A great article from the current New Yorker. Elizabeth Kolbert on the rapid demise of fish in our oceans due to over-fishing.
If the Atlantic bluefin tuna were the first species to be fished into oblivion, its destruction would be shameful. But, of course, its story has become routine. Cod, once so plentiful off the coast of Newfoundland that they could be scooped up in baskets, are now scarce. The same goes for halibut, haddock, swordfish, marlin, and skate; it’s been calculated that stocks of large predatory fish have declined by ninety per cent in the past half century. In 1943, Rachel Carson was a young biologist working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when she wrote a booklet titled “Food from the Sea.” The point of the boosterish guide was to convince American consumers of the delectableness of fish like the wolffish, an enormous creature with a bulbous head, big teeth, and an eel-like body. Wolffish is “one of New England’s underexploited fishes, a condition that will be corrected when housewives discover its excellence,” Carson wrote. Apparently, she was so persuasive—and bottom trawling so wrecked its habitat—that the wolffish is now considered a threatened species.
The sorry state of ocean life has led to a new kind of fish story—a lament not for the one that got away but for the countless others that didn’t. In “Saved by the Sea: A Love Story with Fish” (St. Martin’s; $25.99), David Helvarg notes that each year sharks kill some five to eight humans worldwide; meanwhile we kill a hundred million of them. Dean Bavington, the author of “Managed Annihilation: An Unnatural History of the Newfoundland Cod Collapse” (University of British Columbia; $94), observes that two hundred billion pounds’ worth of cod were taken from Canada’s Grand Banks before 1992, when the cod simply ran out. In “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” (Penguin Press; $25.95), Paul Greenberg estimates that somewhere in the range of a hundred million salmon larvae used to hatch in the Connecticut River each year. Now the number’s a lot easier to pin down: it’s zero. “The broad, complex genetic potential of the Connecticut River salmon,” Greenberg writes, has “vanished from the face of the earth.”
I have no reason to believe that this scenario is likely to occur.
Ominous reports are leaking past the BP Gulf salvage operation news blackout that the disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico may be about to reach biblical proportions.
251 million years ago a mammoth undersea methane bubble caused massive explosions, poisoned the atmosphere and destroyed more than 96 percent of all life on Earth. Experts agree that what is known as the Permian extinction event was the greatest mass extinction event in the history of the world.
55 million years later another methane bubble ruptured causing more mass extinctions during the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum (LPTM).
The LPTM lasted 100,000 years.
Those subterranean seas of methane virtually reshaped the planet when they explosively blew from deep beneath the waters of what is today called the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, worried scientists are increasingly concerned the same series of catastrophic events that led to worldwide death back then may be happening again-and no known technology can stop it.
The bottom line: BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation may have triggered an irreversible, cascading geological Apocalypse that will culminate with the first mass extinction of life on Earth in many millions of years.
But it has happened before.
Updated July 13: Well, there definitely is another side to this story. It is likely bunk.
The ultimate July 4th fireworks.
The full story is here.
(via The Big Picture)
Yes, that’s right. The moment Hitler heard about the oil spill.
This is a speech that I wish Obama had given.
(via Andrew Sullivan)
It is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown.
– Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologizing to BP for the creation of a $20 Billion escrow by BP to cover a portion of the costs caused by its horrendous oil spill. This could be a career limiting statement by Congressman Barton. He also called the relief fund a “slush” fund.
Update: Click here for a review of the (apparently very) numerous Joe Barton apologies. Refresh the site for more.
Update 2: Jon Stewart takes up the baton.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Day 59 – Judgment Day – The Strife Aquatic|
A commenter at The Oil Drum argues that the BP spill may be unstoppable. The site caters to those knowledgable about oilfield geology, drilling and related issues and the poster seems to know what he is talking about. If he is correct, this could be the worst case scenario imaginable. Read the post and be afraid. (Via Mother Jones)
Here is an excerpt:
All the actions and few tid bits of information all lead to one inescapable conclusion. The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking. Now you have some real data of how BP’s actions are evidence of that, as well as some murky statement from “BP officials” confirming the same.
… To those of us outside the real inside loop, yet still fairly knowledgeable, it was a major confirmation of what many feared. That the system below the sea floor has serious failures of varying magnitude in the complicated chain, and it is breaking down and it will continue to.
What does this mean?
It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot…the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?…the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle?…it doesn’t leak so bad, you close the nozzle?…it leaks real bad, same dynamics. It is why they sawed the riser off…or tried to anyway…but they clipped it off, to relieve pressure on the leaks “down hole”. I’m sure there was a bit of panic time after they crimp/pinched off the large riser pipe and the Diamond wire saw got stuck and failed…because that crimp diverted pressure and flow to the rupture down below.
Contrary to what most of us would think as logical to stop the oil mess, actually opening up the gushing well and making it gush more became direction BP took after confirming that there was a leak. In fact if you note their actions, that should become clear. They have shifted from stopping or restricting the gusher to opening it up and catching it. This only makes sense if they want to relieve pressure at the leak hidden down below the seabed…..and that sort of leak is one of the most dangerous and potentially damaging kind of leak there could be. It is also inaccessible which compounds our problems. There is no way to stop that leak from above, all they can do is relieve the pressure on it and the only way to do that right now is to open up the nozzle above and gush more oil into the gulf and hopefully catch it, which they have done, they just neglected to tell us why, gee thanks.
A down hole leak is dangerous and damaging for several reasons.
There will be erosion throughout the entire beat up, beat on and beat down remainder of the “system” including that inaccessible leak. The same erosion I spoke about in the first post is still present and has never stopped, cannot be stopped, is impossible to stop and will always be present in and acting on anything that is left which has crude oil “Product” rushing through it. There are abrasives still present, swirling flow will create hot spots of wear and this erosion is relentless and will always be present until eventually it wears away enough material to break it’s way out. It will slowly eat the bop away especially at the now pinched off riser head and it will flow more and more. Perhaps BP can outrun or keep up with that out flow with various suckage methods for a period of time, but eventually the well will win that race, just how long that race will be?…no one really knows….However now?…there are other problems that a down hole leak will and must produce that will compound this already bad situation.
This down hole leak will undermine the foundation of the seabed in and around the well area. It also weakens the only thing holding up the massive Blow Out Preventer’s immense bulk of 450 tons. In fact?…we are beginning to the results of the well’s total integrity beginning to fail due to the undermining being caused by the leaking well bore.
I have been for this approach for some time now. The most likely way to stop the oil leak is to use an explosion to seal the well. And a small nuclear device may be the best way to do this. Fuse the rock into glass and be done with it.
(via The Big Picture)