Monday, June 14, 2010


I received a comment today on another post on the blog which suggested that I shouldn't get hysterical over the crops and animals dying in Tennessee and the possible connection to the blowout in the Gulf. Firstly, I would like to assure my kind reader that I'm not getting hysterical. Emotions like that always seem so pointless. What's done is done in the Gulf and all we can do now is pray and prepare as best we can.

But prepare for what?

You see, that's the million dollar question and one that I just don't see being addressed either by government or in the media. What are the potential effects of this? I think that if we are to be honest, the Gulf is a dead zone for decades. Best case scenario is that they might, and it's a long shot, get this shut down in a few months. A few months, maybe. Do you really think that the Gulf will still be a viable and productive life supporting environment after all the oil and other chemicals are pumped in for a few more months?

So I think that we have to accept the fact that we may have a toxic sewage dump over 600,000 square miles large. We have to accept the fact that fishing and recreation are over. Most of the economic activity that supports the cities surrounding the Gulf will cease. Even the oil industry may have to downsize with our President creating moratoriums on drilling that are already sending the rigs to other countries.

So we'll have millions more people added to the unemployment roles at a time when those roles are overflowing.

The environmental impacts are the great unknown, though. Will the chemicals filling the Gulf be caught up in the rain and dropped inland? Will the oil make it into the Gulf Stream and move across the Atlantic? If it does, will the oil alter the Gulf Stream in a way that changes the weather patterns in Europe, causing a mini ice age?

The person that commented also pointed out that we've had the volcano in Iceland spewing ash and chemicals for months now without any major ill effects. And he/she's right. The thing is, we've just been lucky. Iceland has had eruptions that have caused major environmental and weather disruptions, even being blamed as one of the causes of the French Revolution.

From Greg Neale at The Guardian:

"Just over 200 years ago an Icelandic volcano erupted with catastrophic consequences for weather, agriculture and transport across the northern hemisphere – and helped trigger the French revolution.

The Laki volcanic fissure in southern Iceland erupted over an eight-month period from 8 June 1783 to February 1784, spewing lava and poisonous gases that devastated the island's agriculture, killing much of the livestock. It is estimated that perhapsa quarter of Iceland's population died through the ensuing famine.

Then, as now, there were more wide-ranging impacts. In Norway, the Netherlands, the British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, in North America and even Egypt, the Laki eruption had its consequences, as the haze of dust and sulphur particles thrown up by the volcano was carried over much of the northern hemisphere.

Ships moored up in many ports, effectively fogbound. Crops were affected as the fall-out from the continuing eruption coincided with an abnormally hot summer. A clergyman, the Rev Sir John Cullum, wrote to the Royal Society that barley crops "became brown and withered … as did the leaves of the oats; the rye had the appearance of being mildewed".

The British naturalist Gilbert White described that summer in his classic Natural History of Selborne as "an amazing and portentous one … the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man.

"The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground, and floors of rooms; but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butchers' meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic … the country people began to look with a superstitious awe, at the red, louring aspect of the sun."

Across the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin wrote of "a constant fog over all Europe, and a great part of North America".

The disruption to weather patterns meant the ensuing winter was unusually harsh, with consequent spring flooding claiming more lives. In America the Mississippi reportedly froze at New Orleans.

The eruption is now thought to have disrupted the Asian monsoon cycle, prompting famine in Egypt. Environmental historians have also pointed to the disruption caused to the economies of northern Europe, where food poverty was a major factor in the build-up to the French revolution of 1789."

I don't think that it's hysterical or crazy to ask what is coming. Are the crops and birds dying in Tennessee because of the blowout? I don't know. I do know that it's a possibility and something that I think we will see happen as the hurricane season begins and the storms roll up out of the Gulf and into the heartland. As Americans and as responsible people we need to ask the questions and try to find solutions now while we have the time because time is growing short. The oil is flowing and there is no certain end in sight.

Everything has changed.

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