Biology – Assignment Example

Oil spills will have a different impact on wildlife and the surrounding environment depending on: the type of oil, the location, the species of wildlife in the area, the timing of breeding cycles and seasonal migrations, and the weather at sea (Australian Maritime Safety Authority, 2010). According to Fahrenthold and Eilperin (2010) this disaster at the Gulf could not have happened at a worse time considering that this is the time for reproduction for diverse species that dwell along the Gulf Coast. Moreover, the wetlands surrounding the Gulf have the potential to hold on to the oil toxins for decades. But before we go all out crying about the environmental mess of offshore drilling we need to look at why it has to happen in the first place.
The United States requires an average supply of 19 million barrels of oil per day with 12 million coming from imports (Manning, 2010). Given expected global economic and population growth, energy efficiency improvements alone will not be enough in the future. More total energy will be needed both in the United States and globally. According to the American Petroleum Institute (2010):
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts U.S. energy demand will grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2035, with more than half of the energy demand expected to be met by oil and natural gas, as is the case today (p.23).
So the root of the problem is not offshore drilling but man’s increasing demand for energy coupled with a lack of alternative sources. All experts agree that even with the push for renewable energy sources, fossil fuel will continue to dominate the energy mix in the US and globally through to 2035. The paradox of the Gulf disaster is that it has transpired just weeks after President Obama lifted a ban on offshore drilling with the aim to reduce US dependency on oil imports. We are on a catch 22 situation.
References
American Petroleum Institute. (2010, March 9). Energizing America: Facts for Addressing
Energy Policy. Retrieved on 5 May 2010 from http://www.api.org/aboutoilgas/upload/truth_primer4.pdf
Australian Maritime Safety Authority. The Effects of Oil on Wildlife. Retrieved on 5 May 2010
from http://www.amsa.gov.au/marine_environment_protection/ educational_resources_and_information/teachers/the_effects_of_oil_on_wildlife.asp
E&P Forum / UNEP. (1997). Environmental management in oil and gas exploration and
production. Joint E&P Forum / UNEP Technical Publication. Retrieved on 5 May 2010 from http://www.ogp.org.uk/pubs/254.pdf
Fahrenthold, D. A & Eilperin, J. (2010, May 1). Scientists watch for environmental effects of
Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 5 May 2010 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/04/30/AR2010043001788.html
Manning, R. (2010, May 4). Gulf Oil Disaster and Americas Energy Future. New Atlanticist
Policy and Analysis Blog