I certainly hope it is much less, but I think it is much too early to really know the full extent of the damage. The gulf has a very complex ecosystem (and economic system), so I think we’ll just have to keep studying the whole thing. I hear that the Prince William Sound, the site of the Exxon Valdez spill, still smells like a gas station, even after all these years.
The earth’s systems are really quite resilient; the natural oil seep in the Santa Barbara Channel has been putting 100 to 150 barrels of oil into the ocean every day for hundreds or (more likely) thousands of years. I’m not saying there is no impact, but just that nature handles things fairly well (and very very well, given enough time). That seep also puts rather large quantities of natural gases into the atmosphere and ocean, and again, has done so for a very long time.
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