Monday, May 31, 2010

The Costs of Offshore Drilling

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an environmental catastrophe that will have consequences that will span generations. The question we must now ask is do the costs of offshore oil outweigh the benefits.

For some, the lure of offshore oil is hard to resist. The International Petroleum Institute has estimated that deepwater oil fields contain as much as 300 billion barrels of recoverable oil, or more than Saudi Arabia's reserves.

It is widely known that the burning of oil is largely responsible for climate change. However, even without combustion, oil is a destructive source of complex hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Such materials will be absorbed and have an impact on the local marine life over time.

As primary consumers in the food chain, oysters, clams, and periwinkles will likely be among the first animals to accumulate hydrocarbons and heavy metals, which in turn will be passed on to the marine organisms that feed on these shellfish.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill showed that the Common loon, Cormorants, Harbor seal, Harlequin duck, and Pacific herring have not recovered while clams, killer whales, mussels and sea otters are still recovering more than 20 years later.

There are significant costs associated with the loss of livelihoods and incalculable short and long term costs associated with the destruction of marine habitats and wetlands. The oil pouring from the seabed into the Gulf will kill fish, mammals and birds, and turn giant swathes of ocean into dead zones.

Tighter regulations are inevitable but we need to see a wholesale shift away from offshore drilling for fossil fuels. Given the world's growing energy requirements, renewable sources of energy must play a larger role to meet that burgeoning demand.

Next: BP's Corporate Irresponsibility / Responsibility for the Costs of the Gulf Oil Spill / Obama Presidency and the Gulf Oil Spill

Related Posts
Managing the Massive Gulf Oil Spill
Offshore Oil is an Avoidable Tragedy
Two More Reasons to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels
The Business of Climate Change Deception
Palin Renews Call for Offshore Oil Exploitation
Drill Baby Drill
Peak Oil
The Economic Calamity of Peak Oil
Planning a Future Without Oil
The End of Oil and the Next Energy Economy
Reigning in Irresponsible Oil Giants Chevron and Exxon Mobil
Koch Industries' Environmental Crimes
Koch Industries Financing Climate Denial
Koch Industries Destroys the Environment & Funds Climate Denial
Protecting the Planet from Corporate Influence

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