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Smokey Bear Wouldn’t Even Get Out of Bed

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With the current President finally on the scene of the Transocean Horizon oil spill, expect increased hysteria from Big Media. Like this story from Christian Science Monitor (from last week when the explosion was breaking news):

Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion shows new risks

The dramatic oil rig explosion and fire aboard the Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig 50 miles off the Louisiana coast illustrates the growing risk for oil companies as they drill ever deeper into the earth's crust to satisfy domestic and international demand for fuel.

As the US moves to open up more deep water areas for oil exploration and companies prepare to open up deep reserves off the coast of Brazil and Angola, the possible explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, owned by Houston-based Transocean and leased by BP, is a reminder of how the task of supplying the world's oil amid dwindling reserves is becoming ever-more complex – and dangerous – despite technological advancements.

There is little news in the report. It is speculation and warning, woven into a narrative about energy use.

Is this event anything more than a fresh cause to trumpet an agenda? I mean, how significant is the harm caused by this event?

If you’re willing to trust the Big Media spin, you might not like this, from an anonymous oil-industry bigshot:

[Q.] How does this compare to, say, wildfires?

A. Wildfires fully devastate the areas they cover, and typically take 5-30 years to fully recover from a ground fire and up to 150 years to recover from a crown fire. Full recovery from an oil spill is typically a year or less.

This squares with what I recall from past spills, like the Exxon Valdez. The initial slick is ugly and makes great TV. But nature knows how to take care of itself. The action of waves and water break the oil into its constituent mineral compounds and those compounds disappear into the vastness of the environment.

True, if you’re a Gulf fisherman, you have cause for concern. There are certainly risks to oil production. But without fuel for your trawler, this event wouldn’t be your first problem.

To all the rest of us, not impacted on the scene, we must resist the hysteria. Oil production is getting ever safer. Still not perfect, but dramatically improved form even a decade ago. For perspective, as the politicians and activists ramp up their rhetoric, keep this in mind:

In essence, one could fit the environmental consequences of every spill in the history of the hydrocarbon era into one small forest fire

Nature is more powerful than our petty human designs. As terrible as this event may be, it wouldn’t even get Smokey Bear out of bed.

H/T: Maxed Out Mama