Sunday :: May 16, 2010

Uncontrolled Experiment


by Mary

Although we humans see the effects of the oil gushing in the Gulf of Mexico in the encroaching veil of oil approaching land, the costs to the environment are much greater than we can yet know. Joel Achenbach writes about the mysterious life that inhabits the deep water of the gulf:

There is beauty in the lightless deep as well. Fan corals, lacylike doilies, form gardens on the seafloor and on sunken ships. The deep is full of crabs, sponges, sea anemones. Sharks hunt in the dark depths, as do sperm whales that feed on giant squid. The sperm whales have formed a year-round colony near the mouth of the Mississippi River, and have been known to rub themselves on oil pipes just like grizzlies rubbing against pine trees.

This is the unseen world imperiled by the uncapped oil well a mile below the surface of the gulf. The millions of gallons of crude, and the introduction of chemicals to disperse it, have thrown this underwater ecosystem into chaos, and scientists have no answer to the question of how this unintended and uncontrolled experiment in marine biology and chemistry will ultimately play out.

We must hope that something can be done to stop or greatly slow down this gusher soon, but the damage from the witch's brew created by humans in their lust for oil and the greed of the corporate chieftains that decided cutting corners in order to maximize profit will transform the ecology of the gulf for decades if not longer. Who knows when it will ever recover?

Mary :: 11:02 AM :: Comments (14) :: Digg It!