Did you know that over 195 million gallons of oil and gas are spilled into the oceans every year? Or, that our current administration has proposed a plan to open up 90% of Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic to oil and gas drilling, including some environmentally protected areas? While searching for the golden ticket of renewable energy, oil is still a mainstay in American energy production – but at what cost marine life, fauna, and other ocean ecosystems?
The Ocean’s Black Gold:
Oil is a commodity that has been in high demand for over a century. For decades, we have been disrupting the environment, while destroying many ecosystems in the process. Many people can remember the devastating BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that spilled over 210 million gallons of oil into the gulf. But, did you know 9 years later the ecosystems have still not recovered? A 2018 study showed that biodiversity in the spill zone is substantially lower compared to other regions of the gulf. Let’s take a deeper look at some additional facts about offshore drilling.
Offshore Oil Drilling Facts:
- There have been at least eight spills in excess of 50,000 gallons since 2005.
- Offshore drilling rigs are dumping tons of oil drilling fluid, toxic metal cuttings and carcinogens into the ocean from daily operations.
- By completely developing our oceans for oil extraction, the Department of Energy estimates that oil imports would be reduced by a mere 2.5% in 2030, at which point we will have begun exhausting our offshore potential.
- Development of oil and gas strips the seafloor of vegetation and marine life, increase erosion, and seriously fragment once unspoiled marine life habitats.
- Polar bears could be hurt by drilling in the Arctic. The animals are already at risk due to climate change melting their icy habitats, and further pollution could poison their prey.
- Five oil and gas companies have been given the green light to use seismic airgun blasts to search for lucrative oil and gas deposits that could be buried in the sea floor from New Jersey to Florida. Since dolphin and other aquatic animals use sound to search for food, communication and travelling, the loud sound waves can interrupt their daily lives.
- The Seismic studies tend to cover up to 600 miles and go for almost a month.
- Renewable energy resources are already replacing oil and gas. Currently, renewable resources generate more than 10% of the United States’ electricity and provide the equivalent of more than five billion gallons of gasoline for transportation annually.
How can I make an impact:
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Research the difference between oil industry protocols and renewable energy initiatives. When you understand the pros and cons of each, you can make informed decisions for the sustainability of our planet.
- Reduce your consumption of fossil fuels. Unplugging unused electronics, turning off lights, and purchasing energy efficient appliances are just a few simple ways to make an impact.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1
- Reduce and eventually eliminate your plastic consumption. Are you aware that plastic is a petroleum based product? Instead, opt for biodegradable and other sustainable solutions.
- Reduce your drive time. Instead, walk, bike or take public transportation when possible.
- Buying local reduces oil consumption through the transportation sector. Shop local, support your local farmers and create a community with your neighbors.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Action 1 & 2
- Use petroleum free beauty products. Many people don’t know what ingredients are in their beauty regiment. Read the labels and remove any petroleum products. Search for more eco-friendly alternatives that use non-toxic ingredients.
- Demand more renewable energy from your local government.
- Educate and inspire your friends and family to make small changes to create impact.