Life Below Water

Published by Julia Starzinski on

Our blog this week focuses on “Life Below Water” and the effects of California’s most recent oil spill. Additionally, under our new “Take Action” tab, you can find resources to help achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 and simultaneously work to fight the climate crisis. These resources include donations, volunteer opportunities, and personal changes you can make to help save our oceans.

On Saturday October 2nd, 126,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean, spreading 13-square-miles with oil slick reaching from Huntington to Newport Beach. Oil continued to spill through Sunday, resulting in the cancellation of the annual Pacific Airshow, debuting the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. 14 boats were deployed to help contain the spread and clean up the oil, but only 1/40th of the oil was retrieved. Potentially ten-of-thousands of dead fish and birds were killed or washed up on the shores when Orange County California closed Huntington Beach. A report from the New York Times stated, “Mayor Kim Carr of Huntington Beach said at a news conference on Sunday afternoon that the spill was ‘one of the most devastating situations our community has dealt with in decades’”. Orange County Health Officials say that individuals should seek medical attention if they come in contact with the oil, or breathe in oil fumes, as it could be toxic. 

There was news that the leak went undetected until it hit the surface. The suspected company responsible is Amplify, a failing oil company with old pipes. The burst could have been detected earlier with the use of pressure signs Amplify should have had in place.  

Oil spills cause significant and diverse negative effects on our waterways. Spills like this cause rippling effects on ocean corals, biodiversity loss, and specifically reduce the surrounding ecosystem’s ability to sequester carbon. Our oceans absorb about 30 % of carbon dioxide produced by humans and have absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system. As our oceans become more polluted with events like oil spills, and everyday plastic pollution, the effects on our climate are significant. Oceanic oil spills are symbolic of the daily “spill” by humans caused by air combustion that fuels climate change. The interconnectedness between oceans and climate change emphasizes the importance of reducing human-caused pollution in our oceans in order to mitigate the climate crisis. 


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