When Peak Oil and Climate Change Collide

The disaster in the Gulf is a direct result of peak oil.  All the easy oil has been sucked up.  To keep feeding our addiction, we are now sanctioning oil wells in deep water, from very deep underground.  The logistics and the physical pressures are enormous.  Managing those, as we’ve seen over the last 40 days, is very difficult, if not impossible.  This is what peak oil has done to us:  we are taking huge risks with the health of the environment, the fate of people whose economy depends on that environment, and ultimately, all of us as inhabitants of this small planet.  And now a blanket of oil layers the Gulf.

Today, Hurricane Season 2010 begins.  Forecasters are predicting a more active season than usual. Hurricanes need warm waters to grow.  NOAA reports that “the global land and ocean temperature during April 2010 was the warmest on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1998.” And “the Northern Hemisphere land-and-ocean temperature were the warmest April on record…”  http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100517_globalstats_sup.html

This was in APRIL!  Will it cool appreciably during the summer?  Unlikely.

So, let’s review the situation.  Our oil addiction has caused what could be the greatest environmental disaster in history. We’ve warmed the planet with fossil fuels to an extent unseen before. Now, the intersection of peak oil and climate change: hurricanes moving over and through a gigantic spill.

Besides wind and waves driving the mass of the slick far inland, what else could happen? Oil Rain.

The Los Angeles Times quotes AccuWeather forecaster Joe Bastardi as saying a strong storm could not only send the oil slick north toward the coast, but oil droplets could become airborne and move inland.

The possibility of “oil rain” is a whole new environmental effect to worry about, especially if a storm were to move inland and rain itself out across the United States…..

The concept of “oil rain” is based on the idea that “micro-droplets” of oil will be small enough to be sucked into a developing storm.  And what is one of the primary methods being used in the Gulf right now?  ”Dispersants” that break oil into micro-droplets.

From Bloomberg:

“A hurricane entering the Gulf while the slick is still there would be ‘an unthinkable bio-environmental catastrophe,’ said Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist for Planalytics Inc. in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

This surge would serve to bring a wall of poisonous, toxic water and oil well inland,” Rouiller said. “Water systems for the public would probably have to shut down. Even a tropical storm would pose potentially long-term and catastrophic impacts to the Gulf Coast.”

Our addiction to fossil fuels is creating novel new ways to help us destroy ourselves.  To say nothing of the actions of humans as we respond to these new times.


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