Whats the Big Deal With the Gulf Oil Spill?

Whats the Big Deal With the Gulf Oil Spill?

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  1. Unless you live along the southern coast or have an interest in ecology, you might be wondering why people are so upset over the oil spill. I mean, there’s tons of crap in the ocean. What makes crude oil so terrible? Let’s take a look.

    The Gulf of Mexico

    The Gulf of Mexico may be a small pocket of ocean water trapped by US and Mexico, but it is the 9th largest body of water in the world. It’s also the starting point of the Gulf Stream, an important current that flows throughout the Atlantic Ocean.

    In addition, the Gulf is home to a variety of ecosystems, including fisheries that employ people throughout the region. Our economy, and the economies of Mexico and islands like Cuba, depend on the animals living there. Those animals feed on smaller creatures and plant life in the Gulf.

    By endangering the lives of the smallest of creatures in the Gulf, the BP oil spill endangers every life depending on the Gulf. By polluting the waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the BP oil spill will pollute all the waters of the Atlantic and beyond.

    How the Oil Hurts

    Oil isn’t "just more crap" like candy wrappers or even raw sewage. Oil and water don’t mix. Oil creates a thick film over the water, over the land surrounding the water and the animals living in the water. Not only does this endanger sea-dwelling birds and fish, but the smaller organisms that wind up feeding them. As the oil covers mud swaths, sufficating the microscopic inhabitants of the Gulf, the bottom of the region’s food chain drops out.

    Beach-goers have seem the grime by way of black, tar-covered sands and balls of pollutants washing inland. They can see the oil gleaming in the waves, and the dead sea life washing up on shore.

    Dispersants

    Now the EPA is claiming another danger from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company, hoping to save money, has dumped over a million gallons of dispersant into the water. While this will break down the oil, it’s not without cost. Oil particles and toxic dispersants drift to the coast and settle on the bottom of the ocean floor. It is yet unclear how such a large amount of dispersant will affect the area, now or in years to come.

    Filtering the Water

    Right now, the safest bet for cleaning the water is "A Whale" – a huge ship fit with filters intended to clean the water. It’s 10 stories high. It’s 3 1/2 American football fields in length. It’s outfitted with 12 inlets for ocean water and huge bays for storing both oil and water that’s been filtered. It can’t take all 800 million gallons (and counting) out of the Gulf water, but it can help prevent massive amounts of destruction.

    The simple answer to, "What’s the big deal?" is that we’re all connected, and what hurts the ocean eventually hurts us, too. This time, we can see the connections more clearly and they are much closer to home. The delta – the mouth – of the Mississippi opens into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s where we vacation, where we work and play and has the chance to impact our economy, our prices and our health. That is why demanding that BP take care of this spill quickly and effeciently should be on the mind of every US citizen.

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