July 28th, 2010

Gaia and the oil spill

It seems the earth’s waters have a powerful capacity to repair themselves:

Scientists said the rapid dissipation of the [Gulf spill] surface oil was probably due to a combination of factors. The gulf has an immense natural capacity to break down oil, which leaks into it at a steady rate from thousands of natural seeps. Though none of the seeps is anywhere near the size of the Deepwater Horizon leak, they do mean that the gulf is swarming with bacteria that can eat oil.

So even the Times admits that oil in the Gulf is an ongoing and naturally-generated problem, and that the body of water seems to contain naturally-occurring ways of dealing with it.

37 Responses to “Gaia and the oil spill”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    there is a second spill
    a boat dragged its anchor over it
    nice black fountain
    would make Jed Clampette happy…

  2. SteddieH Says:

    That story doesn’t generate the outrage and furor politicians need to dig further into our pockets and legislate arbitrary action.

  3. Bob from Virginia Says:

    SteddieH not so loud.

  4. Mr. Frank Says:

    All that talk about the greatest environmental disaster in our history was a bit much. I’d put the dust bowl way above this spill for its effect on people. It’s quite likely that a number of droughts rank above the spill for hardships created.

    The media’s desire to beat up on big oil was the agenda. Instead they should be looking at the hardship being caused by Obama’s moratorium on drilling and foot dragging on shallow water drilling permits. Tens of thousands will be losing their jobs. It’s a good thing they don’t count because they are conservative and non union.

  5. Scott Says:

    I heard an analyst on CNBC say a couple of weeks ago that because it’s so hot in the gulf this time of year, he estimated 50% of the total oil released in the gulf would simply evaporate. I had no idea the evaporation rate could be so high. But he was represented as an expert so I assume there must be some kernel of truth about what he says.

    I don’t remember him even mentioning the oil eating bacteria.

    Hopefully, this isn’t going to turn out to be the huge disaster we all thought it would be.

  6. Adrian Day Says:

    Rush Limbaugh apparently said this would happen back on May 3rd. Bet the NY Times didn’t mention that.

  7. SteveH Says:

    We simply never get a realistic perspective on anything media reports. My best guess is anywhere from ten thousand to twenty million barrels leaked. Which obviously makes me an expert ready to be interviewed by all in the media.

  8. Scottie Says:

    Many decades ago, during a forgotten mythical time many of us grew up hearing referred to as WWII, there was a huge sea battle in the Pacific ocean at Truk Lagoon, a place physically much smaller than the Gulf.

    The ships sunk in that battle had a lot of fuel and oil – not to mention lots of nasty explosive materials – on board when they sank.

    You can see at the link below the absolute devastation that lagoon suffered and how it’s just never been able to recover….so sad really. It’s just a barren underwater wasteland.

    http://underwatercolours.smugmug.com/gallery/5013733_Jzm4k#301652834_8VqsG

    OK, ok, so I am being sarcastic….. :D

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    Adrian Day: Although Rush and others predicted it, the Times says the dissipation occurred “far more rapidly than anyone expected.”

  10. Mark Says:

    Ahhhh, nature. Like anything else, the Liberals treat it like it can’t be trusted to do the right job and only they have the ability to accomplish miracles.

  11. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Oil-eating bacteria! What are we going to do when huge, Deepwater-fattened colonies of bacteria suddenly have nothing to eat? Will they come after us? Will they emit CO2? Can anything be done to stop it?

  12. Scottie Says:

    I need to submit the paperwork for a government grant to study the effects of all this bacteria eating the oil.

    I’m sure that gazillions of the little boogers eating all that oil will result in massive quantities of flatulence on the microscopic level, leading to global warming since methane is supposed to be a global warming type gas, ya know?

    Just think of it, the entire ocean looking like a giant glass of champagne as they all break wind at once!

    Such a study can keep a guy busy for decades!

  13. Perfected democrat Says:

    That’s the good news, the bad news is the oil that reached the beaches and marshes, and the immediate catastrophic damage to the wildlife (including humans) which ensued because of the failure of the Obama administration to respond in a timely manner to the affected state governor’s requests for help, big etc. After their complaints about the federal response to Katrina, the Democrats have ensconced their name in the Hypocrites Hall of Fame for all time…

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “the bad news is the oil that reached the beaches and marshes, and the immediate catastrophic damage to the wildlife (including humans) which ensued because of the failure of the Obama administration”

    It’s only a failure if you posit that they wanted to respond effectively. They didn’t. The ‘delay’ and ongoing obstructions that actually prevented a timely response were and still are entirely intentional.

    And it’s just a coincidence that BP stands to gain more from cap & trade than any other oil company.

    So while temporarily they take a hit, in the long run, how amazingly lucky for them…

  15. Occam's Beard Says:

    Will they emit CO2?

    Oh yes. What do you think they metabolize hydrocarbons to? Aerobic metabolism = slow combustion.

    Can anything be done to stop it?

    Well, we’ll need a new Federal agency, a couple of czars, and $10-20 bn for miscellaneous expenses, you know, shipping and handling and restocking costs. For starters.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    Well, we can be happy he didn’t respond timely.

    why?

    because using a nuclear bomb to close it would have been pragmatically expedient…

    meanwhile, explain how you can move a part of the earth from one place to another place and sometimes its landscaping, sometimes its pollution…

    want to know where the most lucrative mines will be in 50 years? the garbage dumps of the last century. considering how much iron, aluminum, tungsten, gold, copper, tin, carbon, silica, and other things are there, garbage dumps are really just very large recycling centers waiting for the technology to catch up (now being delayed by lack of capitalism)

    nuclear waste a problem? shoot it to the sun. so again, its just waiting for the technology it enabled to catch up to it… (then maybe we can start using thorium reactors?) and perhaps start making the crappy stuff in space… (now being delayed due to a lack of capitalism).

    we have planets to play with and the left tells us we are running out of resources. however, they are trying to make a one world. if they let another america form on another planet too far away for them to contain, what kind of history will repeat? now you need solarsystemism?

    there are really a lot of things we can do that are a lot more feasible… and less impatient… but we will never get to them since rational minds do not prevail in winning an argument with the incohesive and irrational (not to mention contradictory)

    given that oil is not only made from dead things, but also is made deeper in the earth by cooking volcanic gasses (Adiabetic), we have a much larger supply than we can use.

    now that someone at harvard has proven the greenhouse effect is not there, and the whole thing is a lysenkoist type farce, the laws being made are more harmful than the nothing that isnt there.

    the small planet effect doesnt really give us an idea of how large what we are on really is like.

    and since matter cant be destroyed, you cant use up raw materials in that sense. you can only use up one financially favorable material for another material. thats it…. run out of oil, and we mine methane and use nuclear power to make oil (but that would require really cheap ubiquitous power and use – with space disposal).

    i should write out a whole futurist book that would lay out the things we can do already, but just arent cheap yet. (and wont be if we keep socialism).

    capitalists never left people behind because they made money. quite the opposite. literally trillions over the past 200 years has gone from our pockets out to the world, with restrictions mostly on countries that would misuse the rewards to attack the giver.

    want lebensraum? settle mars.. build space stations..
    colonize the dark side of the moon. (leave the front alone, everyone likes it around the world).

    want lots of interesting new life forms? send stuff to mars and let nature take its course.

    send some extremeophiles, some radiodurans…

    think you can affect the atmosphere? go do something to mars so we can walk on it and life can easily teem there.

    preserving mars for eternity is a farce.
    so is doing so for the earth

    technically if we dont do what i just said, mans ability to stick around will be limited by natures ability to pound us out in a day. so having eggs in other baskets is actually a better idea than limiting the species (which decreases its future).

    landmasses will get subducted, new volcanos will form. the sun will vary. life will adapt…

    creating a Confucian reality where we stagnate to be able to handle the world, wont work. i didn’t work for Confucians, it wont work for us.

    the reason is that we cant hold back reality

    letting the throwbacks on a superiority kick because their bullies win the prize is not going to bring man to a fuller life in the universe. quite the opposite actually, 180 degrees opposite.

    genetic changes actually happen in a very short time, especially when selective pressures change drastically (like our recent redistributive regressive process).

    if we understood what we used to, we would forbid the taking of large fish, not small ones (and maybe periods of random take)…

    if we understood the synoptic view taking in all time frames at once, which is how it is. pollution as a concept is a joke. it only exists in certain short time frames. this bottle will be here for 100 years… what if its here for 3000 years? its just some parts of earth moved from one place on earth, to another place on earth that will eventually be subducted and melted down anyway.

    on the planets time scale, we are fleas in a fold of its circulating skin… nuclear bombs? nothings.

    as i have been explaining, how we feel about ourselves, sitting like Buddhas looking into ourselves to find the infinity in front of us and outside.

    we live in a full time frame world, we think and believe we live in a tiny perceptive time frame.

    things too fast we cant see…
    things too slow, we cant see either.

    we know them because technology simply extends us. it doesnt even give us much that we dont have otherwise. it just extends.

    we can walk, drive, fly, boat… but all are transportation, and we have that without technology.

    we can see far, but telescopes let us see farther.
    we can see three colors, birds can see four, and with a camera and conversion we can see spectrums nothing else can.

    microscopes let us see smaller.
    cameras and film transport us out of our time frame into another one. we can see a bullet go through an apple, see things rotting. though we still dont have tools to see beyond our lifetimes rate other than through indirect examination. (other than cathedrals and progressives nothing we do lasts long enough without interruption for us to see the slower rates)

    most of us dont have any view of the world that really represents it!!! and marxists not only dont have a understanding of the world, but tend to be throwbacks from the 1820s in the modern world, as their ideas cant change from then.

    in fact, they claim one cant have such an understanding… (its just an excuse to deny merit is better than chaos and spin).

    the failure to see that despots and totalitarians are not warriors. they are clerks and administrators, who are so full of themselves and the glories of administration and its methods that they can replace god and administrate the world.

    sociopathic neurotic megalomaniacal monomaniacal file clerks… :)

  17. rickl Says:

    Great comment, Art.

  18. anna Says:

    Artfl, you read my mind!!! yes indeed we will be mining landfills, probably sooner than we think, the way China is gobbling up mineral resources.

    The laws of physics dictate that nature wins 100% of the time. The earth can handle anything you throw at it, because everything we can throw comes from the earth. You could stuff the ocean full of dirty disposable diapers and the earth would eventually decompose them into organic compounds (in a chemistry sense, not a gardening sense). It might be unpleasant to live on the coast for a while but oh well. Nature always finds an equilibrium, although we humans may disagree with its conclusions.

    When we talk about “pollution” we are really talking about it in a human sense, as in disrupting what we want to do with the earth. Take lake eutrophication, eventually all lakes will become eutrophic and fill with sediment, and when we talk about it in terms of it being a bad thing, we are really just talking about the speeding up of a process that is already happening but much slower.

    Granted, pollution is bad for several reasons but it is not the end of the world. In fact, I believe that we don’t even need much of the environmental legislation that we have. Most of it can be taken care of within the existing framework of English common law property rights, which essentially say that you can do anything with your property which does not cause nuisance conditions to your neighbor. “nuisance conditions” is the squish word that is frequently reinterpreted by the courts.

  19. Occam's Beard Says:

    At one point in geological history, oxygen was a pollutant.

  20. Artfldgr Says:

    thanks guys

    I believe that we don’t even need much of the environmental legislation that we have.

    well, ask farmers what they do when they find an endangered species and the enviros dont know its there? do they A) eradicate it fast B) call the tree huggers and then have land they own, pay taxes on, cant sell, nor do anything with C) there aint no C

    so basically the thing is a hit list

    rather than protect them it gets them exterminated faster. especially if they are not one of the cute cuddly postage stamp genetic celebrities of the animal world.

    I can bet there are quite a few people in the southwest who are contemplating doing an upstream dump of the same stuff they use to try to get rid of the invasive chinese fish. no more endangered species, no reason to keep the water off, and so no reason to dust bowl the sw.

    i wish administrators didnt think they were engineers

  21. anna Says:

    Artfl, yes and to that I would add that endangered species laws are an extension of the eminent domain mess we are in. In order for the government to remove some of the value of your land, it has to be for the public benefit and you should receive just compensation. The only reason that enviros can restrict land use for endangered species is that the courts have “declared” that the existence of endangered species is in the public benefit so therefore the government has a right to remove some of the value of your land.

    In the early days of enviro legislation, the govt was prosecuted for “taking claims”, basically people saying that they deserved just compensation for the value of their land due to not being able to use it. Well the govt wised up and now leaves a few permissible activities allowed, so that it can’t be prosecuted for taking peoples’ land without compensation.

    I work as a civil engineer in a state with some of the most draconian enviro laws in the world and a long time ago I had gone to a seminar intended to educate engineers about the new laws taking effect that would protect frogs and salamanders. As the reality of the strict new laws sunk in, one of the engineers was bold enough to suggest that they would stop development entirely. Well one of the enviros rather snarkily replied no, but that would be a beneficial side effect of it. So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. I never looked at enviros the same way again. It was a very educational seminar.

  22. Occam's Beard Says:

    For my part, I have no problem with giving an endangered species a nudge when it’s standing at the edge of the abyss, frantically waving its arms to avoid going in, as long as we aren’t responsible for pushing it to the edge in the first place.

    Species die out all the time. Any species that’s reduced to a few members through natural processes is on the way out in any case. So it goes.

  23. Steve Says:

    Occam’s Beard: You have a good handle on the process of natural selection. It would be a shame to lose wonderful creatures like the condor though.

  24. SteveH Says:

    Just think about the species being held back from making their own grand entrance on the scene because libs are holding the world hostage to status quo creatures.

  25. Artfldgr Says:

    The more species go in times of turmoil and change, the more niches are left for the remaining species to reorganize and spread into. after each great period of horrible extinction was a new period of intense growth with all manner of even more interesting creatures.

  26. John Hardin Says:

    nuclear waste a problem? shoot it to the sun.

    No! Don’t destroy potentially valuable raw materials in that way! Yucca Mountain is the right response, bury it for a few thousand years until it’s no longer dangerously radioactive – or until we find a way to utilize it productively.

  27. Monkey King Says:

    Mr. Hardin…like a pebble bed nuclear reactor?

  28. Ilíon Says:

    still hyperventilating

  29. Jamie Says:

    This is my whole argument about “climate change”! Why is THIS climate (and where, by the way?), which is NOT the one in which humans took whatever Great Leap Forward it was that segregated us from our primate cousins, which is NOT the one that spurred the change from hunting-gathering to agriculture, which is NOT the one that accompanied the Renaissance, oh and which IS the one that caused ’60s pessimists to declare that humanity was at its very limits and we were up against a Malthusian event so dramatic that we’d soon be salting and peppering our babies, be so darn ideal? And, not coincidentally, are we toddlers, that we think our actions are THE most powerful influences on the planet?

    Geologic time is not the friend of progressives. It is, however, the friend of humanity, as long as we understand that we’re subject to it too.

    John Hardin, agreed, about not shooting off nuclear waste into the sun: our system isn’t totally closed, but it’s darn close; we’re better off maintaining its fluid equilibrium, even if we don’t comprehend it, being as how we’re ignorant of SO MUCH.

  30. Artfldgr Says:

    Don’t destroy potentially valuable raw materials in that way!

    so what your saying is you have a good use for plutonium? and that we should do what with nuclear contaminated jumpsuits? how about sneakers?

    your thinking pellets, and i am thinking inundated containment material crumbling and not good for much.

    hows the radioactive I beams from china and the radioactive kitchen utensils?
    you can go here and you can see that its a bigger problem than saving some small amount of material we dont need.

    http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/source-reduction-management/scrapmetal.html

    here is the problem in a nutshell. iron is a few dollars a ton, processing the material to remove radioactive materials makes it the most expensive iron in the world. on the other side of the equation, the material you get out of it, has no commercial value.

    AND there is one more problem. after you have removed any of the nuclear materials your familiar with, then your going to ahve to figure out how to remove radioactive iron from non radioactive iron.

    Naturally occurring iron (Fe) consists of four isotopes: 5.845% of radioactive 54Fe (half-life: >3.1×1022 years), 91.754% of stable 56Fe, 2.119% of stable 57Fe and 0.282% of stable 58Fe. 60Fe is an extinct radionuclide of long half-life (2.6 million years).

    about the only way to do that is to use the same equipment you use to separate uranium isotopes to make nuclear bombs.

    so here is the bigger problem when you work out the issue.

    what your really suggesting without knowing whats behind it all, is that we turn iron into a gas, and then while its a gas we use nuclear centrifuges by the hundreds, and draw out the nuclear radioactive isotopes.

    after spending 20 million dollars we have 100 dollars of clean iron, hundreds of nuclear bomb making centrifuges, and a few lbs of material to stockpile for a few years till it naturall is ok.

    better to pile up the iron for 10 years. no?

    but now you have a problem of cost of space. is it really economical to bury them in the desert till they are ok…

    and here in a nutshell is the problem…

    Marxists dont want anyone to understand even rudimentary economics, so we dont. so when we imagine some fix, we only imagine the problem, the solution, and completely ignore everything in between as some problem to work out that is trivial.

    while this may be true if you get all the hooks and key nodal issues done, its certainly not true in the general, as administrators and such see it.

    its so easy to say
    “lets put a few men on the moon”

    As that sentence expands out to having to create one of the most complicated transportation vessels ever created in the known universe. thousands of people, billions of dollars……

    and the leftist wants the credit for the whole thing because they said 8 words. :)

    on to the next point…

  31. Artfldgr Says:

    John Hardin, agreed, about not shooting off nuclear waste into the sun: our system isn’t totally closed, but it’s darn close; we’re better off maintaining its fluid equilibrium, even if we don’t comprehend it, being as how we’re ignorant of SO MUCH.

    let me expand your knowlege of our reality…
    [if you want it in a more entertaining way, listen to Micheal palin sing it]

    you sir (and myself) were born in supernovas. we live on a planet whose surface (meaning us) rotates at about 1000 miles per hour. [depending on where you are on the earth, you may be moving a different speed]

    this huge (not small) ball is large enough that gravity maintains the average temperature of the compressed gas held to its surface. at the same pressure on Venus, the same temperatures prevail. weather is just turbulence caused by a bumpy surface, injections of water into the atmosphere, and uneven heating.

    there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect. point a solar oven at the sky at night and see how much radiation comes back. heat flows from warm to cold, and not the other way. the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics (Which technically is a special law often misapplied)

    ok, back to the system…

    the planet is also orbiting the sun, and is moving 67,000 miles per hour around the sun. (so depending on where you are on the globe in relation to that, you can be moving faster or slower than that)

    now the sun is moving too…. so when you say we are in a closed system, your not realizing this “closed system” isnt closed.

    our sun, like our planet, orbits a galactic center that is near 30,000 light years away.

    and so its also moving. about 486,000 miles per hour.

    now if we take a large shipment of heavy metals, and we sent it to the sun. we would probably sent it to the poles. way before the ship got to the surface, its material would be melted ionized and turned to gas.

    a portion of this gas will be blasted away from the sun as charged particles as part of the solar wind.

    another portion would fall into the sun…

    over time, some would be re-ejected, other material will work its way down to the core over a few 100 million years.

    understanding the size might help you understand why we cant hurt it even if we tried.

    Compared to Earth, the sun is enormous. It has a diameter of 1,400,000 kilometers, which is more than three times the distance from Earth to the moon, the longest distance humans have traveled in space. It would take a jet flying at three times the speed of sound more than two months to fly all the way around the sun

    you could fit thousands and thousands of whole earths in it and it would barely burp…

    MEANWHILE… if we were in space that way, our worst factories could be in space. they could eject their worst materials as a gas.

    dont worry about denuding the earth from its resources.

    most people dont realize that resource estimates are only for the first half mile or mile of crust. continental crust is over 30 kilometers thick.

    here is a guestimate
    pubs.usgs.gov/info/assessment/

    northern Appalachia area is assessed to have over 200 tons of undiscovered gold. out of a total of over 14,000 tons… (and there is even more in the ocean. they are working on using bacteria to collect it as they aggregate the gold in their cells).

    even more interesting is to look where the highly toxic green materials come from and who has monopolies or dominates the market.

    care to check out where mercury for CFL comes from? or neodymium…

    physicists and engineers tend to be the ones to blow whistles on bs in other sciences. we have extremely high standards compared to other disciplines, and all other disciplines start with what physics works with as foundational to reality.

    engineers less so, but they get their standards from having to produce without failure, and so through that and the physics they use as a tool (rather than making up new physics all the time) gives them a good sense of what can or cant be done.

    note as i pointed out above an administrater playing pretend engineer is not an engineer.

  32. Scott Says:

    The late, great, comedian, libertarian, philosopher George Carlin has the right perspective about it all in this awesome clip (note language warning):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtrT5oG_IVc

  33. KBK Says:

    @artfldgr: I’d appreciate it if you were to stay on topic and be a lot more concise.

  34. Don Says:

    Rush was right.

  35. Artfldgr Says:

    KBK,
    i would if i could, but i cant so i wont.

    or to quote sitting on the doc of the bay:
    i cant do what twenty people tell me to do
    so i guess i will remain the same…

    just scroll past me, most others do… :)

  36. Oblio Says:

    what ten people tell me to do :)

  37. Artfldgr Says:

    he was on a dock, i am on a blog, i have 20… :)

    thanks for the correction though…
    i cant remember everything…
    just claim to remember a whole lot.

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