Essay about The Effects of Oil Spills and Drilling on the Environment

Essay about The Effects of Oil Spills and Drilling on the Environment

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Oil spills and drilling has an effect on our environment. It’s estimated that since humans have first started drilling into the earth, we have drilled over 1700 holes into the ocean floor (Normile & Kerr 2003). Oil drilling can lead to oil deposits accumulating beneath thick layers of salt. Drilling at ~4,000m deep involves extreme conditions; the oil itself may be around 200oC, while the temperature of the ocean floor might be just above freezing. This would cause the pipe to burst, which has a high probability of leading to oil being spilled. The average number of marine spills per year has increased from 47 per year (1968-1977) to 188 ruptures and 228 leakages per year (Jernelöv 2010). Oil spills are detrimental to the environment, and every year, about 1% of the oil being shipped across the ocean (around 1.5 billion tons of oil) is spilled (Jernelöv 2010).
One particular article mentions that there are two types of spills: shore-bound surface spills and the deep-ocean oil spills. Surface oil spills are more detrimental to the health of species that occupy that space, such as seabirds. In addition, organisms within shallow waters are affected by the oil spills. These include salt-marshes and mangroves (Peterson et. al 2012). Oil itself is conventional or unconventional depending on the quality of the oil. Conventional oil is light and flows underground from reservoirs easily. Unconventional oil is heavy and thick, making it less desirable for use (Hirsch et. al 2005).
From smaller oil spills to the Deepwater Horizon spill, and others like it, oil spills are one of the most detrimental effects that oil has on the environment. Oil drilling, most of which leads to spills and other negative environmental impacts, he...


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...nce. 300:410-412

Nowak R. 2005. Greener lubricants clean up oil drilling. New Scientist. 186:26.

Peterson CH, Anderson SS, Cherr GN, Ambrose RF, Anghera S, Bay S, Blum M, Condon R, Dean TA, Graham M, Guzy M, Hampton S, Joye S, Lambrinos J, Mate B, Meffert D, Powers S.P, Somasundaran P, Spies R.B, Taylor C.M, Tjeerdema R, & Adams E. 2012. A tale of two spills: Novel science and policy implications of an emerging oil spill model. Bioscience. 62:461-469

Peterson CH, Rice SD, Short J.W, Esler D, Bodkin, JL, Ballachey BE, Irons, DB. 2003. Long term ecosystem response to the exxon valdez oil spill. Science. 302: 2082- 2086.

Rabalais N. 2003. Oil in the sea. Issues in Science and Technology. 20:74-78

Rist C. 1999. Why we'll never run out of oil. Discover: 80-87.

Schmidt CW. 2010. The arctic drilling controversy. Environmental Health Perspectives. 118:A394-A397.

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