Oil continues to spill
from the rig wreckage in the Gulf of Mexico. While many commentators are
beginning to discuss the disaster's political fallout
, the environmental impact
is the more immediate concern to local residents and many in the public. Just how bad is this
going to be?
- 'The Bad ... The Worse ... The Ugliest' David Kotok,
chairman and CIO of Cumberland Advisors, surveys the situation at The
Big Picture--it's not pretty. The "bad" scenario is that "Containment
chambers are put in place and they catch the outflow from the three
ruptures that are currently pouring 200,000 gallons of oil into the
Gulf every day. If this works, it will take until June to complete."
The "worse" scenario involves the oil "spew[ing] for months ... Damages
by this time may be measured in the hundreds of billions. Cleanup will
take many, many years. Tourism, fishing, all related industries may be
fundamentally changed for as much as a generation. Spread to Mexico
and other Gulf geography is possible." The "ugliest" would be if it
took even longer: "The Gulf becomes a damaged sea for a generation.
The oil slick leaks beyond the western Florida coast, enters the
Gulfstream and reaches the eastern coast of the United States and
- Surpassing the Exxon Valdez? "Depending on how long the well leaks," it could happen, writes Newsweek's David Graham. "BP
is fabricating giant steel domes in New Orleans to place over the
leaks. That process will take several days, and then the domes have to
be placed using robots in poor visibility-a difficult process."
- Ecosystem, Livelihoods at Risk "The spill," writes entrepreneur-philanthropist D. K. Matai
at The Huffington Post, "... threatens hundreds of species of wildlife
and sealife, from birds to marine mammals and fish: including dolphins,
shrimp, oysters and crabs. This will affect the livelihoods of the
Gulf's local communities, some of whom are still recovering from the
Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005." Perhaps worse, as the slick
spreads, it could hit the Florida Keys, "home to the only living coral
barrier reef in North America, and the third largest coral barrier reef
in the world."
- The Catalogue of Creatures Affected Jerry Remmers
at The Moderate Voice goes over all the species wildlife officials are
worried about, starting with "bluefin tuna, bottlenose dolphin, sperm
whale, oysters, West Indian manatee and the Gulf manhaden." Then there
are the land creatures, which include "about 5 million migratory birds
[that] stop [in the area] to lay eggs and others to feed." Two
endangered reptiles, "the loggerhead turtle and the Kemp's ridley
turtle come to the gulf to feed beginning in May, and lay their eggs
along the coast's beaches." The endangered diamondback terrapin and the
alligator could also be affected through dwindling food supply.
- Birds Particularly Hit, says Time's Bryan Walsh. The Gulf's shorebirds "are in their prime breeding season," and conservationists are horrified at the timing.