photo credit: Edison Chouest Offshore
On April 20 an explosion decimated the Deepwater Horizon BP oil well 50 miles off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. It killed 11 and injured 17, four critically. The explosion that occurred released oil from the deepest part of the Gulf in a hot oil volcano, presenting unprecedented containment problems. Initially, the explosion attracted little attention but as the oil continued to gush, heads perked up and brows suitably wrinkled. A few days later, the magnitude of the problem became apparent:
April 22: Gulf oil rig run by BP explodes, sinks: massive spill threatens entire Gulf shore
April 29: Obama sends SWAT teams to Gulf Oil Rigs
April 30: Second Gulf oil rig tragedy: overturns near Morgan City LA
April 30: No relief in sight as oil spill reaches LA shoreline:
April 30: Leaked secret government report: Government fears Deepwater Horizon well could become unchecked gusher “A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster in the Gulf makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf.”
The issue now is a tragedy not only for the oil rig workers and families, not only for the Gulf Shore states, not only for the United States, but for the world. How can an oil rig explosion have worldwide implications? And further, how does it fit into the warnings about trouble in the end times?
Of course, the environmental damage is heartbeaking. Ten species are already at risk. “North Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: The Great Bluefin Tuna, prized for sushi and sashimi, is one of the species most in danger of slipping into extinction. Traveling down across the Atlantic seaboard, bluefin tuna spawn in the Gulf of Mexico between mid-April and mid-June.” The predicament for the tuna is the same for many other species: the grasses along the Gulf shoreline provide nursery habitat for the eggs and spawning fish.When the oil coats the grass it will kill it.The timing of the spill is also part of the problem not only is it spawning season, but the migratory birds that travel from the north to south America rest along these shores also. Beach-nesting and migratory shorebirds are at risk. Those that build their nests on the ground and feed on invertebrates are susceptible to oil on the beaches. Some migratory shore birds fly nearly the length of the Western Hemisphere and use barrier islands in the Gulf for key resting and refueling spots on their journey as well as migratory songbirds — warblers, orioles, buntings, flycatchers, swallows and others. There are roughly up to 5,000 dolphins in the Gulf area between the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts and the oil rig, many giving birth right now.
The Gulf accounts for a fifth of U.S. commercial seafood production — including 75 percent of our shrimp. The crude that enters the coastal estuaries areas will cause “a dramatic drop in seafood recruitment, possibly for years to come,” says George Crozier, executive director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. This is already “the worst case scenario for shrimpers, oyster harvesters, crabbers — all the commercial fisherman,” says fishing boat charterer Brent Roy. The Baltimore Sun is more blunt, they just said “ecological devastation”: “The oil that began washing ashore Friday in Louisiana could devastate one of the richest coastal ecosystems in the country and cripple a major source of the nation’s seafood, a top Maryland scientist warned Friday.” So seafood will become scarce, and expensive. This, already in the face of US food inflation spiraling out of control. Fresh and dry vegetables prices are up 56.1% over last year, in one example.
“The biggest grain-shipping port in the U.S. may be disrupted by the spread of the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening to depress domestic prices by encouraging importers to buy from South America. More than half of the grain inspected for export from the U.S., the world’s largest grower of corn and soybeans, is shipped from the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the Port of New Orleans.”
In an already poor region, “As oil begins flowing ashore from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico, coastal communities from Louisiana to Florida are bracing for what could turn out to be an unprecedented and long-lasting economic disaster for the region.” London Times reports, “The cost to Louisiana’s fishing industry could be $2.5 billion (£1.6 billion) while the impact on tourism along the Florida coast could be $3 billion, according to Neil McMahon, an analyst at the investment firm Bernstein.” Like the current economic disaster isn’t enough… more losses in an area ill-prepared to wait it out. Six states are in declared emergencies and the National Guard has been called out in LA to fight the spill.
And there’s this as-yet little discussed impact:
The news reports say that it may take weeks to months to cap the well that is 210,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf each day. Hurricane season starts June 1. “The strong winds in hurricanes, sweeping across the surging waves they have created, such up a considerable amount of surface water and blow it inland. This time, however, those winds could also end up picking up a considerable amount of the oil slick floating on the sea’s surface, which would be deposited as rain well inland, damaging croplands and forests, too.” Think about it- What happens when you mix oil with salty water? It results in a mayonnaise like light foam, an emulsion. A lot of foam can be created from a small amount of oil. The emulsion could become easily airborne under high winds. As the hurricane makes landfall, the oil foam would be plastered on everything for hundreds of miles . When trees, grasses, plants, animals, ect get pounded with the foamy winds they will get a thin layer of oil. That thin layer of oil mixed with sea water will kill any vegetation. Normally Texas receives its first tropical storm on average around June 6.
“The following is not public,” reads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Emergency Response document dated April 28. “Two additional release points were found today in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought. Asked Friday to comment on the document, NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen said that the additional leaks described were reported to the public late Wednesday night. Regarding the possibility of the spill becoming an order of magnitude larger, Smullen said, “I’m letting the document you have speak for itself. In scientific circles, an order of magnitude means something is 10 times larger. In this case, an order of magnitude higher would mean the volume of oil coming from the well could be 10 times higher than the 5,000 barrels a day coming out now. That would mean 50,000 barrels a day, or 2.1 million gallons a day.
God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the earth and the authority to rule over the animals. “God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Man, have we ever messed up creation. And have we ever messed up spiritually. There are two truisms, and they are absolute: God always judges nations’ sins, and God does have a point at which there is no return, when judgment is sure and imminent. I’ve written about national sin and judgment twice recently. Just a few weeks ago, I posed the question, “Has America’s point of no return been reached?” In that article, I explored the biblical concept of national sin and judgment; and under what condition that judgment occurs. America was the blessed nation, the city upon a hill, and in the article I wrote in September, I explored the background to America’s original commission and its peril in going away from it.
It is impossible to understand all the ramifications of this unfolding tragedy. It is clear that there are many. It is not for me to say whether this disaster is a judgment or not. However, knowing that America was founded on a golden commission, that we have abandoned it for sin, destruction, perversion, idolatry, profanity, immorality, and violence on a national scale, and knowing that God always judges these things when the point of return has been reached, it is logical to assume that our troubles from this disaster have only begun!
We as Christians can be Light and Salt in a fallen world. Pray for the leaders who are dealing with this disaster, that they themselves would pray, not for success in cleaning up the oil or that businesses don’t suffer, but for repentance! And pray that if repentance does sweep over the states and the nation, that it is not too late.