Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oil Re-cap

Now that the well is capped and most the oil appears to have evaporated, news of the BP spill likewise is evaporating, or at least being being diluted by a steady stream of new news.

While the BP spill assuredly created some problems, perhaps justifying penalties against BP in the billions of dollars, the media has done a poor job of explaining exactly how profoundly inconsequential the spill was in the larger environmental picture. According to a Washington Post article, the oil spilled was enough to contaminate the water of the Gulf by about one part oil to 880 million parts water, or about one part per billion. To put this in perspective, the EPA considers water with less than 15 parts lead per billion parts water to be reasonably safe to drink. And unlike lead, oil does not hang around forever. Microbes break the oil down and plants drink it. Many fertilizers are petroleum-based (the same kinds of fertilizers that are used to make car bombs).

America's favorite news source yesterday did an excellent job of reframing the oil spill issue on solid ground.


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