen left in the water. Worst-case scenarios describe global extinction-level events....

Here's the article that got me researching this so late tonight. It's pretty alarmist, but seems to be based on more-sensible sources.

Here's a more level-headed report.

And here's one with more sources.

Might this be the coming of the end for modern civilization? For most of life on Earth? Or maybe just a major killing-off of life in the Gulf?

What a thing to say, what options. Even if massive tsunamis don't end up ravaging the Gulf Coast; even if all life isn't extinguished in that body of water; even if the seabed collapse doesn't trigger global mass-extinction, we're facing the worst catastrophe in human history.

And here I thought my little problems were a big deal. Woof.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 12th, 2010 08:48 am (UTC)
A sobering set of articles to go to sleep on.
Jul. 12th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
No kidding. I did not sleep well....
Jul. 12th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
I read the first article the other day, after Roger Ebert linked it via Twitter. This was after catching another article on it that Warren Ellis linked a couple weeks prior, which, while interesting, was obviously written by someone with a bit less understanding.

Getting ready to read the other articles later this morning, after I finish the piece of art that I'm on deadline for. That said, yeah, it's safe to say that something's more screwed than the media is being made aware of, it's just a matter of waiting to see how badly.

Makes one wonder if they make air filters that can filter out methane, too.
Jul. 12th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
I'm hoping that the first article turns out to be simple freak-out, and that the effects described in the other articles turn out to be exaggerated as well. But the minimal disaster the Gulf region faces is still horrible.
Jul. 12th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
This whole thing just has me sick to my stomach. I would like to turn away from and pretend it isn't happening, but that's wrong of course. Thanks for these links.
Jul. 12th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I couldn't look away once I found out how bad things are down there. Time to start living each day as if it's our last, eh?
Jul. 12th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
It's been frightening and there was conversation about a horrific hurrican season causing even more disruption.

It scares me that some of the doomsday theorists might be getting louder:
Jul. 12th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
this story has been disturbing me since day 1. the photos the dying birds and fish just really sock me in the gut. i've tried to ignore it...of course it's impossible to ignore something so big and so catastrophic.

the first time i heard of any end-of-planet-earth scenarios, i was in my 20's. it was a person in some religious cult handing out fliers about how god was planning to extinguish the earth at the end of the year. since then, i've heard so many predictions of planet=ending catastrophes that i do not take them seriously anymore. i don't believe that the disaster in the gulf will kill the planet.

i think that we have a chernobyl eviqualent down there. and that part of earth will be dead for many years to come. it is interesting, tho, how close these predictions come to the end of the mayan calendar.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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