Thursday, June 3, 2010

We're in Deepwater Now

Yay for new posts!  Now let's get down to business.  I'm sure everyone has heard about the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Big news!  Well, I was watching Rachel Maddow recently when I heard an interesting bit of information.  

Apparently, a spill by the same company as the one going on right now, happened in the same place - the Gulf of Mexico - back in 1979 AND - here's the kicker! - they used all the same techniques to try to get rid of it and guess what!  Yeah, they didn't work then, either.  

Alright, first of all, I'm pretty upset about this whole thing.  It seems obvious to me that we are simply not ready to handle drilling offshore in such deep waters.  (Sorry, a little pun there, unintentional if you believe it.)  The oil spill going on right now is about 5,000 feet below sea level.  If you look back, the similar one I mentioned from 1979 was about 200 feet below sea level.  That spill lasted an amazing NINE MONTHS.  I kid you not.  So, why in the world would we believe we can handle a spill in 5,000 feet if it took us nine-friggin-months to clean up a spill 30 years ago in only 200 feet?  

Well, perhaps you think, well we have better technology now.   Perhaps we do, but if I recall correctly, the same sort of back-up system in place in the Deepwater Horizon was used in the 1979 spill.  And, yeah, it didn't prevent a spill then, either.  Perhaps if we had better methods for cleaning up the spill, then it would be okay to delve so far beneath the ocean waves to pump up oil.  But, yeah, we don't.  The same methods are being used to clean up this one as 30 years ago.  The same chemicals are being sprayed into our oceans (endangering sea life) now.  And it's been proven these chemicals are unsafe to the animals whose habitats our greedy oil tycoons have invaded in the first place.  But, we keep on using them.  

Apparently, these chemicals are not only unsafe for the animals (and also, not biodegradable, big shocker there) but they are also not actually supposed to be used for getting rid of the oil, only dispersing it into a larger area.  Seriously.  As if killing more wildlife will make the situation any better.  Their cap didn't work either.  What about relief wells?  They're expected by August.  Yeah, two months away - and that's just the best case scenario.  (Side note: have you seen all the ways people are thinking up to soak up the oil?  Human hair, goat hair, etc. - but no one is taking them seriously.  What if these things could work?  It's better than shoving golf balls down there, like some doofus at BP suggested.)

Let's talk about how BP has lied about the output of this gushing well from the beginning, shall we?  At first they were saying less, then they were saying 5,000 gallons a day (which happens to be the number they said they were cleaning out of the well, too - strange, huh?), now we know it's closer to 40 to 50,000 BARRELS a day - each barrel containing 50 gallons.  I cannot even comment on this, it's just too shocking.

On top of all this, the oil spill is also threatening the marshes lining our coasts.  Big deal, right?  Well, these marshes, besides being home to countless species of animals and plants that deserve better treatment, are really important for slowing down the progress of hurricanes that come on shore.  The marshes literally save lives every year.  And they are currently being destroyed by this completely out of hand leak.  (And I hesitate to even use the word 'leak' as it's a ridiculous understatement - as if it were a leaky faucet, dripping out oil every now and then.)

I'm sure you can tell I'm pretty ticked off by this issue.  And I will go a step further.  I do not believe we should be drilling offshore.  Not only can we get dangerous leaks such as the one still gushing 2,500,000 gallons of oil every day (I hadn't actually written out the number until now; can you even fathom that much oil?  It's an absolute travesty!), but the simple truth is that we just do not have enough oil on this earth for it to be a sustainable energy source.  

However, looking at the website for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it seems coal could become a bigger problem (see the link below, there's an interesting graph on page 66, on the right (don't worry, the link is only 5 pages long) showing that coal is projected to have the largest share in our energy sources by 2035.

Still, what about all those great renewable sources like wind and solar?  According to the EIA (mentioned above), in 2007 we used a total of (maybe you should sit down?) 101.545 QUADRILLION Btu (Side note: "The British thermal unit (BTU or Btu) is a traditional unit of energy equal to about 1.06 kilojoules. It is approximately the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit." - direct quote from Wikipedia.)  I wasn't even sure that kind of number existed!  It's like a thousand trillion (which is a thousand billion, which is a thousand million, etc.)  It's like a thousand times our national debt - Times another hundred!  It's ridiculous.  Out of that, 86.212 Quadrillion Btu came from fossil fuels (total).  Petroleum was accountable for 39.773 Quadrillion Btu.  Coal was close behind with 22.776.  But the renewables? - total, about 6.813 Quadrillion Btu, with wind at 0.341 and solar at 0.081.  

We're really in a pickle here, folks.  That oil isn't going to last forever, and as we can see from this oil spill, which I forgot to mention before is way way worse than the Exxon Valdez spill up near Alaska, drilling offshore is dangerous.  Our economy can't handle importing so much fossil fuel from the Middle East and other countries.  I don't know much about Natural Gas (23.637 - usage in 2007), but coal pumps harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  I generally think Obama is doing pretty well, but where's all that renewable energy he was talking about?  I wish it were more of a priority for him (though I understand what kind of mess he has to clean up after the last ding-a-ling in office).

Everyone should take a look at the report on electricity, here: as well as the energy usage report I quoted, which can be found here: 

I am truly sorry for any inaccuracies, and don't forget to post your comments!  This should be a good one for discussion.

Progress on the book:  somewhere around 15 pages so far, and major plot developments worked out, at least in theory.  It's looking pretty good.  When I don't have any ideas for the scene I'm doing, I go back and do some editing.  Overall, it's going well.  I'm currently reading another Danielle Steel book called Toxic Bachelors.  I think I'll start making a little note of what I'm reading, from now on.

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