Oil Drilling and The Enviroment

The Big Picture
The United States, along with many other countries, relies on oil for our everyday lifes. Americans spend 400,000 dollars every minute for imported oil, that is more than 8 million barrels of oil a day. All this oils has to come from somewhere, It is coming offshore in the ocean. There are major problems with drilling off shore. It cause major environmental damages and destruction to the organisims that live there. Over the years there has been numerous oil spills all around the world. In 2010 alone 5 billion gallons have been lost in the gulf of mexico. The damage from the spill will have damaging affcts on the enviroment for the next several years. Accidents involving oil tankers and offshore plattforms have cause many and sometimes large oil spills.When oil spills occur, plants and animals will be contaminated and some will be unable to survive. Whether they occur in oceans, estuaries, rivers, lakes, ponds, or on land, they can affect algae, plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds, and mammals.Such spills are obvious, visible and dramatic causes of oil pollution in the marine enviroment.With all theses problems with off shore drilling we have to ask the question, is it worth the the risk?
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Location
All over the world oil spills are occuring more frequently than you'd think. Over the last 50 years more then 10 billion barrels of oil has been lost at sea. Eight and a half of that has been in the Gulf of Mexico alone. West African countries such as Nigeria and Angola there is a near epidemic of unaddressed oil spills due to their relaxed regualtion. The Niger River Delta has been drenched with thousands of oil spills, about 2,405 between 2006 and 2010. The U.S on average has 70 oil spills a day. Spills in the size range of at least 34 tons have occured in 112 countries since 1960. Oil spills happen more frequently around the world. these "hot spots" are the Gulf Of Mexico (267 spills), Northeastern U.S. (140 spills), Mediterranean Sea (127 spills) and the Persian Gulf (108 spills).Oils tend to spread rapidly whether spilled on land or water, but the spreading will be enhanced if the spill reaches groundwater, lakes, streams, rivers, and the ocean this increasing the spread of oil.


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Impact
Most biological communties are effected by oil spills. Kelp beds in the ocean; microscopic plants and animals; and larger animals, such as fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds, and mammals, are supuseptable, to contact, smothering, toxicity, and the long-term effects that may result from the physical and chemical properties of the spilled oil. The physical affects of oil contamination is the loss of insulative capability of feathers and fur which can lead to hypothermia, dehydration resulting from lack of uncontaminated water; stomach and internal disorders and destruction of red blood cells from ingestion of oil; and impaired reproduction. Fish that are exposed to oil may suffer from changes in heart and respiratory rate, enlarged livers, reduced growth, and fin erosion.Mammals that may be affected include river otters, beavers, sea otters, polar bears, manatees, seals, sea lions, walrus, whales, porpoises, and dolphins.The amount of damage is most directly related to how important the fur and blubber are to staying warm.Ingestion of oil can result in digestive tract bleeding and in liver and kidney damage. For sea otter the most harmful effect from direct exposure to oil is the fouling of fur, which may lose its ability to insulate. Polar bears may groom oil-contaminated fur; swallowing oil during grooming has killed several bears in Canada. Although oil can stop the germination and growth of marine plants, most vegetation appears to recover after the oil has beenremoved from the area. When an oil spills occurs all parts of the enviroment are effected.
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Solutions

With the need for fossil fuels so high it is hard to see a futrure without them, but the future is looking bright. New technologies are coming forth with new wasys to create energy and protect the wildlife. Such technoloy is a wind turbine.Wind turbines operate like this, The energy in the wind turns two or three propeller-like blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to the main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity. Wind turbines are mounted on a tower to capture the most energy. At 100 feet or more above ground, they can take advantage of faster and less turbulent wind. Wind turbines can be used to produce electricity for a single home or building, or they can be connected to an electricity grid for more widespread electricity distribution. Another great tool that is used it hydropower.Hydropower is using water to make electricity.Since constantly moves through a vast global cycle, The energy from the water cycle can be tapped to produce electricity . Hydropower uses a fuel,water,that is not reduced or used up in the process. Because the water cycle is an endless, constantly recharging system, hydropower is considered a renewable energy.Geothermal energy is the heat from the Earth. It's clean and does no harm the the enviroment. Resources of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles beneath the Earth's surface, Natural gas burns more cleanly than other fuels, such as oil and coal, and produces less carbon dioxide per unit of energy released. For an same amount of heat, burning natural gas produces about 45% less carbon dioxide than burning coal. Combined cycle power generation using natural gas is then the cleanest source of power available using hydrocarbon fuels, and this technology is widely used wherever gas can be obtained at a reasonable cost. With all the benefits of these renewable reasources there is no reason why we should not switch to these sourses of energy. The cause no harm to the enviroment and produce the same amount of energy as oil and other fossil fuels. It is a move we need to take to repair our enviroment.



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Future Outlook
The destruction oil spills have on our enviroment is unbelievable. It causes the death of countless animals and wildlife, The effects of oil spills can lingar for years. Each year the U.S spends millions of dollars in oil spill clean up related incedents. These are problems we can fix. It will not happen over night, but in time we can learn to harness the power of nature and use it to create clean and hermless energy. Renewable energys like hydroelectric power and wind turbines cause little to no damage to the enviroment at all. Natural gas is just sitting in the earth waiting for us to come and get it. It is one of the cleanest energies we can use. It produces less carbon dioxide per unit of energy released, about 45% less than any fossil fuel. The is an astonishing statistic. With so many other ways to obtain energy there is no reason to keep using fossil fuels.The future is looking bright for using clean energy and keeping the enviroment clean. That is an outlook we can all live with.
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Faucon, B. (2011, January 19). Oil hearing to cast spotlight on west africa.

Perry, M. (2009, December 17). Prosperity lies in huge oil and gas deposits.