Oil spills are inevitable, they are difficult to clean-up and they can have devastating effects on local ecosystems. Here are few examples of oil spills that illustrate the dangers of fossil fuels.
The fossil fuel industry is driving feedback loops that include both melting permafrost and sea-level rise. It is not hyperbole to say that the fossil fuel industry is pushing us towards tipping points that could cause the collapse of civilization.
One of the most devastating oil spills in recent memory took place in the Russian Arctic at the end of May. Melting permafrost is but one of the Arctic feedback loops caused by emissions from the fossil fuel industry. The Arctic is warming faster than the rate of global average warming. In the case of the most recent Russian spill, global warming caused ground subsidence under a storage tank that leaked 21,000 tonnes of diesel oil into the Ambarnaya river and a glacial lake.
Oil spills are commonly far worse than reported many of which continue to leech oil years after the initial spill. In June the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline sprung a leak in Abbotsford. The company was quick to claim that the spill was contained but the Wilderness Committee, released aerial photographs that appear to show oil spreading over the Sumas aquifer. This is the 80th time the pipeline has spilled. The pipeline was acquired by the Canadian federal government after it agreed to pay Texas energy giant Kinder Morgan $4.5 billion in 2018 for its Canadian assets. The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project is a $12.6-billion carbon bomb paid for by Canadian taxpayers.
One of the most tragic recent oil spills took place in Mauritius which is one of the island countries that are at risk from sea-level rise due to climate change. They are also struggling with a coronavirus outbreak. In August a ship hauling 4,000 tons of fuel off the coast of the Indian Ocean island ran aground in environmentally sensitive waters. This spill forced the government to declare a state of environmental emergency. “We are in a situation of environmental crisis,” the environment minister of Mauritius, Kavy Ramano said.
Tons of diesel and oil are now leaking into the water, Greenpeace Africa’s climate and energy manager Happy Khambule said in a statement. “Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius’ economy, food security and health,” Khambule said.
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Top 25 Oil Spills Over 1000 Tonnes in the Last Decade
The Dangers of Transporting Fossil Fuels
Partial Summary of Oil Spills in 2016
Summary of Fossil Fuel Spills in 2015 (Videos)
Oil Spill in Peru is a Life Threatening Emergency for Local Indigenous People (Video)
Three of the Most Destructive Tanker Oil Spills in History
Unstoppable Oil Leak at a Tar Sands Production Site in Alberta
Pipelines and Oil Spills in Alberta Canada
Two More Reasons to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels