Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why doing something about oil slicks can be worse than doing nothing

I must admit that this comes as no surprise. I have been increasingly worried by the near hysterical over-reaction, (fed by a combination of activist environmental groups seeking to use any mishap for propaganda purposes and a scientifically ignorant and illiterate media more interested in sensationalism than the truth), to even quite small oil spills.

This isn't to argue that we shouldn't take all reasonable measure to make sure they don't happen in the first place, but rather an appeal to consider nature realistically.

Nature, as I've said on a number of occasions, is not fragile. It is tenacious and resilient. Give it an inch, and it will take a mile. In terms of catastrophes and cataclysms during life's more than three billion year history on this planet, some oil is nothing. Even quite a lot of oil. In a few years the oil disappears, (in part broken down by bacteria) and you would be hard pressed to know there had been an accident in the first place.

Plus, it happens sooner than we imagine.

From Andrew Bolt:

Walter Starck joins me in amazement at the hyped-up claims by politicians and activists that just three or four tonnes of oil from the grounded Chinese Shen Neng 1 may devastate the Great Barrier Reef: 

- Oil floats, coral doesn’t. The damage to reefs from oil spills is minimal and recovery is rapid. Follow-up studies of oil spills have repeatedly found that environmental recovery has invariably been much faster and more complete than predicted with the worst affects being inflicted by clean-up efforts. The use of dispersants, as was done in the current event, is only a PR stunt by government wanting to be seen to be doing something. For the reef, it is the worst thing to do.

- In the First Persian Gulf War in 1991, the largest oil spill ever occurred when 6-8 million tonnes was dumped into an area of shallow water and reefs. With a thousand oil well fires to contend with, no effort was made to do anything about the marine spill. Follow-up studies found that within 4 months most of the oil had been degraded naturally and within 4 years even the most heavily affected areas had largely or completely recovered. This spill was about 10,000 times larger than the total carried by the ship now on the reef.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

No comments: