Whenever I write about environmental issues, apologists for make-it-worse Republicans or don’t-help-much Democrats inevitably dig up a dimly understood headline which apparently supports the case they want to make.
This tedious scenario played itself out yet again when I wrote about Obama approving offshore drilling in the Arctic, and some chump linked this factoid…
According to new research by scientists from UC Santa Barbara and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), that’s how much oil has made its way into sediments offshore from petroleum seeps near Coal Oil Point in the Santa Barbara Channel.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone who read this article wouldn’t feel just a little less anxious about oil spills like the Exxon Valdez disaster. 80 times as much oil has already seeped off the coast of Santa Barbara! So what if a few more tankers spring a leak?
The same article was reprinted in five or six venues virtually verbatim, with approximately the same flaming headline, but none of the tools who reprinted it asked any questions, like…
How long would it take those seeps at Coal Oil Point to seep 80 times as much oil as the Exxon Valdez?
The answer is about 1000 years, at approximately 60 barrels per day, very gradually adding up to 80 times as much as the 257,000 barrels which leaked out of the Exxon Valdez in one day.
But since the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez seeps into the Santa Barbara Channel in only 12 years, why was the Exxon Valdez so much more disastrous than what happens naturally?
Taking into account that more than half of the 257,000 barrels from the Exxon Valdez leaked out in the first 3 hours, now we can set up a household analogy numerically representing the risks involved with drilling in the Arctic.
In this analogy, we adopt the usual estimate of how much poop an average person poops per day: 8 ounces.
Now your house is the Arctic, in this analogy, and one fine day Barack Obama comes to visit! But he has a little accident, and…
20,000 pounds of poop fly out his ass.
Aren’t you glad you invited him?