Could the Largest Oil Drilling Catastrophe Also End up the Largest Natural Gas and Climate Disaster in Recent History?
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What are the environmental repercussions of natural gas unnaturally dislodged in the Gulf last month? Dislocation of the methane crystals abundant in the deep ocean could cause disasters such as tsunamis on "a scale inconceivable...outside of a Hollywood special-effects blockbuster," according to UK climatologist Hadrian Jeffs, a chilling note on recent tsunamis and earthquakes in much drilled seas. Could the methane erupting today in the Gulf provoke additional single and sequential disasters? How much could it hasten the "runaway global greenhouse effect" that hovers as the planet warms? Could the largest oil drilling catastrophe ever also end up the largest natural gas and climate disaster in recent history?
The Department of Energy has been supporting methane hydrate R&D for a decade, and in Canada and Japan exploratory drilling for methane is already under way. Since the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster, energy blogs (like greeningofoil.com!) are abuzz with methane hydrate talk, not to lament or warn but to champion a bold advance on this new frontier of the allegedly greener fossil fuel of natural gas. an As the clean claims for deep shale drilling for natural gas are proving untrue with mounting incidents of fracking-related air and water contamination, illness, explosions, and even earthquakes, the latest "alternative" carbon is poised to pounce.
As the Gulf floor still spews oil and gas, the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act proposes continued offshore drilling and aggressively advances natural gas production as well as R&D to "level the playing field" for the "cleanest fossil fuel." Every hour our leaders spend promoting and protecting the oil and gas industry, the environment degrades still more. That solutions to Earth's energy and environmental crises lie in sun, wind, and tide should be as clear as the waters of the Gulf of Mexico once were.
Nora Eisenberg is the director of the City University of New York's fellowship program for emerging scholars. Her short stories, essays and reviews have appeared in such places as The Partisan Review, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times and Tikkun. She is the author of three highly acclaimed novels. Her most recent novel, When You Come Home (Curbstone, 2009), explores the the 1991 Gulf War and Gulf War illness.