The BP oil spill is now considered the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The gush has produced an oil slick that covers about 2,500 square miles of ocean in the Gulf of Mexico. Countless people, plants and animals have been affected. Even if you don’t live near the Gulf, this horrific disaster will hit home in a number of ways. After the jump, just a few reasons you should care.
- Scientists and space agencies have determined that the oil has reached the Loop Current, which flows around the Gulf of Mexico and eventually becomes the Gulf Stream. Because of this, oil has reached the Florida Keys. Unless your vacation plans involve picking up blobs of oil off Pensacola Beach, steer clear. [Examiner]
- Oil on beaches is uniquely dangerous to women and children. The stuff can cause deformities, birth defects and endocrine problems in a developing fetus. Newborn babies need to stay away too because their immune systems are weak and crude oil contains lots of contaminates. Even if you aren’t a mommy-to-be or a newborn, we suggest you find a different body of water to hang by, because oil can give anyone cancer and neurological damage. [Examiner]
- If a hurricane happens in or near the affected areas, oil will be carried inland via water droplets. Not only is this totally gross, but it will mess up rice and sugar plantations. The oil could also spread to wetlands and even bodies of fresh water. Eek! [CS Monitor]
- Today, 86 people in Louisiana and Alabama were reported to be sick as a direct result of the oil spill. Not only is the diesel itself really bad for everyone, workers are using chemical dispersants to clean up the mess and that’s affecting them too. Cleanup and rig workers are suffering from throat irritation, cough, chest pain, headaches and shortness of breath. [Democracy Now]
- Endangered species, including Louisiana’s state bird—the brown pelican—plus sea turtles and whales, are now in even more trouble because of the spread. It’s likely that fish nurseries, which are very valuable, will be affected when the stuff gets pulled into harbors, estuaries and waterways. I bet pretty soon we’ll start hearing that certain fish are off-limits for consumption and that some of our fave water creatures are no more. [CS Monitor]
All I can say is that this mess is bad. Very, very bad and extremely sad.