Posts Tagged ‘Thames’

The sins of BP and “the greatest environmental disaster ever”

August 8, 2010

Thames in danger of impending catastrophe

Father Thames in Victorian England

Considering that the BP oil spill has been designated the “greatest environmental disaster ever”, the danger to the Thames from clumsy motorists has not been properly appreciated.

If we conveniently forget Bhopal and focus solely on the Gulf of Mexico, then spilling about 2 litres of engine oil into the Thames would be equivalent to the concentration of oil in the Gulf.

A very nice sanity check by Raedwald.

(More on Rædwald, of East Anglia here . He was called Rex Anglorum – King of the Angles by Bede but presumably has not been much of a role model for the University of East Anglia – Climatic Research Unit).

The volume of the Gulf of Mexico is 2,424,000 cubic kilometers, or 6.43 * 1017 US gallons. The volume of oil spilt is estimated at 20m gallons to 50m US gallons; let’s take the max, 5 * 107 gallons. That’s one part of oil to 1.29 * 1010 parts of water. The volume of the Thames at mid tide between Teddington and Gravesend is about 2.4 * 107 cubic metres (633 * 107 US gallons, or 127 times the total volume of the BP oil leaked). To replicate the ‘environmental disaster’ , I’ll therefore have to empty 1.87 litres of engine oil into the river.

Over 75% of the Gulf oil spill has now dispersed.


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