Sunday Roast: April 14th, 2013 – Four Cups of Coffee

Good Morning Zoosters. Tired? I am. So this is what I found for your Sunday Morning reading over my morning coffee:

Having my first cup of coffee, I discovered that being all powerful and so full of yourself doesn’t mean people love you. Au contraire in some notorious cases, including this:

Protesters could be arrested for “alarming or distressing” mourners at the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, a police chief in charge of security at the event has warned. (full story)

In the UK this song is No 1 in ITunes Store downloads. Ah well.

Having my second cup of coffee was my “banging head on desk” moment. I have discussed some Right Wing terrorism in Germany here and it beats me, how the court could have excluded foreign newspapers, especially Turkish ones from this trial. The Verfassungsgericht ( our version of Supreme Court) set things right.

Germany’s top court has ruled that foreign media must get access to the trial of a suspected neo-Nazi charged in connection with the murders of 10 people, including eight of Turkish descent. A Turkish newspaper had filed a complaint. The row had threatened to harm Germany’s image and was overshadowing the trial starting April 17. (full story)

Cup Number Three: It won’t go away, not in our lifetimes. The Deepwater Horizon Spill has caused more damage than BP could ever pay for in damages. Can’t we, please, start taking care of our planet? It’s our home. The only one we’ve got.

Hundreds of beached dolphin carcasses, shrimp with no eyes, contaminated fish, ancient corals caked in oil and some seriously unwell people are among the legacies that scientists are still uncovering in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill. (full story)

That required some lighter reading for cup four. Lest I ruin my day. Are women unrealistic when it comes to  the male of the species? I am, totally, that’s for sure, but here’s some evidence, or not.

Men have long wondered what exactly it is that women want. Some pore over men’s magazines, with their promises of “washboard abs”, for guidance. The more scientifically minded look for experimental data. (full story)

So, now I have my fifth cup, have a peek into the Formula 1 Race, then I am off to Brunch with a friend, we will then discuss what I’ve read over my fourth cup of coffee.

You all have a very pleasant Sunday, sunny happy and warm. See you all later!

This is our Open Thread. Let’s go.

The Watering Hole. September 6th, Arctic Oil Sandwich

The melting of Polar Ice makes the Arctic much more accessible than it used to be and with accessibility comes the greed for oil. Some 30% of undiscovered gas reserves and 13% of undiscovered oil are thought to be under the arctic ice. Now the race has begun. The risk, however, is huge:

Any serious oil spill in the ice of the Arctic, the “new frontier” for oil exploration, is likely to be an uncontrollable environmental disaster despoiling vast areas of the world’s most untouched ecosystem, one of the world’s leading polar scientists has told The Independent.

Oil from an undersea leak will not only be very hard to deal with in Arctic conditions, it will interact with the surface sea ice and become absorbed in it, and will be transported by it for as much as 1,000 miles across the ocean, according to Peter Wadhams, Professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge. (read more)

The exploitation of oil reserves has become more and more frantic. Voices calling for getting renewable energy off the ground were ridiculed when oil was relatively easy to be had, now because those voices went unheard we do not have an alternative at the ready.

This is our Open Thread. Spill! Your thoughts on this and anything else are most welcome.

Why is it the skeptics always have to be right?

source: NASA

I so wished this was over. The containment cap on the Deepwater Horizon well had stopped the leak finally and I was thinking about researching on what could be done to speed along the clean up process and help nature come into some kind of balance again. “Not so quick”, said some, they only say they plugged it. “Wait and see”. And now, instead of posting about the clean up efforts necessary, I am posting about the oil spill and yet another failure.

The Oildrum (who else?) were the first to report it.

Admiral Allen’s letter via The Oildrum:

Dear Mr. Dudley,

My letter to you on July 16, 2010 extended the Well Integrity Test period contingent upon the completion of seismic surveys, robust monitoring for indications of leakage, and acoustic testing by the NOAA vessel PISCES in the immediate vicinity of the well head. Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period. As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed. (read more)

AP reports:

NEW ORLEANS — A federal official says scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane near BP’s busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico

Both could be signs there are leaks in the well that’s been capped off for three days.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement about the next steps had not been made yet.

The official is familiar with the spill oversight but would not clarify what is seeping near the well. The official says BP is not complying with the government’s demand for more monitoring.

So it is not over yet and BP is obstructing again on the issue. Washington’s Blog has a post up on this. And read this discussion about the obstruction by BP , too:

There are 4 alternative explanations for the unexpectedly low oil pressure in the BP well: (1) A leak in the pipe in the well bore; (2) flow under the well between sand layers; (3) a blockage in the well; or (4) depletion of the oil reservoir.

This essay focuses on the fourth possibility: depletion of the oil reservoir. Specifically, BP claims that the oil well pressure is perhaps 1,200 pounds per square inch less than expected because the oil reservoir has been depleted.

The size of the reservoir is crucial in testing BP’s theory. While there are other factors which determine oil pressure, the size of the reservoir is probably the most important. (read more)

What makes me really nervous is the obvious unwillingness of BP to answer Congress’ questions about the geology at the drilling site. As one of our Zoosters (please forgive me, I can’t quite remember who it was) has pointed out a while ago, no drilling will even be considered without a doing geological survey first. So why is BP keeping mum about the findings of this survey? The geology is key to any efforts to shut down the well permanently and compromising the geological structures at the well site would finally make the spill permanent, if it isn’t permanent already.

For those of you, who don’t have the time to read all of the above, I’m reposting the video of Anderson Cooper’s interview with Ed Markey found at Washington’s blog:

Bring out the handcuffs for the BP management and jail them until they comply and then some!

CH4 + 2 O2 = CO2 + 2 H2O and more dead zones result from it

The balanced formula above shows what happens if methane encounters oxygen. It is not a spontaneous reaction, boys wouldn’t need to light farts if it was, but is helped along either by fire, catalysts or by methanotrophic microorganisms which metabolize methane into CO2 and water.  Methane is found in the permafrost environment e.g. in Siberia and, as global climate change warms up those areas, poses a great risk, because it’s 25-30 times more effective a greenhouse gas as CO2. Here those microorganisms live on top of the permafrost ice and are really beneficial.

The permafrost in the Lena Delta begins only a few centimetres below the surface and extends down to a depth of 600 metres. The ice in the polygon pools starts 50 centimetres below the water surface. Methanogenic micro-organisms live directly on top of the ice and convert organic carbon into methane – almost one third of the organic carbon stored throughout the world is locked up in Arctic permafrost soils. However, methane gas has an extremely large influence on the climate: the greenhouse effect of one molecule of methane is 25 to 30 times greater than that of one molecule of carbon dioxide. (read article)

Methane can be found in arctic mud volcanoes like the Haakon Mosby mud volcano, too. And here, as well, the said methanotrophs exist. At the rim of the volcano.

In the central region, scientists discovered a new bacterium species that use oxygen to feed on methane. In sediments of the sulphur bacteria region, the team found a new group of methanotrophic Archaea (archaic bacteria) that form a symbiosis with bacteria and use sulphate to oxidize methane, a process called the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). (read article)

Unfortunately Methane is one of the major components of the BP oil spill, too. A methane explosion is said to be the cause for it.

The deadly blast on board the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a bubble of methane gas, an investigation by BP has revealed.

A report into last month’s blast said the gas escaped from the oil well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding. (read article)

Biologists now found new dead zones in the Gulf (additionally to the existing ones) caused by the above mentioned effect. This discovery offers a good explanation why unusually many fish and sharks are being seen in the shallow waters off the Gulf of Mexico’s coast. The migration of the fish is obviously only the part that we can really see, what we won’t see ist the extinction of all living things in those oxygen depleted zones that are not able to just swim away. Add the methanotrophs to the oil eating bacteria, that will eventually clean up the (then probably dead) Gulf who also need oxygen for their metabolism and we are looking at another facet of the destruction, which may yet reach extinction level after all.