Tag: oil spill

The Oil Spill's Smallest Survivors Released into Atlantic

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | July 14, 2010 9:56 am

large_24630The first sea turtle eggs rescued from the Gulf have hatched! From the Associated Press:

About 700 sea turtle nests — each containing about 100 eggs — are being trucked from oiled shores along the Gulf to Cape Canaveral, where they’re kept at a climate-controlled facility. The turtles are being released into the Atlantic as they hatch.

Scientists feared that a generation of the imperiled species would die if they hatched and swam into the oil.

One small step toward restoration. One giant leap for the oil spill’s tiniest refugees. They face a tough road ahead.

Godspeed and good luck little dudes!

(Photo: The Ocean Conservancy)
CATEGORIZED UNDER: Conservation, Marine Science

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

Pimm on the Oil Spill Wildlife Crisis

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | July 2, 2010 11:14 am

Stuart PimmJust because I am no longer at Duke, doesn’t mean I don’t keep tabs on Stuart Pimm and the rest of the family. Recently Stuart spoke to the Endangered Species Coalition about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico describing how it’s been so devastating to wildlife, why scientists cannot predict the long-term ecological damage, and the scale of restoration that will be required.

This is a sad, but very important podcast and I encourage readers to listen here. You can also read more from Stuart on biodiversity at his terrific National Geographic blog.

The Florida Panhandle

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 23, 2010 1:03 pm

As the 2006 Sea Grant Fellow for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), I spent much of the year working hard to keep oil drilling away from the state’s coast. I am completely devastated to see photos of the Panhandle taken this morning by The Ocean Conservany.


The full set is here, but be warned, these images are hard to see…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Conservation, Marine Science

The Red Carpet Treatment for the Gulf Oil Spill

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 18, 2010 10:00 am

This is a guest post from Melissa Lott, a dual-degree graduate student in Mechanical Engineering and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work includes a unique pairing of engineering and public policy in the field of energy systems research. Melissa has worked for YarCom Inc. as an engineer and consultant in energy systems and systems design. She has previously worked for the Department of Energy and the White House Council on Environmental Quality for the Obama Administration. She is a graduate of the University of California at Davis, receiving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biological Systems Engineering. Melissa is also the author of the blog Global Energy Matters: Energy and Environment in Our Lives.

It has been almost two months since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank to the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, a continuous stream of oil has contaminated our ocean and coastline, resulting in the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Efforts have been made to stop the flow of oil, but the solutions with the highest likelihood of success are still months from possible execution. This has left us with the troubling question of what we can do to minimize the negative environmental impacts of this oil. In particular, how do we clean up the massive quantities of oil already in the water? As it turns out, the answer to this might be found in Hollywood. Read More


Oil In The Water

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 10, 2010 12:01 pm

Picture 3

Click on the map to watch CNN’s time-lapse video

Now go read Nicholas Kristof’s related Op-Ed in the NYTimes:

The national campaign to get President Obama to emote, throw crockery at oil executives and jump up and down in fury has failed. But here’s a long-term solution: Let’s anoint a king and queen.


[It] would give President Obama time to devise actual clean-up policies. He might then also be able to concentrate on eliminating absurd government policies that make these disasters more likely (such as the $75 million cap on economic damages when an oil rig is responsible for a spill).

Our president is stuck with too many ceremonial duties as head of state, such as greeting ambassadors and holding tedious state dinners, that divert attention from solving problems. You can preside over America or you can address its problems, but it’s difficult to find time to do both.


* Update: You can now vote for king and queen of America at Vanity Fair. *


The Nuclear Option?!

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 2, 2010 9:19 pm

On the road somewhere in Tennessee tonight, I read the present top story at the NYTimes:

Nuclear Option on Gulf Oil Spill? No Way, U.S. Says

The chatter began weeks ago as armchair engineers brainstormed for ways to stop the torrent of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico: What about nuking the well?

Decades ago, the Soviet Union reportedly used nuclear blasts to successfully seal off runaway gas wells, inserting a bomb deep underground and letting its fiery heat melt the surrounding rock to shut off the flow. Why not try it here?

Of course this won’t happen, but the idea isn’t actually all that far fetched. Furthermore, does anyone have a better suggestion? Now go read the article and let’s get an interesting discussion going in comments…

The Oil Spill Belongs To All of Us

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 1, 2010 10:24 am

Well, I’m back. Over the past month, the devastating BP spill that began April 20th has become catastrophic in scale. And that’s an understatement.

Picture 2When I checked on my inbox early May, it was overflowing with questions from our readers about oil’s impact on the marine realm, its potential to spread, and the long-term possibilities across sectors. Foremost, I want to thank Wallace J. Nichols and Philip Hoffman for posting in my absence when I asked them to provide details. Chris has also done a good job covering the reasons we should all be concerned about the 2010 hurricane forecast.

In short, the BP oil spill is as bad as it gets. It’s an unprecedented social, environmental, and economic disaster in the US. And it’s not over. The public seems to have expected that scientists and engineers would have a quick fix immediately–not surprising given that on television, problems take less than an hour to solve (with commercials). Now any fix will do, but no one’s sure what we’re dealing with 5000 feet below sea level. I haven’t kept up with all of the coverage while overseas, though I’m sure much of what I’d say about the tragedy itself would be repetitious. Instead, I will add this…

No matter what took place and why it happened, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico belongs to all of us. Now it is our collective responsibility to make sure we establish the policies that will prevent it from happening ever again It’s related to oceans, economics, security, and climate change. But most of all, this is all about energy. And the truth is, regardless of the renewable options that are coming down the pipeline, we’re not there yet. Earth will continue to be a primarily fossil-fuel based planet for decades to come. So if we want better related institutions, it’s our choice to enact them.

Over the next three days, I’ll be on the road driving from NY to Austin, Texas. Once I arrive, I’ll share the details of my new job working on energy solutions for the 21st century.

MORE ABOUT: Austin, BP, Energy, oil, oil spill, Texas

Of Hurricanes and Oil

By Chris Mooney | May 20, 2010 7:40 am

The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1, and forecasts suggest an above average year. And as we all know, Atlantic hurricanes are deadliest when they get into the warm Gulf of Mexico. It is almost like a hurricane jumping on a trampoline. They can go from Category 1 to Category 5 in 24 hours in such a favorable environment.

But this year, as we also know, there is something different about the Gulf. It is full of oil.

What are the implications of this fact for hurricanes? And conversely, what might a powerful hurricane do to the oil spill if it were to run across it?

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about, and I don’t have definitive answers yet. I’d like to do more research and interview some experts–but for now, let’s take a rough and dirty approach to the issue, based on what is already out there.

And let’s tackle the first question first: What would an oil slick do to a hurricane? According to storm ace Jeff Masters, the answer is not very much.

Here’s what Masters is thinking. It’s certainly true that oil on the surface of the ocean could inhibit a hurricane’s access to its fuel source–the warm seawater whose evaporation drives the hurricane heat engine. However, hurricanes are vastly larger than the oil slick, which limits the potential effect of this phenomenon. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Hurricanes
MORE ABOUT: Hurricanes, oil spill

Can Offering Prizes for Innovative Solutions Save the Gulf?

By Chris Mooney | May 13, 2010 8:08 am

This is a guest post by Darlene Cavalier, a writer and senior adviser at Discover Magazine. Darlene holds a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader. She founded ScienceCheerleader.com and cofounded ScienceForCitizens.net to make it possible for lay people to contribute to science.

Prizes: This old idea is making a sweeping comeback and it is changing the way government, industry and foundations help revolutionize future discovery. It’s high time we offer prizes to motivate and galvanize the public to come up with creative, real-time solutions to major disasters, such as the BP oil spill.

Approximately one-and-a-half weeks ago, I received an email from Andrew Revkin (who writes the DotEarth blog at The New York Times) in which he challenged researchers and others to think creatively about substantive approaches to stanching the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“There’s a lot of talk about sweeping Grand Engineering Challenges this year. But one is unfolding in real-time in the Gulf. Waiting months for a relief well seems pretty in the box,” he wrote in the email (reprinted with Revkin’s permission), and reiterated in this blog post.

While it’s true that BP is accepting public suggestions about ideas to mitigate the oil spill, the process needs some tweaking. From the Deepwater Horizon Response website: “Once a formal suggestion has been filed, BP technical personnel will carefully evaluate each and every one for technical feasibility and proof of application. If the engineering group finds the suggestion feasible, the person submitting the suggestion will be contacted if and when their support is needed.”

BP technical personnel will evaluate the suggestions? Seems a little too cozy to me. Read More


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