Oil Spill in Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf oil spill is the world’s worst marine ecological disaster.
The gulf, because it is a shallow (average depth 125 feet) virtually self-contained sea, cannot absorb over 100 million gallons of oil without wreaking havoc on its already fragile ecosystem.
The Persian Gulf is home to a variety of exotic life forms. It has extensive coral reefs, salt marshes and sea grass beds. It supports populations of whales including the great blue whale, killer whale and minke whale as well as bottle nose, spinner, humpback and common dolphins. It has shrimp, mackerel, sardine, anchovy and crab fisheries. It is a sanctuary for thousands of migrating birds.
Future such catastrophes can be avoided if we are willing to acknowledge that: environmental disasters are an inevitable byproduct of war, and that future Middle East conflicts are likely, as the world’s supply of oil begins to dwindle. Oil at the present rate of consumption, runs out in less than 100 years. The vast reserves of the Earth’s oil are in the Middle East. If we stay addicted to oil, we will either have to occupy the Middle East for the next 100 years or periodically face the kind of oil-related terrorism exhibited by Saddam Hussein.
The Department of Energy has stated that if we choose to, 80% of our energy needs can be supplied by conservation and renewable fuels by the year 2010. If we are willing to accept things like electric cars, cars powered by corn (ethanol), solar- and wind-powered utilities, and the development of hydrogen and geothermal power as energy sources, all of which are technically within our grasp, we can move away from our oil dependence. In the interim, we would have to approve of cars which give us 40 miles to the gallon, winterization programs for our homes and research and development subsidies for the alternative fuels industry. Clearly, this new form of energy will alter our lifestyles, but how much worse of a lifestyle change could we suffer than the Middle East war?
ROBERT H. SULNICK
American Ocean Campaign, Santa Monica