Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moving Beyond the BP Oil Spill

Beyond BP
Restoring the gulf will take decades. But we can start getting off oil now.
By MICHAEL BRUNE, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

It looks a lot worse out on the water than it does on TV. The Gulf of Mexico is literally a sea of oil, with countless orange-brown waves of sludge washing into its beautiful salt marshes. We passed oil-drenched pelicans and dolphins, with no rescue crews anywhere nearby. It was heartbreaking.

If we can find ways to get from Point A to Point B without financing terrorism and cooking the planet, there's no reason we can't finally move—as BP's 2000 corporate rebranding effort put it—"beyond petroleum."

Here's the good news: When the Exxon Valdez ran aground 21 years ago, we didn't have the wealth of alternatives to oil that are available today. For example, we could save more than 25 percent of the oil that's extracted from the Gulf of Mexico if we used alternate energy sources for home heating and electricity production. We could save more than the total amount of oil produced in the gulf (or all the oil we import from the entire Persian Gulf) by moving freight from highways to railways and repowering commercial vehicles with cleaner fuels.

As individuals, there is much that we can and must do to cut oil consumption, starting with walking, biking, and riding transit whenever possible. The single most effective thing we can do as a country to get off oil, however, is to electrify transportation. The days of tinkering around with tiny increases in fuel economy should be long gone.

The full article is here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

BP Oil Spill: Is 75% of the Oil Really GONE?

An estimated 5 million barrels (~200 million gallons!) of oil gushed out of the Deepwater Horizon well. White House advisor on energy and climate change, Carol Browner, announced that "more than three-quarters of the oil is gone". This estimate was called overly optimistic, to say the least, by experts.

Here is how a pelican on the gulf coast reacted to the initial "good news" from the Administration in Washington about the BP oil spill cleanup:
[click image to enlarge]

But where did all of the unrecovered oil go?

Bill Lehr, a senior scientist in NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration, later testified before the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in Washington that in reality about three-fourths of the oil is "still in the environment" -- dispersed or dissolved at or below the water surface, and evaporated into the air. Read more here.

Scientists funded by the National Science Foundation and affiliated with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have detected a plume of hydrocarbons at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Read more here.

Questions still remain about the possible long-term environmental effects of the oil that remains in the gulf.

We have only One Environment -- the water, air, land -- there is no backup plan. We have got to end our addiction to oil!

British Petroleum claimed originally that its initials stood for "Beyond Petroleum". According to an Editorial in the journal, Science, "Beyond Petroleum" could be the right slogan for the Policy Changes needed to end the U.S. national addiction to oil. That outcome will require a mix of solutions involving the Congress, the American public, businesses, the Administration, and environmental organizations — all driven by passionate conviction about the need for change. Read more here.