30 May 2010

Oil Approaching Alabama and Other Bad News

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Oil slick forecast for Noon Tuesday 1 June. Click for full res. ctsy NOAA

Word has it that the oil slick is now just 17 miles off the sugar white sandy beaches of Dauphin Island, Alabama. The ocean currents push the oil and the winds push the ocean. It looks like the oil will be getting very close to the Alabama Coast in the next day or two.

In the summer a large high pressure cell develops off the East Coast of America. Meteorologists call it the Bermuda High. It actually moves around a bit, but it consistently brings a fairly strong southerly flow to the Gulf Coast region. As this high develops the winds will likely spread the oil slick over a much broader area than has been affected so far.

The latest projections from NOAA are hinting at the oil spreading Northward as well.

There is some closely related news worth mentioning as well. Physicist Joe Romm (MIT) has a fascinating guest post on Climate Progress from Craig Severance on Peak Oil. It seems very likely that we have reached it or soon will.

This is profound. If it’s true ( and a LOT of experts are now coming to the same conclusion. The U.S. Defense Dept. as well.) then the World we know is about to change dramatically. With demand for oil rising and the supply falling, the price will skyrocket. Severance says the fact that the easy oil to get to is already gone is why we have the disaster in the Gulf.

Oil Production forecast from ENERGY WATCH

He also predicts that as the prices rise there will be intense pressure to destroy forests and the ANWAR to get every last drop. Even at the risk of more incidents like what is happening 300 miles to my south as I write this post. The crowd demanding cheap oil and cheap food will indeed be loud, but I choose to beleive that a more educated viewpoint will eventually win the day.

What is interesting is that Craig Severance and James Hansen are saying the same thing. We have to switch to natural gas as a stop gap and begin a crash program to convert to sources of renewable energy. Hansen’s book Storms of My Grandchildren is a MUST read. In his book he also mentions Tom Blees’ book Prescription for The Planet. Another must read.

Physicist Richard Muller of UC Berkeley seems to agree today if the interview with him on MSNBC was accurate.

Blees’ book is mainly about the 4th generation nuclear power plants which can solve the problems of air pollution, climate change, and nuclear waste all at once. I find it amazing that this program was canceled by the Clinton administration.

If Severance and the others are right, then the days of cheap transport and even cheaper cheeseburgers are over. (do read his post linked above to understand why). You may not like it but it’s likely true. Covering the beaches of the World with oil and mowing down most of the remaining forests on the planet to squeeze the black gold out of shaley rock beds will not fix the problem or even hold it off long.

We CAN have cheap transport and cheap cheeseburgers, but not using oil to grow the beef and to drive to the burger joint.

The oil economy is coming to an end and if we don’t make the switch to something more sustainable, it will be an economic and environmental catastrophe.