Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Gulf of Mexico

When the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster erupted, I was living in Kentucky but still making several trips to Florida per year. On Twitter and my blogs, I reported the horrifying details and some asked me if my Florida days were through. (By way of response, I actually moved here.)

Most of the public, whose attention span is akin to that of an overripe grapefruit, have already forgotten the BP disaster. Even many in Florida. Most believe that the undersea oil leaks have stopped (they haven't), that the Corexit fixed everything (it didn't), and that oil companies now operate much more responsibly after all the wakeup call and bad press (they do not.)

The toxic dispersant Corexit only created the illusion of fixing the problem, and has indeed made things far worse - what it actually does it micronize the oil into tiny particles. And anyone who has read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back knows that is no way to clean a mess. Even the EPA, who has been complicit in the destruction of the Gulf all along, admits Corexit's toxicity even as they approve its use:

(1) 10.72 parts per million (ppm) of oil alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.

(2) 25.20 parts per million of dispersant (Corexit 9500) alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.

(3) 2.61 parts per million of dispersed oil (Corexit-laden) alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.

As we've noted here previously, the filth that spews into the Gulf from the Mississippi River, having taken on all manner of pollutants dumped into it on its way down, is already an environmental disaster before BP ever blew up. Industrial waste, urban storm-drain runoff, agricultural pesticides and chemicals, weedkillers, fungicides, fertilizers, farm animal growth hormones and antibiotics, human sewage containing disease and pharmaceutical traces, etc. The Gulf of Mexico, fortuhately or unfortunately, acts as sort of kidneys for the greater ocean beyond, and the presence of Corexit has damaged those kidneys. (And probably yours, too.)

The active oil rigs out there in the Gulf right now numbers in the hundreds, and still many more are closed up and abandoned. Each one of them, even the closed ones, present a risk of leakage or a future blowout. As the well caps age and deteriorate, it gradually becomes less of a risk and more of a certainty. And once such a blowout occurs, despite what oil-industry shills tell you, they can never truly be fixed. The pressure from below has been brought to bear, and if it can't find release in the capped well, it will began to creep out somewhere else, seeking the path of least resistance. Have you ever taped up or spackled over a leak in your ceiling, only to watch the leak reoccur beside it next time? Same thing.

Even more devastating than everything just mentioned, though, is the effect all this has on the oxygen in the waters of the Gulf. This means that ancient anaerobic bacteria and archaea that predate oxygen-using life are starting to reassert dominance, and the oil leaks and Corexit have hastened that immensely. The byproducts of such bacteria are hydrogen sulfide and methane, which were already a problem enough before without it now being compounded. The dead zones in the Gulf (and the oceans in general) are growing by leaps and bounds, and methane clathrates and methane hydrates are continually being introduced to the water via oil drilling. While our earnest activist friends may rant and rave about how we need to idle our cars less and keep a low "carbon footprint", they're picking the wrong target and focusing on only one broom closet of a burning building.

And don't even get me started on the rising statistic of the flesh-eating Vibrio vulnificus bacteria which has experienced a drastic rise as of late. And that's only one of the many pathogens that are finding the current state of the Gulf a perfect breeding ground. Alexandrium fundyense, the algae that causes "Red Tide", is also skyrocketing and covering greater and greater areas of beach than ever before, taking with them scores of manatees and multitudes of fish. As State of the Nation has noted:

What NOAA will not tell you about Red tide is that there are circumstances beyond certain environmental conditions which encourage this highly toxic algae to bloom. Just like the human bioterrain, when the intestinal flora becomes imbalanced, the opportunistic candida albicans fungus will colonize within the GI tract and overtake the eugenic bacteria required for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. If allowed to persist without proper intervention, systemic candidiasis can result, which can ultimately give rise to a pre-cancerous condition in the various target organs and tissues weakened by the pathogenic, mutated candida.

(Okay, okay, Jeff, shit, shut up, is that it? No.)

The deeper the oil wells being drilled out of increasing desperation, the more naturally recurring radioactive material from underground is being brought to the surface. For those of you who prefer to hold just one simple smoking gun of planetary doom - rather than juggling the variety of cofactors swirling around our heads - try this one: radiation disseminated by oil/gas extraction operations. And not just in the Gulf, but worldwide.

Even without the nonstop pouring of radioactive waste coming from Fukushima, and even without the massive amount of radioactive material the US has released over decades in its nuclear tests, the effect of this pervasive ionizing radiation from drilling is crucial to the future of this round rock right where you are sitting now. The deeper the geological source of the hydrocarbons, the more radioactive isotopes present in oil and gas - and yes, that means the oil and gas you put in your car. The radioactive component of these resources is one of the biggest open secrets in human history, and is almost too big for even fracking engineers to wrap their heads around, because it means our entire societal system that depends on so-called "fossil" fuels is exactly what will collapse said societal system in the end.

So why I am in Florida, and why aren't I packing my bags? Well, because I have a job to do, and it's gotta get done. I tell you these inconvenient truths not to dampen your spirits or to dissuade you from visiting Florida, I tell you because it's simply better to be knowledgeable than not, and that perhaps it will inspire you be a little more proactive about whatever it is you're doing. Do it now. Later is now.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you see what the long term effects are to the Gulf region. As I do every June-July, I went and stayed out on Cayo Costa and have never seen as much wildlife as I did this year. I've been venturing out there for 8 yrs and it was like the government took tons of wildlife and deposited right on the shorelines. We couldn't even stay in the few inches of water just a few inches off the coastline, as hoards of stingrays beached themselves and schools of large fish, sharks and manatees were right in the water with us. I have never seen it this way....ever. It is my belief that many of these species are moving further south into cleaner more primitive waters, due to the damage done to the Gulf. It was really an incredible sight to behold, but it made me really wonder. It was a unbelievable amount of species & keep in mind, I've been going out there the better part of this past decade.