Jaideep Kular
Block: F

Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill: The effects and devestation to the waters of the Gulf
1.1) The Gulf of Mexico is primarily a salt water aquatic biome, full of biotic factors such as Alabama Shad, Night Shark and the Speckled Hind. The oil spill also affects the shorelines of Louisiana, as warm ocean currents carry oil to land, which contains a terrestrial tropical rainforest biome and has an abundance of abiotic components, such as water, rocks, sun, rainfall and hot temperature, which compliment the variety of specialist plants and animals. The unfortunate thing about this spill is that it is unnatural and the biotic inhabitants of the water will have a challenging time adapting structurally, chemically and behaviour-wise to the unusually dirty waters.
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1.2) The fragile ecosystems of both the land and waters of Louisiana have living organisms feeling a direct impact from the affected abiotic factors of the Gulf. For example, with rocks, caves or even plants covered in slicks of oil, many sea creatures and fish will have their habitats lost. Also, the amount of nutrients available for plants and animals to consume will deplete in large numbers, causing a serious stunt in the growth and development of living organisms. This’ll cause a decrease in number of species, population and communities within the Gulf’s ecosystem, meaning biodiversity of spectacular plant and animal individuals will take a huge hit in numbers. Aquatic animals, like shrimp, crab or the almost extinct sea turtle will have their natural breeding process altered in the sense they can’t reproduce or the young will die. Symbiotic relationships, like commensalim between large fish and barnacle might occur more often considering each organism will need as much help as the next. Then again, with limited resources (food and habitat), the Gulf of Mexico will more likely see ruthless competition, predation and parasitism for each organisms own benefit, resulting in over-usage of energy and permanently altered niches.
external image Oil%20spill%20june%2013%20th%202005%20as%20seen%20from%20cupe%20coy%20Rueben%20Thompson-%20Nature%20Foundation%20SXM%202.JPGexternal image galapaguana2.jpg

2.1 & 2.3) A typical food chain in the Gulf of Mexico consists of plankton (producers) at the bottom, followed by fish like White Marlin (primary consumers), pelicans (secondary consumers) and dolphins (tertiary consumers) rounding it out. The food web would extend to phytoplankton and algae in the first trophic layer, shrimp and lobster in the second trophic level alongside sea turtles in the third trophic level and alligators in the fourth and final trophic section. The oil spill affects the energy flow due to a thick layer on the surface of the waters preventing the already bare minimum sunlight from reaching the surface and not allowing cyanobacteria to create carbohydrates from photosynthesis or living animals to carry out cellular respiration. As both sides lack what’s needed for proper growth, decomposers will thrive with dead organic matter all around; they will biodegrade and break down dead organisms though decomposition and detrivores will be able to feed off the nutrients made from biodegradation. However, as oil contaminates the bodies of producers, the toxic substances will bioaccumulate at every trophic level, and at eventually at the top, when the chemicals are biomagnified and the most concentrated, many top consumers will face deadly consequences. Now, the fact the carbon in the oil has a half life of 5730 years, and 5 parts per million is considered toxic to animals in comparison to the oil in the Gulf’s water being 35 ppm, this adds more insult to injury. If vital keystone species such as the alligator (energy flow), sea turtle (breeding/reproduction) and phytoplankton (good bio-indicators) die, ecological pyramids of population will decrease or become unbalanced and the biomass of this ecosystem will drop dramatically.
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2.2, 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3) With the leaked oil in the Gulf of Mexico made up of 85 % carbon, it has a major impact on the cycling of carbon in the environment. Firstly, the short, medium and long-term stores of carbon will contain more carbon than usual, disrupting the flow of carbon in and out of these stores; thus affecting the regular processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration that take place among all organisms. Also, though the amount of carbon is greater in the Gulf right now it means that it will decrease in the future as the carbon dissolves and eventually will become unusable for millions of years as sedimentary and carbonate rock is formed. In addition, warm ocean currents and convection within the Gulf means that the oil, and carbon, could travel through the waters of the entire world, ruining the balance of carbon globally. With 400 birds, 200 sea turtles and 27 mammals dead (this can lead to increase in production of fossil fuel), human activity is to blame. The oil company BP overexploited the precious commodity of oil, from 5,000 barrels of oil to 20,000 being released daily, and now it’s hurting precious wild life, harming habitats and causing contamination to water. BP completely missed the point of sustainability and maintaining the resources and economy for now and the future by allowing oil to leak on the ocean floor. Animals in fully developed climax communities that have an advantageous natural selection will probably be unable to adapt to the oil spill, and a natural phenomenon such as flooding could result in the land of Louisiana feeling a harsh, oily pinch. A form of biodegradation that clean up crews are considering to clean up the pollution in the Gulf includes micro-organisms that would digest the oil. Though they are small, they could do a fine job cleaning up only if they didn’t have to wait for the oil to reach the shore. Also, bringing in introduced species to an area of native species always presents the risk of the species becoming invasive and causing disease, change in niches and major changes in the strength of the ecosystem.
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In my opinion, whatever method of clean up is chosen to cleanse the Gulf of Mexico, I just hope it is quick and doesn’t cause any more harm to the already hurt ecosystems of Louisiana. I know that the mistakes can’t be taken back, but for future reference, make the oil pipes out of stronger material and place them somewhere else where they can cause minimal damage to innocent plants and animals.
Recommended Video: <http://multimedia.boston.com/m/31412073/rehabilitating-birds-along-gulf-coast.htm>

I think that using Wikispaces as a new medium of presenting my work was imaginative and interesting. Being able to show my work to my peers and teacher on the Internet gave it more meaning and importance in doing a good job that magnified what we learned in class. It was more organized, creative and allowed me to think more than I would on a piece of paper. This form of technology was great and I hope I continue to use it in the future!

“Pollution.” Gulf of Mexico oil spill threatens wildlife. June 1, 2010. <http://www.euronews.net/2010/04/28/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-threatens-wildlife/>
“An Overview of Protected Species Commonly Found in the Gulf of Mexico.” June 1, 2010. <http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdf/Protected%20Species%20In%20GOM-web%20version%202-7-08.pdf>
“NWF in the News.” After Gulf coast oil spill, scientists envision devastation for region. June 1, 2010
<http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/NWF-in-the-News/2010/05-05-10-After-Gulf-Coast-oil-spill-scientists-envision-devastation-for-region.aspx >
“BP Oil spill: death and devestation- and it’s just the start.” It could take months or yearsfor the true impact of the spill on surroundings ecosystems to emerge. June 3, 2010. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/31/bp-oil-spill-death-impact>
“Scientists watch for environmental effects of Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” June 3, 2010. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/30/AR2010043001788.html>
“What are Phytoplankton.” June 4, 2010. <http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Phytoplankton/>
“What are some keystone species of the Gulf of Mexico?.’ June 4, 2010. <http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_some_keystone_species_of_the_Gulf_of_Mexico>
“Petroleum.” Combination by Weight. June 4, 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum>
“Could bacteria clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill?” June 4, 2010 <http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/05/11/2896416.htm>
Sandner, Lionel and Fatkin, Glen and Lacy, Donald and Martha, Josef and Milross, James and Naso Karen. BC Science 10 (pgs.8-144). Canada: Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson, 2008.

Pictures: <http://oilpatchresearch.com/images/gulf_of_mexico_oil_platorms.jpg>, <http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1367/1314561855_a3697412e8.jpg>,
<http://sxmprivateeye.com/files/images/Oil%20spill%20june%2013%20th%202005%20as%20seen%20from%20cupe%20coy%20Rueben%20Thompson-%20Nature%20Foundation%20SXM%202.JPG>, <http://www.pacificariptide.com/pacifica_riptide/images/2007/11/15/ba_oil_spill_0299_kr.jpg>,
<http://www.calacademy.org/science_now/images/galapaguana2.jpg>,< http://www.greenexpander.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/00c1ftdr.jpg>, <http://cdn.wn.com/ph/img/0a/16/edca20237d79e2e31a1bdadd15bd-grande.jpg>,< http://pack152.net/AcademicsAndSports/WildlifeConservation/FoodChain.gif>

Topic 5: How do human activities affect our climate?
Though the issue of how human beings and their way of life creating a negative effect on Earth's climate, and therefore, in part, damaging the environment, has been widely publicized, just how does the human population influence climate? Well, there's the increase in air pollution from vehicles and fossil fuels, cutting down of trees and forests, and the formation of greenhouse gases, which all play a huge role in global warming and changing our climate for the worse. Though the future impact of human activities on Earth's climate aren't clear or predictable, it'll be devastating, nonetheless, if this trend continues to grow.

Whether it's the daily task of driving to and from work or school, the distances are long and the major form of transportation for humans is in the form of a vehicle, and has been for the past several decades. The exhaust of the vehicle releases a large amount of air pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, which due to the carbon cycle, is continually kept on the air. Furthermore, since the Industrial Revolution, large industries have been booming around the world, and no matter what product is being produced, fossil fuels are burned. Fossil fuels were made several years ago from the remains of dead organisms, and come in the form of coal, oil and gas. When these fuels are used by human beings as energy to generate power, numerous amounts of CO2 are released into the vulnerable atmosphere. Continuing on, methane is created with an increase in waste materials of humans and livestock, especially in wetlands and landfills, and nitrous oxide is produced with the human use of fertilizers in farming. With all these lethal elements being produced, humans continue to only make it worse with deforestation; a process in which humans log, burn or clear naturally existing forests for the purpose of using wood for homes, or selling it as a profit. The downside of deforestation is that the forests, trees and plants can no longer act as carbon sinks and absorb carbon in the air, nor can they release oxygen to make the air cleaner.

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All of the above-mentioned elements, along with water vapour and man-made chlorofluorocarbons found in refrigerator coolants to molecules in aerosol containers, prove to be a deadly combination of greenhouse gases. A greenhouse gas is a gas in the atmosphere that absorbs radiation and emits thermal energy, and greenhouse gases such as MH4, NO2, CFCs, etc. have the ability to warm the atmosphere up to 5000 times as much as CO2. As greenhouse gases increase, so does the ability of the atmosphere to absorb and emit more thermal energy, which is the main cause of global warming. As the sun continues to let off energy and radiation towards Earth, more and more of it is trapped by the atmosphere and reflected towards the ground, while some can be reflected back into space. As Earth's surface continues to heat up, the albedo (ability to reflect radiation) for certain regions decreases and the ability to absorb radiation increases, which means our planet's average temperature is increasing at a yearly rate. This can cause intensely warm weather all over the world, and with high temperature comes more humidity, and in some cases, more precipitation. This can also lead to more forest fires and areas like glaciers melting, which causes an even lower albedo for certain regions. As ice melts and rain occurs, sea levels rise, causing more floods. The negative impact of human activity on the climate change seems endless, and it is, in the sense that CFC's, the most dangerous of any greenhouse gases, cause more ultraviolet radiation to reach the surface of Earth as the atmosphere's protective layer, the ozone, is depleting.

In my opinion, humans have manipulated Earth and its rescorces for too long to not have a negative impact on its climate, and in reality, themselves. It angers me to think of the damage we've all done and leaves me with one question in mind: As each and everyone kills their own home, when will people's eyes and ears open to the fact that the damage we've done cannot be taken back?

Bibliography: “CFC’s in the atmosphere." Ozone Depletion. Apr 24, 10. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion#Ozone_depletion_and_global_warming>.
“Ozone Depletion.” The Environment A Global Challenge. Apr 24,10. < http://library.thinkquest.org/26026/Environmental_Problems/ozone_depletion_-_causes.html>.
“Human Influences,” ”Sea Level Change.” Climate Change. Apr 24, 10. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change#Human_influences>.
“Causes of deforestation,” “Environmental Problems,” “Atmospheric.” Deforestation. Apr 24, 10. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation#Atmospheric >.
“Effects of Human Activites on Environment.” How Do Humans Affect the Environment. Apr 24, 10. <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/how-do-humans-affect-the-environment.html>.

“Greenhouse effects in Earth’s atmosphere,” “Anthropogenic greenhouse gases” “GWP.” Greenhouse gas. Apr 24, 10.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas#Anthropogenic_greenhouse_gases>.
Sandner, Lionel and Fatkin, Glen and Lacy, Donald and Martha, Josef and Milross, James and Naso, Karen. BC Science 10. Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2008.
Pictures: <http://mrsdlovesscience.com/greenhouse/greenhouse_effect.jpg>, <http://thephoenix.com/blogs/blogs/phlog/greenhouse_gases.jpg>