Our Resilient Earth
The BP oil spill may well be the worst environmental disaster in history. Yet it was not the planetary catastrophe some predicted it would be.
In May 2010, experts warned that the Deep Water Horizon rig blowout would cause "irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, north Atlantic Ocean, and beyond." But a surprising thing happened on the way to the apocalypse. Bacteria gobbled up the oil so fast that by August, the underwater oil plume became "undetectable."
A study published today in ScienceExpress reports that bacteria also made short work of the massive volumes of methane (natural gas) released when the BP well exploded. This is good news not only for Gulf Coast eco-systems. It also further undercuts the credibility of a popular global warming doomsday scenario.
Some warmists warn that rising ocean temperatures will melt frozon methane crystals (known as "clathrates") on the deep ocean floor. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. So the fear is that warming will cause even more warming, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect. However, ice core data show no evidence of clathrate melting during the Last Interglacial Period, when the world was warmer than it is today.
Maybe back then the clathrates never melted. Or maybe they did but, as in the case of the BP blowout, the sea bugs ate the methane before it reached the surface.