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Earth Power

Gulf Gusher Worst Case Scenario 799

An anonymous reader writes "Here's a listing of several scientific and economic guides for estimating the volume of flow of the leak in the Gulf of Mexico erupting at a rate of somewhere around 1 million barrels per day. A new video released shows the largest hole spewing oil and natural gas from an aperture 5 feet in diameter at a rate of approximately 4 barrels per second. The oil coming up through 5,000 feet of pressurized salt water acts like a fractionating column. What you see on the surface is just around 20% of what is actually underneath the approximate 9,000 square miles of slick on the surface. The natural gas doesn't bubble to the top but gets suspended in the water, depleting the oxygen from the water. BP would not have been celebrating with execs on the rig just prior to the explosion if it had not been capable producing at least 500,000 barrels per day — under control. If the rock gave way due to the out-of-control gushing (or due to a nuke being detonated to contain the leak), it could become a Yellowstone Caldera type event, except from below a mile of sea, with a 1/4-mile opening, with up to 150,000 psi of oil and natural gas behind it, from a reserve nearly as large as the Gulf of Mexico containing trillions of barrels of oil. That would be an Earth extinction event."
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Gulf Gusher Worst Case Scenario

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  • My Estimate ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @03:57PM (#32198834)
    According to my meticulous, scientific and unbiassed calculations, my estimate of the number of gallons of oil spewing from the ground in the gulf is: too many.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:02PM (#32198910) Journal
    More's the pity.

    "Extinction" is a very high bar to clear, except for losers like panda bears that are large enough to shoot and barely capable of reproducing without assistance.

    However, "Ecological and social shifts leading to grinding, nigh-unendurable; but nowhere near fatal enough to kill you quickly and be done with it" is very much more common and plausible.

    Unless we start fucking around with self-replicating strangelets, or largish black holes, or other really exotic stuff, "extinction" is not a serious risk. Even nukes would require some real doing. Unfortunately, though, pushing yourself into "and the living shall envy the dead" territory is typically easier than killing yourself off. Even fairly modest ecological disruption could do the bottom billion or so in(and one can hardly expect that they'll go quietly), and make things pretty unpleasant for the remainder.
  • Exponential rate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:04PM (#32198934) Homepage Journal

    We started at 5,000 barrels a day, then 20, 50 and 100,000 barrels a day. Yesterday I saw a figure quoted at 200,000, today I saw 210,000
    But 1 million barrels a day? That's almost three full days ahead of schedule for the media. Didn't Slashdot get the memo?
    Also whoever greenlighted this article needs to get fired for releasing such a panic-y and fear inducing article to the front page.

  • mother of god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:05PM (#32198946) Homepage
    is there any other way to stress the outright critical nature of this disaster? scrubbing seagulls and dancing around in congressional hearings isnt working. We need to pick up the pace, or we risk an entire gulf coast with an ecosystem that resembles a wal-mart parking lot. Shrimp and seafood will become a rather distant memory for the states.
  • by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:05PM (#32198952)
    From the cited web page:
    Paul Noel, 52, works as Software Engineer (as Contractor) for the US Army at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He has a vast experience base including education across a wide area of technical skills and sciences. He supplies technical expertise in all areas required for new products development associated with the US Army office he works in. He supplies extensive expertise in understanding the Oil and Gas industry as well.

    Born in Lynnwood Washington, he came to Huntsville Alabama, when his father moved to be part of NASA's effort to put men on the moon. Neal Armstrong may have gotten the ride, but his father's computers did the driving.

    Paul is also a founding member of the New Energy Congress.

    So..this guy has no training on physics, geology, chemestry. He __says__ he supplies extensive expertise in oil indusry, but how exactly? Software engineering?

    I'm sorry, but I'm not going to get too freaked out by what this man says. If I can get some supporting information from a geologist I'll then worry.
  • Who is this guy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kidgenius ( 704962 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:08PM (#32198998)
    ...and what are his credentials? It says he's a SW engineer with expereince across many technical areas, but I still dont' see how that makes him an expert on estimating flow volumes, etc. He doens't provide sources or backup anything he says. It comes off more as fear-mongering than anything else, especially seeing as he even quotes bible verses.
  • Re:bad at math (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mevets ( 322601 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:10PM (#32199058)

    According to the summary, that is from the largest vent. I didn't read the actual article either, the summary was kinda long and seemed like it had a sad ending.

  • by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3@just[ ... t ['con' in gap]> on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:14PM (#32199116)

    It turns out humans aren't the only species. For example, there are many that live in the water. And a lot of those live exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico.

    If it killed the vast majority of them, I'd consider it an extinction event. And it looks like it might just do that.

  • by sirwchms ( 1811010 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:15PM (#32199126)
    Blarg! There is a difference between bpm (barrels per day) and gpm (gallons per day). The current estimated rate is 25,000 barrels per day, times 55 gallons per barrel, equals 1,375,000 gallons per day. Which isn't any less depressing, but at least it didn't fail 3rd grade math.
  • Horrible article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eison ( 56778 ) <pkteison.hotmail@com> on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:16PM (#32199158) Homepage

    This article is not 'reporting' and should not be presented as 'news', not even news for nerds, stuff that matters.

    There are some very interesting details, things that might perhaps be facts, but after presenting a string of them they are always followed with utterly unsubstantiated wild ass guesses that claim to be absolute facts and firmly grounded in expert opinion etc etc. While the Wild Ass Guesses may actually be true, they aren't facts, and presenting them as facts makes it impossible to believe any of the other information presented. At the end of the article all of this much vaunted expertise that the guesses are based on turns out to be this guy is some random programmer with a pond in his back yard.

    This topic definitely needs some real reporting, but this sort hysterical speculation (includes quoting Revelations and speculating on this being an "Earth Extinction" event under the general premise of "they said this couldn't happen but it did so this other thing that also can't happen is obviously worth speculating about now") is downright irresponsible. Even if the premise that the news is massively underreporting the size of the spill is true, this is not the way to correct it.

  • by y2dt ( 184562 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:17PM (#32199170)

    See limitations on liability from spills and years of subsidies (implicit and explicit) and other anticompetitive, discipline-weakening interventions. You describe the choice as between the free market and government oversight. In fact, the free market is not one of the choices offered, but the two main political subdivisions have an interest in making it seem that way.

  • by joggle ( 594025 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:17PM (#32199174) Homepage Journal

    I don't blame you, especially with quotes like this from TFA:

    The biggest cost of the spill cleanup is being borne by the US Armed Forces such as the National Guard etc. None of these costs will ever be paid by BP. These costs will appear in taxes not in the price of oil. Alternative Oil is vastly cheaper and safer than this.

    How the heck would he know how much the Coast Guard is spending on this? How does he know BP will never reimburse the federal government?

    Also, what's up with his use of capitalization? Since when is natural gas a proper noun? Or alternative oil?

  • by Beezlebub33 ( 1220368 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:20PM (#32199224)
    So....the solution is to regulate them less?

    Color me skeptical.

    Like the financial disaster, when there is a disconnect between the people who profit in the short term and the people who pay the penalty in the long term, then the market does not work. In the finance industry, people could focus on making really high profits by taking enormous risks, and when the highly leveraged bets worked, they made tons of money. And if the risks didn't work out, the government is there to make it all better. Here, the oil company (BP) has a history of cutting corners to improve profits and crossing their fingers that nothing blows up. When it does, the insurance company or government or the people themselves cover the damage. In this case, they just screwed the pooch more than normal, and it might really hurt the company. But the executives that made lots of money by cutting the corners and improving profits are long gone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:20PM (#32199242)

    Seriously, it must be great stuff.

    "it could become a Yellowstone Caldera type event, except from below a mile of sea, with a 1/4-mile opening, with up to 150,000 psi of oil and natural gas behind it, from a reserve nearly as large as the Gulf of Mexico containing trillions of barrels of oil. That would be an Earth extinction event."

    Hard geopressure for that reservoir would be under 20,000 psi (~1 psi per foot of depth)

    Caldera collapses are much more energetic than anything you can imagine even with what you're smoking. Try 100,000 times Mt St Helens.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:21PM (#32199256) Journal
    Oh, I don't know, I was going to agree with you, but then I read the article and noticed one of his primary cited works is the bible:

    "The Gulf appears to be bleeding," which is chilling, considering the prophesy in Revelation 8:8: "The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze [appearance of the burning rig and slick], was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."

    We can always trust someone who uses the bible as their main source. Right?...........right? In any case, at least now you know the relevant bible prophecy.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:21PM (#32199260) Homepage

    Not necessarily; there were quite a few extinction events casued mostly by...change of environment by life itself. Don't forget that the true rulers of this planet are bacteria.

    If such massive catastrophe, as described in TFS, were to happen - who knows, might get interesting. Is it so inconcievable that bacteria would remind yet again who owns this place? As a byproduct, changing the Earth enviroment to be unbearable to complex multicellular life...

  • Re:mother of god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hazem ( 472289 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:22PM (#32199270) Journal

    Except that if you look at a globe, you'll see that most of the large blue areas are connected. It might take a while, but what leaks into the gulf blue area will eventually end up in most of the other blue areas.

    However the short-term outlook for the SE Asia fish farmers is very good... good enough to plan an early retirement.

  • Re:Reality Check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:25PM (#32199324) Journal

    What, you mean to imply that software engineers aren't qualified to predict geologically driven doomsday events?

  • by The_Wilschon ( 782534 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:27PM (#32199372) Homepage
    Also, someone with knowledge of what words mean should have proofread it, rather than just running it through a spell checker. By "disburse", he means "disperse", by "fractioning column", he means "fractionating column", and by "prophesy", he means "prophecy". For someone who is a supposed expert in this field, he has a surprisingly poor ability to use the relevant jargon (disperse and fractionating column) correctly.

    Speaking of prophecy, the Biblical reference is pure fear-mongering. It is not salient to estimates of the amount of oil, nor to the ecological effects of the release of oil. It is unprofessional and weakens his case by causing him to sound like a scared crackpot with an conclusion reached independently of any of the evidence he presents rather than a dispassionate analyst attempting to evaluate things with as much honesty and accuracy as possible. We need more of the latter and fewer of the former.

    Finally, I have difficulty believing that the ecological effects will be anywhere near as great as an "Earth extinction event", or even bad enough to register on geologic-timescale extinction event charts. It seems quite likely to me that normal geological processes in the last few billion years must have opened up much larger sudden releases of oil (even under the ocean) many many times. One would think that, if a large underwater oil release had massive effects on the world's ecology, paleontologists would be able to tell us about it. Of course, I could be totally wrong in several assumptions here, and it really could be that bad, but my intuition prevents me from believing it. Of course, since I'm not called upon to make any decisions relating to the spill, it doesn't much matter whether I believe it or not.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:27PM (#32199380)

    if we take the author of this tripe and put him on the bottom of the ocean then let him continue to blow the hot air out of his ass as he's doing here.

    Seriously ... the whole gulf of mexico is going to explode into an oil gusher?

    And people are believing it?

    Seriously, when the hell did everyone turn off their freaking common sense?

    The freaking math doesn't even add up in this story. Its claiming a million gallons a day gushing, but at 4 barrels per second, you don't get to a million in one day. You don't even get to the 500k that BP would be so happy about, you get 345.6k/day. So you need a good 6BPS from everything else to start hitting a million gallons a day. Not the case. Of course he contridicts himself in his own article with at one point saying 500k and at another saying 1m.

    He refers to chemicals added to the well head the speed up the fracturing process ... to bad BP isn't pumping those chemicals into the head anymore so thats just complete bullshit.

    He compares the oil slick to his back yard pond ... except it doesn't work that way. The oil spreads out rapidly to cover as much surface area as it can, thats what happens when you have a lighter liquid on top of a heavier liquid, it spreads out to get as close to the top as it possibly can. It doesn't stay in one little column. Thats why buoys can be left on the surface to contain it, cause its ON THE SURFACE ONLY.

    So the current hole is spewing at 70k psi he claims ( I won't argue it, I'm too lazy to look for facts, just like him ) but when the entire thing 'releases' in his extinction event, its going to jump to 150k psi ... Someone doesn't understand hydrolics very well. The pressure doesn't get greater when you apply it to a larger area, it gets lower as the same force is spread out over a larger area. You have to increase the energy in the system to actually get more out, all you can do otherwise is exchange speed for pressure and vice versa

    Imagine how much alternative energy work that would have produced.

    A hell of a lot less than the oil would of, fractions of whats contained in the oil. He has no concept of how much energy is contained in oil and how efficient of a storage mechanism that it is.

    I could go on, but whats the point. This is a retarded story written by an idiot rambling about stuff he doesn't know anything about. Is it an environmental disaster? Yes. Is the gulf coast going to suffer for a while and have a large loss of life? Certainly. Will I notice anything more than a higher gas price at the pump? No. Will it recover? Yes, in a few short years at most. Its bad that this happened, its bad that its still spewing oil, but any moron who buys into this article needs to lock themselves in a bomb shelter and wait for 2012 to kill as all cause thats just as logical and likely to happen.

    Finally, I'm really lazy I admit, but can someone tell me if theres a way to ignore timothy and kdawson stories? Since they obviously are going to keep letting idiots qualify as editors I'd hope that CmdrTaco has given us an opt out method at least.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:31PM (#32199450) Journal

    True that, but modern knowledge wouldn't go away just because modern technology did. As a random example, consider infection control. We know how bugs spread and what steps to take to reduce that spread. Many (most?) of those steps aren't dependent on advanced technology -- hand washing for instance. How many lives would have been saved in the past with the benefit of this knowledge?

  • by KreAture ( 105311 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:34PM (#32199514)
    Pressure is not the same as expansion force. The reason the oil and gas is under pressure is because it is trapped under all the rock and sand. The pathway to the surface exposes this pressure allowing gushing of oil. This does not mean that the reservoir could expend all this pressure at once in a expulsion/explosion because the eruptive event itself would cancel out most of the source for the pressure. It's comparable to an inflated balloon deep under water. The forces acting on it balances out with the pressure inside it. If you calculate the ammount of potential energy it could smash a car, but pop the balloon and the gas and water would mix resulting in a quite non-spectacular event. Most of the oil isn't even in a chamber, it's in porous rock slowing the release/event. The devestation here will be the release of the gasses and oil into the water and it's effect on coasts and marine life. This is why we should get it under control, not because it would bring on an ice-age. (It won't...)
  • by butterflysrage ( 1066514 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:35PM (#32199522)

    metric would never have such a bass-ackwards unit.

  • by kingramon0 ( 411815 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:36PM (#32199546) Homepage

    In this case, the regulation that should have been removed was the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which limits oil companies' total liability in case of an oil spill to $75 million.

    Without that juicy legislation by Congress, they would have been damn sure their stuff was safe, because they would be on the hook for the entire damages otherwise. Now, they are basically going to decide for themselves which "legitimate" damages they feel like paying.

    Good job Congress!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:42PM (#32199672)

    So, how come Laissez-Faire, don't-tell-corporations-how-to-run-themselves, deregulation didn't stop this from happening? It doesn't make any sense! I mean BP is an oil company. Can you guys help me blame this on Big Government?

    Because it's NON-laissez-faire policies that prevent:

    1. BP from being fully financially liable for the costs of this disaster
    2. Individuals being held criminally accountable for corporate behavoir

    That's not the free market at work, that's "we're the government and we know best" - AGAIN.

  • Re:Wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:43PM (#32199690) Journal

    We won't tail off. We'll drop off a cliff.

    Production and consumption are continuing to rise.

    Based on current estimates of proved and predicted reserves, we have 30-50 years of oil left.

    And when it ends, it won't be a slow degradation in the flow. it will be more like the straw gurgling in the bottom of your Coke. It was flowing happily at full speed and then suddenly there was nothing left to pump.

    The alternative is, as individual superproducers hit their own local bottom-of-the-barrel situations, the remainder will react to the reduced competition by raising prices. But they will also raise production. The end-users may slow consumption or switch more of their consumption to more-efficient systems, but that will be a slowing of the growth, not a downturn.

    if the imbalances in production take on certain configurations, you can expect it to invade geopolitical stability, as it always has. So in some cases the flow will be maintained by the spilling of blood and the destruction of cultures, as it always has.

    So if you're one of the lucky ones it will be just like the gurgling of a straw, and not the burping of a machine gun.

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:46PM (#32199724) Journal

    Your reach far exceeds your grasp.

    "Last I checked"? You mean that slideshow you clicked-through to yesterday?

    The alarmist bozos we need to be paying attention to here are the ones who said that this wouldn't happen and any attempt to regulate it was communist in nature. And the attention we need to be paying is in how long a rope to throw over how high of a tree limb for them to swing from.

  • by Beezlebub33 ( 1220368 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:47PM (#32199742)

    In this case, the regulation that should have been removed was the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which limits oil companies' total liability in case of an oil spill to $75 million.

    I would agree with this.

    Without that juicy legislation by Congress, they would have been damn sure their stuff was safe, because they would be on the hook for the entire damages otherwise. Now, they are basically going to decide for themselves which "legitimate" damages they feel like paying.

    Good job Congress!

    No, this is not correct. The problem is that the 'they' in your sentences changes over time. 'they' who run the company now want short term profit, so 'they' cut the corners and make lots of money in the years they run it. Later, some new guy takes over when the whole thing goes to crap, and 'they' would be on the hook. The company goes bankrupt. This does not solve the problem.

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:47PM (#32199756) Journal

    Good point. Don't the moderators of this website do even the most basic fact checking any more?

  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:50PM (#32199790) Homepage Journal

    You don't seem to get it! This is a Yellowstone-caldera-like event! Except instead of lava, it's oil, and instead of spanning most of North America it spans part of the Gulf of Mexico, and instead of a volcano per se, it's more like an oil spill (which has happened, in large quantities, without even the slightest hint of human extinctions).

    What part of that doesn't make sense?

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:56PM (#32199872) Journal

    At any rate, existing law covers this type of situation just fine. The harmed governments, industries, companies, and individuals will sue and win large settlements from BP and its insurers.

    The existing laws basically protect BP from catastrophic payments. The system is designed to allow oil companies vast profits with only marginal risk.

    Losses due to payments and increased insurance costs will hit the share price, punishing the owners (shareholders) of BP for what has happened.

    BP is self-insured. For some reason insurance companies don't want to insure oil rigs or extraction.

    None of this requires new regulation. In fact, any new regulation will result in punishment being distributed beyond BP to others who were not responsible. This will likely lead to increased prices at the pump, which will then mean you and I are the ones being punished. Is this the fairness you propose?

    Then perhaps BP should have to pay to every consumer of oil as well, as part of the chain of economic damage it has caused.

  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @04:58PM (#32199910)

    If it killed the vast majority of them, I'd consider it an extinction event.

    Thankfully, we have an actual definition for the word "extinction" and don't have to bother with what you consider it to be.

    An extinction event requires that all creatures of that species cease to live. There can be no more, because none are currently alive. That is what "extinct" means.

    What you described is a species becoming endangered of going extinct. It is not an extinction event. Many species can and do pull out of these situations - our own has faced a few of them and returned from the brink of extinction to thrive. Extinctions are difficult to pull off, but we've managed a few in the past, and nature has managed a whole hell of a lot more.

  • by Bemopolis ( 698691 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:02PM (#32199988)
    Hey, it doesn't stop all of the software engineers here giving their unqualified opinions on climatology.
  • by Low Ranked Craig ( 1327799 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:03PM (#32200004)

    Did you check the actual figures?

    I did. did you?

    From the TFA:

    ...supports the estimates closer to 1 million barrels per day erupting from this hole BP popped in the ocean floor that contains trillions of barrels of oil and natural gas.

    1,000,000 barrels of oil a day is 42,000,000 gallons a day. It's quite a big jump from 5,000 to 1,000,000 and one has to wonder if they have their facts straight...

  • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:03PM (#32200010)
    And just how much of that cultural knowledge do you think would survive after 2 or 3 generations of what is essentially an illiterate society? I think you drastically underestimate the amount of information needed to support even a modest technological society ... or you drastically overestimate the available bandwidth of oral storytelling in a tribal society.
  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:09PM (#32200094) Journal
    It's liquid volume, not solid volume, so the correct unit is Olympic Swimming Pools per fortnight.

    At 5,000 barrels per day, that's approximately 4.45 OSPs/fortnight.

    This unit (OSP/fortnight) is perfect, as it expresses the current approximate volume spewed per unit time in a number easily approximated by looking at your fingers for those short on Large Number Equivalency Skill.
  • Just Think.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:15PM (#32200184)

    ...about how many nuke plants we could have had in operation by now had it not been for the anti-nuke activists.

    It could have been the case that offshore drilling wouldn't even have been required.

    We could have been well on the way to electric transportation infrastructure.

    But, we'll never know now.

    Thanks anti-nuke wackos.

  • Re:That much oil? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:17PM (#32200210) Homepage

    We only have enough oil for 10-20 years more.

    Call me cynical, but I've been hearing that for the last 30 years.

  • by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:18PM (#32200230)

    The methane released (and absorbed) likely pales in comparison to what's generated by the sediment in a few square miles of ocean anyway.

    I work next to the ocean, the water is between 2 and 8 feet deep (tidal), it sits there bubbling methane all freaking day.

    Also, I did the math a few days ago, but the Mississippi dumps more petroleum distillates into the gulf on a daily basis than a 5,000 bbl oil spill does. Remember, this area of water is the watershed for a huge portion of the country. Every drop of oil that drips off the bottom of a car, every ounce of paint that gets into septic systems in the midwest works its way down to this outlet.

    The big problem here likely won't be the oil in the environment as a whole, it's the -concentration- of it in some places. The gulf is huge, that will be a mitigating factor, but I'm sure some places will get 'bunches' of oil that cause localized problems.

  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:28PM (#32200366) Journal

    Thankfully, we have an actual definition for the word "extinction" and don't have to bother with what you consider it to be.

    The "most of them" he's referring to are marine species that exist only in the Gulf of Mexico, not individuals of a species. If most of them are killed off, then yes, it is an extinction event, because it is an event that leads to the extinction of many species.

  • by DaveGod ( 703167 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @05:49PM (#32200692)

    Without wanting to seem anti-regulation, there is a good argument that regulations tend to set both the floor and the ceiling on standards. If that bar isn't high enough, nobody will surpass it to reach to the necessary point. Any failure has the response - the defence - that all was within regulations.

    Regulating better isn't simply regulating more.

  • Re:My Estimate ... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @06:12PM (#32200974)

    How many football fields would that cover?

  • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @06:26PM (#32201152) Journal
    And just how much of that cultural knowledge do you think would survive after 2 or 3 generations of what is essentially an illiterate society?

    Here's two things to write on your cave wall:

    - Wash your hands with soap.
    - The Sun is a star.

    Everything else follows.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @06:54PM (#32201492) Homepage

    Good point. Don't the moderators of this website do even the most basic fact checking any more?

    Haha! Do they do fact checking "any more"! Oh, ha ha ha, that's a good one.

    I knew about the comedic possibilities inherent in the words "probably" and "again", but I had overlooked "anymore".

  • by Knara ( 9377 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @07:09PM (#32201672)
    hee hee
  • Re:Oh god. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dudpixel ( 1429789 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @08:41PM (#32202490)

    I'm in Florida so I'm stealing a Cessna 172 and flying to the Bahamas! My last moments will be sipping a beer watching the fireworks from the dock of the Big Game Club in Bimini. Who's with me?

    For some reason, spending my last moments alive with a really hot woman is better. If life on this planet was about to die, I might actually stand a chance.

    what are the chances of said "really hot woman" wanting to spend her last moments with you?

  • Re:mother of god (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Seth Kriticos ( 1227934 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @08:52PM (#32202576)

    He also forgot another tiny detail: oil floats at the top of water.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @08:57PM (#32202622)

    So far, oil isn't even washing up on beaches in any appreciable way. A huge portion of the area is an oxygen-depleted, polluted 'dead zone' anyway because of the Mississippi. Last I checked, only -two- birds had been collected for cleaning. Only about 4% of the gulf is blocked-off from fishing, and the larger fisheries aren't even expecting much damage, they're taking a 'wait and see' stance.

    There are millions of gallons of oil in the gulf right now and millions more on the way. It's not a question of whether that oil is going to end up on the beach, it's simply a question of when and which beaches. A little bit of fortuitous weather is the only reason we're speaking about this in the future tense rather than the present.

    Or if you'll forgive an analogy: our car just went over the railing and we're headed towards the rocks a thousand feet below. Technically speaking we're not yet a bloody, blackened smear. But that shouldn't comfort you much, or at least not for very long.

    Still, (as of yet) clean beaches and untainted food seem to scare consumers away from vacations and shrimp, not because there's a risk, but because most consumers are total alarmist bozos, just like most career-environmentalists.

    So people are being rational and using their god-given predictive abilities to make guesses about likely near-term events. What a bunch of bozos.

    I don't know much about the shrimp, but I'm on vacation in the gulf side of Florida right now and the local news has basically been telling me that the local beach could become a toxic smear if/when the wind shifts in the right direction. I'm already here so whatever, but if I was planning a trip a few weeks out it could definitely alter my thinking.

  • Re:Serious FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:04PM (#32202678)

    Not to defend the article, but you're confusing pressure with stress.

    Example: if you lay down in the driveway and I park a car on your chest, it'll exert a stress of 20-30 psi and break your ribs. Yet a good swimmer can free-dive to a depth of 20-30 feet, where the water pressure is 20-30 psi, and be fine. The difference is whether the force is along one axis or omnidirectional.

    Granite will shatter to bits if you apply 10k atmospheres of compressive *stress*, but if you put it under 10k atmospheres of pressure, it'll be just fine.

  • by Killall -9 Bash ( 622952 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:08PM (#32202702)
    If you fucking hate us so much, stop eating our McDonalds, stop wearing our Levi's, stop watching our MTV (shit, we don't even watch it anymore), and while you're at it, you can stop using the global communication networks we've paid for. Summary: you hate us because you want to be us. You will stop hating us when you wake up and realize you are already us, and that the extravagant American lifestyle you envy does not exist anywhere except on your TVs.
  • Re:Just Think.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @10:27PM (#32203162)

    ...if people had listened to Jimmy Carter and started conserving energy back in the 70s we wouldn't need either.

  • Re:Just Think.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @10:40PM (#32203248)

    If we just had driven more economical cars and had more mass transportation and more economical homes and more compact cities instead of sprawling metropolises. We have proven over and over that more supply does not help us because we just increase our consumption to match. Cheap gas meant bigger cars, cheap nuclear electricity would just mean larger homes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @12:16AM (#32203772)

    "A huge portion of the area is an oxygen-depleted, polluted 'dead zone' anyway because of the Mississippi."

    Cool. So the destruction isn't so bad because the area has already been destroyed some other, earlier, more acceptable form of pollution?

  • Re:Just Think.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @12:49AM (#32203934)

    You probably don't drive because all cars are built like the Corvair, right?

    Welcome to the no-IQ zone.

  • Re:Just Think.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mgblst ( 80109 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @12:50AM (#32203940) Homepage

    Believe it or not the anti-nuke activists had very little to do with it.

    Can you think of anyone else, who makes large amounts of money, and buy politicians by the bucket load, who has profited from lack of nuclear plants??

    Thats right, your old friends the Coal, Gas and Petroleum industries.

    Amazing as it is to believe, hippies haven't actually had that much of an affect on civilization.

  • Re:Just Think.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ppanon ( 16583 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @02:18AM (#32204314) Homepage Journal
    Not at all. It's just that a big part of the USA has the "Everything is better if it's private" mental disease, combined with the "Regulation is unnecessary bureaucracy" mental disease. So the same corporate policy tendencies for short term profits at the expense of safety that made the Gulf of Mexico Three Amigos cut corners when running a deep water rig can be expected to also apply to privately run nuclear power plants. Instead of a large oil slick that kills all wildlife over hundreds of square miles and takes 20 years to break down, you would have a nuclear waste spill that infects groundwater, rendering a huge area uninhabitable for hundreds of years. Until you completely cut off for-profit corporate contributions to political organizations and campaigns, you can't allow corporations to run really dangerous projects because they'll manipulate the political process to allow them to make more money by cutting oversight on necessary safety processes.
    Because even if you haven't figured it out yet after the bank bailouts, many corporate executives have figured out that it doesn't matter whether cutting corners may mean that the company might go bankrupt in 3 or 4 years as long as they can make massive bonuses through increasing profits by cutting safety margins and taking other significant risks with a half-life that's long enough to get them set up for life.
  • Re:Just Think.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joe U ( 443617 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @09:14AM (#32206208) Homepage Journal

    I'm very pro atomic energy, and I wouldn't want one within 50 miles of where I live or work.

    Mostly because the plants are run by electric companies like ConEd, who typically has one explosion a year with their generators. If you take these morons out of the picture then I wouldn't have a problem living near one.

    I only know one easy way to do that, make sure you can't earn a profit from it. Otherwise it's going to be the typical, do it as cheaply as possible to get the most money from it, and then blame someone else when the groundwater is contaminated.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972