It is not unreasonable to say that the oil disaster in the Gulf is worse than the oil sands project in Canada. While the oil sands project is still bad for the environment, the spill is an all-out catastrophe. Here are a few reasons why the BP oil spill/leak is so bad, especially compared to the oil sands projec:
1. It keeps on gushing. The leak hasn’t been capped, so more and more oil is spilling out into natural habitats every day. It’s a huge amount of oil, and may lead to a dead zone in the ocean.
2. The oil is being gushed into water, and water can carry the oil great distances. Furthermore, many animals migrate through the affected waters. So not only are animals that live totally in the gulf affected, but so are animals that migrate and animals that live on shore.
3. The oil sands project is still relatively small and (most importantly) it is entirely controllable. The size of the oil disaster is getting to the point where it may no longer be manageable. The oil sands project can stop at any time, but we still don’t know when the oil leak will be fixed!
The spill has destroyed an entire ecosystem of a large body of water. It is tremendous on the scale of natural disasters and is destroying local economies as well (no fish). The Tar Sands project in Canada is terrible, but we will not see the direct impact of the project. I believe both of them are terrible and it is hard to determine which one is worse because the impacts of the Tars Sands in indirect.
Comparing these two situations is difficult, in part because of the vast difference in scope. The Tar Sands project is part of a controllable experiment, whose greatest legacy will probably be misplaced optimism and wasted energy — the amount of energy needed to pump oil out of the concentrated tar sands is astronomically out of proportion to the amount of fuel actually harvested. Thinking that we’ll be able to get that ratio under control the more we invest in Tar Sands strikes me as irresponsibly optimistic about the advance of technology and the amount of existing fuel.
However, I disagree with the link I cited that it is “The Most Destructive Project on Earth. I think one ultimately has to conclude that the BP oil disaster is probably one of the worst things that could ever happen to the ocean, and the ocean is an extremely important thing. It provides the earth with stable air supply, weather systems, water and food, and generally serves as a balancing force or key element in every single ecosystem the Earth supports. “Killing” part of the ocean by flooding it with oil will have massive, horrifying, long-term repercussions everywhere on Earth.
Also, as a parting note, the sheer size of this spill is mind-breakingly insane. This website offers a good tool for visualizing how much physical space the oil is taking up: http://www.ifitwasmyhome.com/
In terms of size, BP definitely has Tar Sands beat!
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