Back in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill dominated both the US and international news.
For those in need of a refresher, the oil spill was one of the worst oil disasters in history. More than 200 million gallons of oil was spilled into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days, affecting the coasts of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.
While the spilled oil has largely dissipated, its impact is still being felt. This is especially true when it comes to the coral communities.
According to a new study published this week in the online Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “[t]he footprint of the impact of the spill on coral communities is both deeper and wider than previous data indicated”.
The chief researcher on the project, Charles Fisher, a biologist based at Penn State University notes: “This study very clearly shows that multiple coral communities, up to 22 kilometers from the spill site and at depths over 1800 meters, were impacted by the spill.”
Coral communities are of particular interest to marine biologists for a number of reasons. Unlike most marine animals, coral have a mineralized skeleton which can last years after the animal has died. By comparing those that were around during the spill vs. those formed before and after, scientists can “[use] it as a model for the progression of damage caused by the spill over time.”
For those reading this and wondering what it has to do with them and what impact this has on their lives, the simple answer is “a lot.”
Those who make their living from the seas are the most directly affected. However, even those of us who don’t must live with the environmental damage that such spills cause.
As long as we remain dependent on oil, oil spills will happen not matter what the PR firms of BP, Exxon, Shell, etc. tell us.
Many of us wrongly believe that we have no other real alternative to fossil fuels and therefore, oil is a necessary evil, but that is not the case.
In the July 3-17, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, Nobel Price winner/former VP and former Presidential candidate, Al Gore, writes that “[o]ur ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone ever predicted.”
Approximately 37 percent of Germany’s daily electricity is generated from wind and solar sources.
Bangladesh is now the world’s most rapidly growing market for photovoltaic power generators (PVs) with a staggering two new rooftop PVs installed nearly every hour.
However, thanks to the oil lobby, many Americans feel that solar and wind energy are still a pipe dream and far too expensive to become a reality any time soon.
As the facts demonstrate, this is simply not true.
However, the only way America will get off the fossil fuel teat is if the public demands chance.
Hopefully in the near future, oil spills like one that occurred in the Deepwater Horizon will be a think of the past.
It’s something that we owe it to ourselves and all species of life on earth-plants, coral, etc.
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Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: DVIDS at Flickr