• How BP Messed Up the Environment

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    I don't understand
    the commotion over oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico when a drilling
    operation went sour. Oil has always oozed out of the ground to foul
    land, lakes, and oceans. That's how people first discovered the
    stuff.

    In nature some
    oil on the surface evaporates off as naphtha (probably the basis
    of the ancient Greek fire). Other oil is digested by bacteria converting
    it into simple organic compounds that other organisms feast on,
    leading to a localized exuberant biodiversity. The heavier components
    of oil remain as lumps called bitumen or asphalt.

    The Dead Sea
    was called Lake Asphaltites because of the gooey pebbles that floated
    onto the surface from underwater seeps. This asphalt was used on
    Egyptian mummies. Oil found floating on lakes or in puddles was
    used by Indians to caulk canoes, and as medicines. In California’s
    ber-environmentalist Santa Barbara County, an estimated 11 to 160
    barrels of oil seep into the ocean daily and have for countless
    centuries; the locals have made attempts at capping it.

    Oil exists
    beneath the surface of the earth under pressure that causes it to
    seep to the surface by any available route. When a well is drilled
    into a pocket of contained oil the pressure forces it to gush out
    and over the wellhead. The pressure in the pool of drilled oil gradually
    falls, and the seep ceases. In this way, oil drilling actually has
    stopped numerous spills of oil onto the surface where it fouled
    land and water for eons.

    The British
    Petroleum accident allows environmentalists to make arguments against
    offshore drilling. If environmentalists really wanted to preserve
    pristine nature, they would be appalled that drilling for oil has
    interfered with widespread oil seeps that enriched the environment
    before mankind messed things up.

    The originally
    appeared in Liberty
    magazine.

    June
    29, 2010

    Erwin
    Haas produces a TV show in Grand Rapids, Michigan and vblogs at
    www.youtube.com/erwinhaaslibertarian.

    ©
    2010 Liberty

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