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The Environmental Effects Of The Oil Industry

3591 words - 14 pages

The Environmental Effects of The Oil Industry

The worst imaginable environmental catastrophe that could occur in Maryland has just become a reality. The lifeblood of Southern Maryland's Watermen has been forever affected. The ecosystems of the Patuxtent River and Chesapeake Bay have been irreversibly contaminated. The Three Mile Island and Chernobyl Nuclear Accidents have affected the world ecosystems; but the Chalk Point oil spill has reached us here in Southern Maryland. The ethical considerations with generating electricity from fossil fuels, specifically oil, has a profound impact on us all. We all use electricity to make our lives easier and more productive. By using this electricity have we given our permission for the oil companies free reign in order to provide us with the service we demand?? Are we just as responsible for the oil spill as the corporate leaders who run the companies? As citizens we are in a position to develop and enforce regulations to protect ourselves. Do we also protect the environment; or is the environment just something for us to use? These and many other moral dilemmas exist for modern man.

The world wide oil industry supplies mankind with many life improving products and services. At the same time these technological advances challenge us with numerous ethical considerations.

Electricity is one of the chief products of the oil industry. We use oil to heat our homes and businesses. We use oil to produce electricity to light our homes and businesses also.

Transportation is another benefit of oil. Of course we all know that we use oil to run our vehicles, but that is not the only benefit. Oil is also used in combustion engines.

The oil industry has a big impact on the environment. These impacts are not always good. Oil spills and contamination of the environment are the largest imediate impact. There are two different types of oil spills: crude oil spills and refined oil spills. Crude oil spills are very sticky and break down much faster than refined oil does. Refined oil is very thin and harder to clean up. Oil spills during off shore drilling are the first spill source. These spills are not the only sources, there are many spills during transportation and shipping.

Clean up of an oil spill is very important and must be done in a quick, effiecient, and ecologically sound manner. What are the effects? What are some response techniques? Is location a factor? What is used to clean up the spills? These are some common questions asked when a spill occurs. There are also positive and negative aspects to consider.

Many oil spills occur at sea. This oil immediately begins to move and weather, breaking down and changing its physical and chemical properties. (1) When this happens the oil threatens the surrounding areas. Animals and plant life may be seriously injured. (1)

There are many response techniques used in controlling the spread of oil...

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