Pardon Me If I Don’t Start Celebrating

Skimmed: Oil skimmed off surface. Captured: Oil captured before escaping into the sea. Burned: 400 burning of concentrated slicks moving barrels from water to air. COREXIT Dispersed: Oil "dispersed" by 1.8 million gallos of COREXIT. Deep-Sea Dispersed: Oil "dispersed" at 1500 meteres through a narrow pipe. Evaporated or Dissolved: Oil that disolved in to Gulf of Mexico or evaporated into the air. Data are from here, here, and here. This image is covered under Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA

I’m tired of hearing people say the oil spill isn’t is bad as it could been or we thought it would be.

“A lot of questions remain, but where we are now is ahead of where people thought we’d be,” Safina says. “Most people expected it would be much worse.” -Carl Safina

Let’s not forget those who said we were saved because of microbial degradation.  Let’s all drink a beer for the microbes!

A top scientist studying the ability of bacteria to break down the oil plume in the Gulf of Mexicosays that microbes have been so successful that the oil may be gone.

Pardon me if a year later I’m still pissed.  I created the chart above so people could get some perspective.  Nearly 1.1 million barrels of oil are still unaccounted for and there is some indication that it resides on the deep-sea floor.  Roughly 2.4 million barrels were dispersed either in the deep through the pipe or by COREXIT. Of this 3.5 million, 1.4 million barrels were potentially eating by microbes. And of course there is the 1,800,000 gallons COREXIT poured into the Gulf.  We in the U.S. still consume 20 million barrels of oil a day including ~1 million barrels we recovered from the spill.

So a year later I’m still pissed and am not so ready to say the Gulf is fine.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

4 comments on “Pardon Me If I Don’t Start Celebrating
  1. I never said it was fine. I never said it was all gone. I never said anyone should celebrate anything. I said most people expected it would be worse that it appears to be at present. I do not excuse the companies involved for their reckless behavior. There’s a lot to be angry about. The deaths of newborn dolphins are awful. The human illnesses are worrisome. But, luckily, the destruction was not total, a lot of marine creatures, birds, and marsh survived, and those populations seemingly remain viable. That provides room for hope and encouragement against despair.

    • Carl,

      Given your about face on the matter, and given how much corruption is involved in the oil and gas industry and the buying off of people like Ed Overton, you can’t blame people for natural skepticism in the matter. You went from one extreme to the other, in short order, since the spill. It feels like you’re doing exactly what Overton, BP and their ilk are doing which is: downplaying the severity of the spill and undermining the ability to use the spill as a strong case for change.

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