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At the southernmost tip of South America, ten thousand gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the sea off the coast of Chile’s Patagonia, in one of the most pristine areas of the world. The oil spill originated at a terminal on Guarello Island, which lies approximately 1,700 miles south of Santiago. The Chilean Navy confirmed the spill on Saturday — it was reported by CAP mining, who said in a statement that the spill is now being contained. The spill had spread into the South Pacific Ocean where the Navy is currently working to stem it. Despite the size of the spill — approximately 40,000 liters (10,600 gallons) — as of Sunday, some 15,000 liters have been successfully contained.
Why This Matters: It is a terrible tragedy that this pristine and highly sensitive area that is so important ecologically has been damaged by a spill — because there is no such thing as a total clean up. Oil spills will always occur – they are an unavoidable risk when drilling for oil and gas. The only way to ensure their demise is the elimination of natural gas and oil drilling in the first place. And despite knowing of the disastrous environmental effects of oil spills, the Trump administration is making moves to open almost all of America’s coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling – giving companies more than a billion acres off the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts. That is a bad decision and hopefully can be reversed before drilling would actually begin in the ocean.
Teeming With Life: Patagonia is a biodiversity hotspot and an area with limited accessibility. The effects of the spill could be especially devastating here considering the pristine nature of the waters, as well as be much harder to clean up.
Oil spills threaten these communities by blocking light needed by ecosystems through the leftover residue on the waters surface, as well as by releasing toxins in the ocean.
As stated by Greenpeace Chile Director Matías Asun “It is an area of great richness of marine mammals, like whales and dolphins, which could see themselves seriously affected in their habitat given that when coming to the surface to breathe they could meet this layer of oil.”
Why This Matters: This may ultimately about all that oil and gas, but the conflict today is overfishing. China continues to use its military to prevent Vietnamese fishing boats from harvesting in the disputed areas.
We know that rising ocean temperatures are causing fish stocks to migrate to cooler waters, and now we have new evidence as to why. A study by German scientists found that juvenile fish and fish that are ready to mate are especially sensitive to changes in water temperature, and as a result, up to 60 percent of all species may be forced to leave their traditional spawning areas as waters warm.
Why This Matters: Fish populations need functional habitat to survive and procreate.
By Jean Flemma and Miriam Goldstein Historically, the ocean has been overlooked in the climate debate. That makes no sense. Ignoring the 71 percent of the planet that creates more than half the oxygen we breathe and has absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat created by climate change can hardly lead to a complete […]
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