Treehuggers International

Static Kill: Taking Stock of the BP Oil Spill In the Gulf of Mexico

August 12th, 2010
    “Man is the cruelest animal. At tragedies, bullfights, and crucifixions he has so far felt best on
    earth; and when he invented hell for himself, behold, that was his very heaven.”
    – Nietzsche

Hell on Earth? Oil slick and controlled burns on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

Industrial Disease

The deadly explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig and resulting three-month well blowout has become, without a doubt, the largest maritime oil spill in history and one of the worst environmental calamities ever. The idea any future spill could be even more widespread and destructive than the Gulf of Mexico tragedy is not only unfathomable, but unthinkable.

Yet, even as we post our interview with Below the Surface’s Jared Criscuolo, British Petroleum and other oil companies are initiating new well-drilling operations in the same affected areas of the Gulf of Mexico, without allowing for time to learn from mistakes in the case of the Deepwater Horizon, reflect on the magnitude of the disaster, take into account the effect of dispersants on marine life, or giving pause to consider how likely a scenario a similar disaster may be in another six months? Five years?

Oily debris along Ship Island, Mississippi.

The BP oil spill has also come to personify the worst excesses of corporate greed, enabled regulatory laxness, bureaucratic inertia, and the utter inability of corporate elites to come to terms with the havoc wreaked upon a generation of working Americans whose livelihoods depended on the sea now so positively fouled by British Petroleum, and a fossil fuel energy machine which shows no signs of abating or responsibly accepting renewed regulatory oversight.

While the federal government can respond to a disaster on the ground with helicopter rescue operations, medical professionals, food, water, and shelter, in the case of the Deepwater Horizon the government was held hostage by a private corporation unwilling, at first, to reveal how bad the situation was, and never wholly came clean on the volume of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico every day.

Impotent Response

Unfortunately, BP was also one of the few entities in the world with the people and matériel on hand which could specifically combat this kind of deep water well blowout; they just had to learn on the job as the crisis grew worse from moment to moment. Reduced to an impotent state of waiting on BP, the Obama administration quickly learned, in the words of Ashley Judd, “if you have a six-story building in your town, you don’t have a two-story fire department.”

Even though the well has been successfully capped, the spill continues to damage marine and wildlife habitats on a scale difficult to imagine a few months ago. The Gulf Coast’s fishing and tourism industries have been decimated, with over 640 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline in five states affected. About 4.9 million barrels of sweet Louisiana crude violently belched into the Gulf of Mexico during the three-month spill, and while some of it was recovered and some of it was burned off, the majority of it remains hidden below the surface of the sea in massive plumes.

Many of these plumes are thousands of feet in height, literal clouds of oil lurking like colossal icebergs hidden beneath the surface, still poisoning, still killing, still upsetting the delicate balance of the sea at a point when it is clear the world’s oceans can take no more of man’s industrial disease.

An oily tide washing ashore at Orange Beach, Alabama.

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4 Comments so far

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  1. I agree with all of your comments on the Gulf Oil Spill. It is truly an enviromental catastrophe. Being from LA and living in LA it was and still is a very irresponsible oil company (British Petroleum). In reference to this oil company drilling in the same area again would be an insult! But the eager beaver will probably make the BIG BUCKS in spite of the worst oil spill in history. Our state bird, the brown pelicans, are being relocated to other states. I know it had to be done but at the same time I guess we should suggest new state birds. I will close by saying that it was so emotional for me to see all of our habitat suffering over the EAGER BEAVER!!!! Our mother earth is bleeding. I do not know if she will ever recover. If she does not, we humans will all pay the price. We are seeing the effects of the actions of mankind. Be good to nature and she will take care of you in return. Sincerely, Treehugger

  2. the oil spill in mexico really affected the eco system around that area, it would take years to clean those mess :

  3. oil spills can really mess up the environment, i hope we can find a very good solution to control oil spills `,:

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