This IS the Worst-Case Scenario

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | July 9, 2010 6:54 am


via xkcd. Sounds about right.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Marine Science, Media and Science

Comments (10)

  1. Jumblepudding

    Add a nuclear bomb into the mix for a rain of radioactive tar balls over the entire south

  2. Nemesis

    I think flammable clouds are scary.

  3. And then aliens will invade.

  4. John Moore

    The Russians have already use nuclear bombs to stop spills. While not the most popular solution it is an alternative. The bigger question is why we are not consulting/using the resources of countries who have dealt with situations like this before is beyond me.

  5. Ian Tindale

    Fools! Why aren’t people panicking about the possibility of horizontal gene transfer from the dinosaurs that the oil is made out of causing horrendous mutations in genetically modified crops on a scale unprecedented and unsurpassed by the original primordial stew. The very air we breathe will eat us alive, it’s tiny little wavy arms out the front. It’ll be Cretaceous Park all over again.

  6. grung0r

    This month and half old XKCD cartoon sure is spot on.

  7. Sorbet

    I agree. While a nuclear bomb is not the best option, it is still better than allowing a runaway oil spill to swamp every inch of the east coast. I too don’t understand why we are not consulting others who might have dealt with oil spills before.

  8. Nullius in Verba

    “I too don’t understand why we are not consulting others who might have dealt with oil spills before.”

    A nuclear bomb wouldn’t work, because the geology is different under the Gulf to the Russian cases. The method only works in specific circumstances, which American oil engineers understand well, and which don’t apply here.

    Why would you assume that they are not consulting others? Or for that matter, that they don’t themselves employ many of the best and most knowledgeable experts on the subject? The Americans have also “dealt with oil spills before” – you should look up the history of the Ixtoc I blow out, as just one example.

  9. I’m really glad that the XKCD cartoon preceded this:

    Because it perfectly sums up my reaction to the article…


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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