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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hurricanes and Oil Spills

What will happen when the first hurricane barrels through the Gulf and into the panhandle? I'm not the only one who has been thinking about it. There are many others speculating on the mix of hurricane and oil spill.

Some scientists say the oil might make a hurricane worse by creating a warmer environment for it to breed and strengthen. I don't buy this theory. If anything, I think the sheen/slick on the surface will tend to lessen the strength of a hurricane by diminishing wave action and keeping Gulf waters from feeding energy back into the cyclone.

Other scientists say the intense wind and storm activity might help break up the oil faster. I don't buy this theory, either.

Most scientists who have commented on this agree that it will drive oil farther inland, further exacerbating an already bad situation for coastal wetlands.

[Here's an NPR story on it.]

Meanwhile, I see an additional problem. I think a hurricane in the Gulf right now will turn the surrounding air into an aerosol. Like emptying a few cans of WD-40 into your garage.

When I was in college, I was part of a group of physics students researching the amount of iodine in milk. Cows get their iodine from several sources, supplements to their feed and eating grass. I can't remember the date but it was in the late seventies. The Chinese tested an A-Bomb and the explosion sent up a radioactive cloud of debris that circled the globe for 4 days before raining out over the Northeast. We went out after the rain event and tested milk samples at farms. All the cows that had been feeding in the field, the vast majority of them, were producing milk with high concentrations of radioactive Iodine. These isotopes of Iodine had rained out and accumulated in the grass, and the cows processed it in their milk. The amounts were scarcely below the toxic levels. In other words, they were just below recall levels.

So, my feeling is that probably the real harm is in the rain-out (rain is not as refreshing as it used to be), and, depending on the hurricane track, it could effect crops. I would stay indoors during a rain event resulting from a hurricane's landfall this year. And I would avoid eating corn and soy beans and avoid eating foods or drinks utilizing corn and soy products. Yes, this means all sodas using corn syrup and all milk or creme substitutes.


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