Oil and Gold

There has not been such a dramatic demonstration in a long time of the consequences of the global obsession with the “black gold” as the recent oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. When just last month a methane explosion destroyed the “Deepwater Horizon” offshore oil rig, eleven oil workers were killed and 5.000 barrels of oil have leaked out every day since. The Deepwater Horizon incident is shaping up to be the largest oil spill disaster of all time in terms of environmental impact and cleanup costs, surpassing even the dramatic Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster in 1989. In that case, at least 250.000 barrels of crude oil were spilled over the course of time, causing environmental damage to seabirds, otters, ducks, salmon, herring and so forth that even now the region has not fully recovered from. The northern rim of the Gulf of Mexico also has many wildlife and bird reserves, particularly in southern Louisiana, which may be similarly affected this time. The consequences for the ecosystem are difficult to assess but are likely to be extremely negative for at least several decades. The coming hurricane season, which threatens to blow the oil spill (already the size of Delaware) further inland, may worsen this effect. The world’s already highly threatened edible fish stocks are under serious danger of significant further depletion, given how the northern Gulf of Mexico is a major source of seafood, well known as part of Louisiana cuisine. Continue reading “Oil and Gold”