Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Its Effect on our World
It has been 21 years since the world has experienced a major oil spill. The Exxon Valdez oil spill that happened at Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989 was considered one of the largest oil spill ever recorded, spilling 40.9 million litres of oil into the ocean. Its remote location (considering it was only accessible by boat, plane and helicopter) made it a hard place to access and clean up. The effects caused by the oil spill were devastating, but the question was: could it happen again?
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A boat sailing through the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. You can clearly see the oil slick from above.
The question was answered on April 20th, 2010, when a massive oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, and by the looks of the spill, it just might be bigger than the spill in the past.

A sufficient amount of life was lost during the oil spill, and even now as we speak. The oil began to reach places like Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. The oil spill is directly affecting biomes, such as the tropical rainforest biome, as the oil is an abiotic component that is ruining the ecosystems and habitats in the biomes. The oil will affect plant life; in a wetland ecosystem like in Louisiana and Alabama, the oil will reduce the amount of oxygen for plants, and even living organisms. The oil spill is killing many living organisms, which affects the symbiotic relationships between two different species, and it also affects the predator-prey population.

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A dead sea turtle can be seen here. This turtle was found on the Louisiana shoreline.
Living organisms in a food chain are harmed or affected as well; if a producer is removed or its population is lessened, primary consumers will slowly diminish, and will continue to affect other species as the food chain goes. Because oil is a fossil fuel, it changes the carbon cycle significantly. The oil in the water may discontinue the life of coral communities, which is an important link to the carbon cycle. The ecosystems surrounding the affected area and its inhabitants are quite susceptible to bioaccumulation. The chemicals in the oil might accumulate in an organisms body to a point where it becomes dangerous, for example, the fish and other marine life in the gulf. Dangerous chemicals may also be passed to humans, in consideration of contaminated fish being caught, sold, and eaten by humans.

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A dead dolphin recovered from Grand Isle, Louisiana. It is currently being
tested to see whether its death was from exposure to the oil spill.

In relation to the plants, micro-organisms and animals living around the gulf, adaptation may either be slow or quick to come, depending on the organism. Slow adaptation to the current surroundings will affect an organisms ability to survive in its current habitat, and with slow adaptation and fast-changing surroundings, an organism may find its population down the drain.

The oil spill appears to be slowing down, as the the gushing oil has just been capped. The problems do not stop there, as there are long-term effects in addition to short-term ones. However, the US is making clean-up plans, closing off affected waters, and limiting fishing areas. They're also in the process of salvaging wetland communities, and saving habitats that may or already are affected by the spill. We can only look up and hope that this spill will only make us more aware and more concerned about our ever changing, ever surprising world.

Sources:

"NASA Satellite Views Massive Gulf Oil Spill" Science Daily June 2, 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100504114957.htm>
"NOAA Expands Commercial and Recreational Fishing Closure in Oil-Affected Portion of Gulf of Mexico" Science Daily June 2, 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100507111111.htm>
"Recovery Efforts After Gulf Coast Oil Spill Could Be as Damaging as Its Cause, Wetlands Expert Says" Science Daily June 2, 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100504135520.htm>
"Gulf oil spill attracts investment scams" The Miami Herald June 7, 2010 <http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/06/01/1657702/even-gulf-oil-spill-attracts-investment.html>
"Temple researchers monitoring impact of the Gulf oil spill" Temple University June 7, 2010 <http://www.temple.edu/newsroom/2009_2010/06/stories/Boufadel.htm>
"Obama promises to clean up Gulf oil spill" CBC News June 7, 2010 <http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/05/02/gulf-oil-spill.html>

"BP faces another setback; oil slick threatens Fla." Katu News June 7, 2010 <http://www.katu.com/news/95480384.html>
"Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion" Wikipedia June 7, 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_drilling_rig_explosion>

My thoughts on wikispaces:

I don't really like it. It's very limiting. I'm pretty literate with bbcode stuff since I'm an active forum user, but this limits what I can do in bbcoding. I don't do html coding either, so I couldn't put CSS styles for fonts and stuff. But I guess, if you were to look at at it from a teacher's point of view, it's handy because it's simple and easy to use. As a student, I would say no to wikispaces, but from a teacher's POV, yes to wikispaces.




Describe how climate can be influenced by human activities (eg. Greenhouse gases, depletion of ozone layer)


Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been emitting lots of CO2 into the atmosphere. The CO2, methane and nitrous oxide levels have risen at an alarming rate, and it's due to human activity. Because we've been burning so many fossil fuels, we've upped the CO2 levels to 30%. Methane gas levels have increased by 140% due to livestock and paddy fields. In the last 130 years, global temperatures have increased by 0.6%. Methane and CO2 form a sort of barrier for sunlight, so the sun's rays can get in, but the rays can't get out. This is called the greenhouse effect. If this effect continues to take place, sea level could rise, ecosystems could be affected, continuous extinction of animals could happen, and more.


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What can we do to reduce our levels of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide? Well, we can start by carpooling more often, things like getting a ride with a friend, or taking public transportation will help. We can also decrease our usage of cars and take means of transportation that don't use fossil fuels, like the SkyTrain. We could rely on more renewable sources, like solar power or wind power. We can plant a lot more trees, because they require CO2 and they "breathe" out oxygen. We can do so much to slow down the rate of climate change and save our earth while we're at it.

Sources:
http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/climate/faq/how-do-human-activities-contribute-to-climate-change-and-how-do-they-compare-with-natural-influences
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide

http://www.ecn.ac.uk/Education/climate_change.htm