Just how bad is the BP oil spill?

Sometimes it helps if we can visualize how bad a problem is. It’s difficult to get a sense of the scale of the BP oil spill from reading news reports. Sure, we know it’s hit the coastlines of several states and is encroaching on Florida beaches, but unless you live there it’s really hard to grasp what that means. That’s where IfItWasMyHome.com – Visualizing the BP Oil Disaster comes in handy.

Here, for example, is what the spill would look like had it happened where I live in Ann Arbor, MI:

Pic of BP oil spill super imposed over Ann Arbor, MI

Click to embiggen.

Oh yeah, that drives it home.

Now, in fairness, it would obviously not be quite as widespread as it shows up here due to the fact that Michigan isn’t underwater and as such the dynamics of the spread would be completely different, but in terms of visualizing just how big this fucking thing is, well, it works pretty well. That’s a shit load of oil and anyone who tries to claim that it’s not an environmental disaster — something several Republicans have tried to do — needs his or her fucking head examined.

The truly sad part is that this is going to fuck up those coastlines for decades to come. Proof of that can be found in Prince William Sound. Over 20 years after the Exxon Valdez spill things look like they’re back to normal, until you dig just inches into the soil:

Twenty years after the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, oil persists in the region and, in some places, “is nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill,” according to the council overseeing restoration efforts.

“This Exxon Valdez oil is decreasing at a rate of 0-4 percent per year,” the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council stated in a report marking Tuesday’s 20th anniversary of the worst oil spill in U.S. waters. “At this rate, the remaining oil will take decades and possibly centuries to disappear entirely.”

The council’s findings come two decades after the March 24, 1989 disaster, when the single-hulled Exxon tanker hit a reef, emptying its contents into Alaskan waters. The spill contaminated more than 1,200 miles of shoreline and killed hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine animals.

That article is from March of last year. The spill was “only” 11 million gallons. As of this writing, the BP disaster is already estimated to be at least double that amount and it’s still flowing. It will surely go down in history as one of the worst man-made environmental disasters of all time. Just look at that map up there. Or, better yet, go to the site and put in your home town and see for yourself.

If this isn’t a good argument for increasing the funding of research and development of renewable energy sources by several fold then I don’t know what is. Need another visual aid to help? Try this one:

10 thoughts on “Just how bad is the BP oil spill?

  1. This really brings the scale home. It’s scary how big it is. The amount of damage is unimaginable. Hopefully this will at least make alternative energy sources seem more viable.

  2. Given that you’re likely figuratively preaching to the proverbial choir, thanks for not including the animal pictures released today. They make my heart hurt because I can, quite literally, do absolutely nothing immediate to fix them.

  3. Moloch…. you can be so…… sometimes. By that logic, 9/11 wasn’t “very bad” after all… “only” 3,000 people died. That doesn’t rate very high when compared to.. say your average incident of genocide around the world, but that doesn’t really matter very much.

    On the other hand, it’s not FAR LESS than the top 5 spills, and if they can’t stop the Deepwater spill soon, it WILL be the worst. It’s already the worst US oil disaster.

  4. Will, you’ll have to excuse Moloch. He’s the resident pot-stirrer and bigot. He seems to not like people in general and minorities in particular. Plus he’s against anything that requires change such as combating global warming or weening off of fossil fuels. He’s kind of like that crazy homeless guy who’s always saying impolitic things that everyone tolerates because, well, he’s a crazy homeless guy.

    That said, I will give him credit for being respectful enough to what few “rules” I have that I haven’t been moved to ban him and he’s been here for years. In a way he’s useful to have around to remind me that not all atheists are of like mind on all issues. He also tests my tolerance for speech I seriously don’t agree with.

  5. By that logic, 9/11 wasn’t “very bad” after all… “only” 3,000 people died.

    Right, 10x that many have died in Iraq since 2003. Was it okay for one man to send that many people to their deaths for nothing to take revenge on 1 guy that hasn’t been found after 10 years?

    anything that requires change such as combating global warming

    No such thing. Thats why the name was changed to “climate change”, to get around the whole “disproved by science” thing.

    weening off of fossil fuels.

    Impossible without killing off 2/3 of the world’s population.

    If you were to actually look at the whole picture, what you are looking at is a large surface area that is greatly exaggerated due to the shallow depth as its floating on the surface. The actual volume of the spill is minuscule compared to what we consume per day as a nation, 1/100th the gallons. In fact its likely that more oil has been consumed by people surrounding the event (news, coast guard, BP repairs, etc) than has been leaked from the well!

  6. A lot of speculation on the spill, and rather than fart around they need to get down to business. This spill is estimated to be leaking over 2 Million gallons per day. It is hard to pin that figure down because the pressure is not consistent. No one wants to make it worse by trying to fix it. Because no fix is guaranteed.

    After a lengthy discussion with several people I do favor blowing it up. Send an extreme amount of explosives perhaps even very large multiple bombs into the open pipe. Send them as deep into the well as possible. The Earth collapsing from the explosion, even 500 to 1000 ft of collapsed earth should seal the hole. It will seal itself

    But if this fails to work, and the leak continues. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack for the source.

    They are going to drill another hole to relieve the pressure, and that should be completed by the end of summer. So even if does continue to leak it will stop eventually.

    This is a catastrophic event, and it requires a catastrophic fix.

  7. Moloch

    No such thing. Thats why the name was changed to “climate change”, to get around the whole “disproved by science” thing.

    Don’t tell me you’re a climate change denier? Terrible.


    Should sort that out…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>