As oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico at a staggering rate, many are now starting to realise that the pain from this oil spill will be felt not just for months or years – but for decades. At least 4.2 million gallons of oil (and some estimates put the total at far higher than that) are already in the Gulf of Mexico causing untold damage to the ecologically fragile Louisiana coast.
The oil has already made contact with the Chandeleur Islands off of the coast of Louisiana, and over the next few days more areas are expected to see oil come ashore. But just because this disaster is unfolding in slow-motion does not mean that this is not going to be a complete and utter tragedy for the Gulf Coast region. In fact, many of those living along the Gulf Coast now fear that this oil spill is going to do far more damage to the region than Hurricane Katrina did. And after Hurricane Katrina and everything else that folks living down there have been through over the past several years, the thought of weathering another massive tragedy is almost too much.
It certainly doesn’t help that those attempting to stop the leak don’t really seem to know what they are doing. After failing to contain the oil spill with a giant concrete and steel dome, BP announced on Monday that it will make a second attempt this week using a smaller version of the dome dubbed the “Top Hat”.
If BP was as good at stopping oil leaks as they are at coming up with cute little code names for their operations perhaps this crisis would be over by now.
But the truth is that attempting to do anything at depths of up to one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is extremely difficult.
It kind of makes you wonder what in the world we were doing drilling for oil down there in the first place.
In any event, BP is not just relying on the “Top Hat” to stop the leak.
BP is also considering plugging the damaged blowout preventer on the underwater well by pumping debris into it at high pressure. This technique is known as a “junk shot”.
Or, in other words, BP would be plugging the leak by shooting a bunch of garbage into it. One official recently described this method to CBS News this way….
“They are actually going to take a bunch of debris — some shredded up tires, golf balls and things like that — and under very high pressure shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up to stop the leak.”
But what many media outlets are not admitting is that the “junk shot” procedure is extremely risky. In fact, some experts are warning that tinkering with the damaged blowout preventer could make the leak much worse.
But something has got to be done. Even members of the U.S. Congress are admitting that this oil could end up getting into the Loop Current and going up the east coast of the United States….
“If this gusher continues for several months, it’s going to cover up the Gulf Coast and it’s going to get down into the Loop Current and that’s going to take it down into the Florida Keys and up the east coast of Florida,” Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson told CNN.
To get an idea of just how devastating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is already, check out the aerial footage in the video below. As you watch this video, just try to imagine how horrific this crisis is going to be if oil continues to gush into the Gulf for weeks or months….
The truth is that this has the potential to be one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the United States.
Seafood is a 2.4 billion dollar industry in the state of Louisiana. In fact, Louisiana produces more than 30 per cent of the seafood originating in the continental United States.
But that is about to dramatically change. As the waters off Louisiana are being progressively poisoned by all the oil, fishermen and shrimpers are starting to realise that their lives will never be the same.
In fact, some local shrimpers in Louisiana are already predicting that it will be seven years before they can set to sea again.
So are they being overly dramatic?
No, especially when you consider the fact that fishermen in Cordova, Alaska are still struggling 21 years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated the fishing industry in that region.
Already, environmentalists are warning that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could absolutely devastate the bird population of the region. You see, nearly 75 per cent of all U.S. waterfowl use Louisiana's three million acres of wetlands to rest or nest. Once the oil spill gets into those wetlands it is going to be an absolute nightmare for those waterfowl.
But it isn't just waterfowl that are at risk. Literally hundreds of different species that inhabit the coastal areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico will soon be facing an oily nightmare that they don't even know is coming. Entire ecosystems are going to be permanently altered. Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently put it this way....
'Florida is currently preparing for what we all know is an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions for our state and Gulf of Mexico partner states.'
In fact, Richard Charter of the Defenders of Wildlife says that we are looking at an environmental impact that is going to last for decades....
'It is so big and expanding so fast that it's pretty much beyond human response that can be effective. ... You're looking at a long-term poisoning of the area. Ultimately, this will have a multidecade impact.'
Anyone who has ever been to the Gulf Coast knows how amazingly beautiful that it can be. But once it is covered with millions of gallons of oil it will never be the same.
Brenda Prosser of Mobile, Alabama said that she wept when she saw the workers attempting to try to prevent the oil spill from spreading....
'I just started crying. I couldn't quit crying. I'm shaking now. To know that our beach may be black or brown, or that we can't get in the water, it's so sad.'
And it is a great tragedy. This didn't have to happen. But now the great natural beauty of our coasts is being destroyed and we aren't going to be able to get it back for a long, long time as Public Service Commissioner Benjamin Stevens recently explained....
'You get hit by a hurricane and you can rebuild. But when that stuff washes up on the white sands of Pensacola Beach, you can't just go and get more white sand.''
Louis Miller of the Mississippi Sierra Club was a bit more dramatic in describing what this oil spill means for the region....
'This is going to destroy the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast as we know it.'
Needless to say, very few people are going to want to vacation along the Gulf Coast for quite a long time.
Hotel Owner Dodie Vegas put it this way....
'It's just going to kill us. It's going to destroy us.'
#5) The Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill Is Going To Greatly Contribute To The Ongoing Poisoning Of The World's Water Supply
Over the past 20 years, the world has witnessed 30 oil spills larger than the Exxon Valdez tragedy. Both the global food chain and the world's waters are being progressively poisoned by all of this oil. In fact, nature can simply not keep up with how fast we are poisoning the water all over the world. This current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not going to help things at all.
The head of the International Energy Agency is warning that this disaster will slow the exploration and development of offshore oil projects worldwide. Now that the danger of offshore drilling has become more apparent, approval of new projects is going to be much more difficult around the world, and oil companies are going to be less inclined to invest in such projects.
Oil prices have already gone up as a result of this oil spill, and they are likely to stay high for the long-term as demand continues to increase while supplies grow less quickly. As noted in point #6, this crisis is going to have a chilling effect on oil exploration, and that is going to mean less oil as we move forward. Less oil and increasing demand means that prices are going to rise, and that is not good news for the U.S. economy.
Two of the major industries in the Gulf region, seafood and tourism, are going to be pretty much wiped out in the short-term. Many areas along the Gulf, particularly in Louisiana, were already economic disaster areas even before this oil spill. The truth is that economic conditions down there are simply not strong enough to weather another major tragedy.
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is essentially 'a slow-motion Katrina' which is going to alter the economy of the Gulf region permanently.
One anonymous Louisiana resident put it this way....
'A hurricane is like closing your bank account for a few days, but this here has the capacity to destroy our bank accounts.'
It is hard to even imagine the despair that those living along the Gulf Coast are feeling right now. Let's pray for them and assist them in any way that we can, and let us hope that they get that darn leak stopped as quickly as possible.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.