Last year, 205 million gallons of oil were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In his info-tastic video Oil'd, Chris Harmon poses a provocative question: What would we have done with the oil if it had never been spilled? His answers are staggering, but also underline human dependency on oil. Sure, we could have done a lot with those 205 million gallons, but maybe we could have done even more -- or less. (via Reddit)Read More
Gulf Oil Spill
So far, it sounds like the cap is working. According to BP, their latest attempt to stop the oil gushing from their offshore rig and into the Gulf of Mexico is currently containing the leak, and that for the first time since April, no oil is escaping the well.
This isn't a permanent fix:Read More
The "Top Kill" effort to plug the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has successfully stopped the flow of oil and gas, a U.S. Coast Guard admiral told the LA Times this morning.
It's not a sure thing yet -- BP's chief operating officer for exploration and production told the New York Times that "it would be a day or more before it was clear whether the top kill had worked," and neither the government nor BP has made an official declaration -- but it sounds encouraging.Read More
As if BP needed any more bad press: The Daily Beast has obtained a jaw-dropping internal memo from the oil giant that effectively prices the lives of its workers using a "Three Little Piggies" analogy. The gist of it is that while it's worth it to build a more wolf-resistant, less vulnerable house for a little piggy up to a point, it ceases to be worth doing when the 'house' gets too expensive.
The document -- which is several old -- gives credence to the claims of BP critics who charge that the company values cost-savings over safety. The lawyer who released the memo claims that BP's Risk Management office at the time valued the lives of its workers at $10 million apiece.
In 2005, 15 workers were killed and 170 people injured when a BP refinery exploded, and the 'blast resistant' language of the document becomes considerably less cutesy when you consider that BP allegedly killed the option of housing workers in blast-resistant buildings which might have saved their lives because they thought the buildings were too expensive. More recently, a $500,000 safety valve, had it been in place, could have prevented the devastation of the Gulf oil spill.Read More
It's a well-documented point of modern psychology that people tend to have a hard time wrapping their heads around very large numbers -- for instance, really knowing what a million means versus a billion -- and the vastness of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill tests our comprehension. What, for instance, does it mean that 2500 square miles of ocean surface are currently covered with oil, or that under the worst case scenario, we'll lose 1.8 million barrels? In short, how much oil are we losing, in terms we can understand? Two people have given us tools to help visualize these vast amounts. Google engineer Paul Rademacher, who started the Google Earth browser plug-in and currently works as a Google Maps engineering manager, has harnessed the power of Google Maps to illustrate how much oil was lost in terms of familiar cities: In the graphic above, you can see the DC metropolitan area, and other overlays include New York, San Francisco, and London. You can check out his map tool here. Information is Beautiful's David McCandless has given us another, after the jump, which further underscores what the oil loss means in terms of the world's oil consumption and our remaining oil reserves. Read More