Monday, April 08, 2013


In scientific news this week:
According to some estimates, the [Horizon oil] spill pumped nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of nearly three months, but within several weeks of being plugged, many areas of the Gulf were oil free. According to University of Tennessee researcher Terry Hazen, the Gulf has a "greater-than-believed" ability to clean itself up after an oil spill. He presented his research Monday at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in New Orleans.

"The bottom line from this research may be that the Gulf of Mexico is more resilient and better able to recover from oil spills than anyone thought," Hazen said in a statement. "It shows that we may not need the kinds of heroic measures proposed after the Deepwater Horizon spill, like adding nutrients to speed up the growth of bacteria that breakdown oil, or using genetically engineered bacteria. The Gulf has a broad base of natural bacteria, and they respond to the presence of oil by multiplying quite rapidly."
Well who knew? It's good news though I'm astonished at how much new stuff Science is finding out these days. We find out there's another radiation belt we didn't know about. Then we discover that our environment switches genes on and off. Now this news about natural bacteria being awesome oil eaters. I guess there is not much in Science that is fixed in stone.

Except the temperature. The only thing that Science knows for sure is that the temperature was exactly right about 100 years ago. Now of course, the temperature is almost a little hotter and we're all going to die. But thank goodness civilization lived long enough to find that one exactly right temperature. I hope Mr Obama chisels the number into some sort of monument so that, should humans evolve again from the wreckage, they won't have to waste their energy determining The Proper Temperature and they can get right down to blaming each other about just who is responsible for ruining everything this time.

Well, maybe we've been saved by the natural variation. The temperature hasn't gone up in the last 15 years despite a huge increase in atmospheric CO2, so maybe Science will take notice.  (science actually is taking notice, and the climaticians, climate-politicians, are wildly spinning - let's hope science writers take notice)


Charles Pergiel said...

Near as I can tell, "Global Warming" is just a tag to unite people in a "cause". I am not sure what the ultimate goal of this cause is. It might be a coal and oil tax, which could be a great thing if it replaced income tax, which it could easily do, and which I would support. But it will more likely become just another tax to be piled on top of all our existing taxes. Time for a beer.

Jess said...

Years ago, I was reading an old archive of ship logs as they sailed into the ports of Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas.

The reports noted of sailing through huge rafts of oil, which constantly seeped from the sea bed. The captains like it, because it was beneficial to the hulls.

Of course, that was when nobody drilled for oil. It was only a nuisance and the bacteria loved the constant nutrient.