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BP Oil Spill Could Have Drastic Financial Effects

Have you ever seen the sci-fi horror flick, The Blob? It's a gooey alien-like creature that spreads all over the place and destroys everything it touches. Yes, just like an oil spill!

In addition to taking away 11 lives, the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an environmental disaster; is affecting travel and tourism in the coastal areas; and crippling the already struggling Louisiana's 2.4 billion dollar a year commercial and recreational fishing industry.

The chief executive of BP, the British oil giant, insulted the intelligence of the people affected along the Gulf Cost by telling Sky News about his belief that the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill will end up having only a "very, very modest" environmental impact.

This kind of disaster creates a domino effect. Marine life gets hurt and cripples the fishing industry in the process, which will lead to an economic turmoil. So how can it have a very, very modest environmental impact? Here are the things that may happen or are already in effect.

Marine life is in danger. Pollutants can smother and kill corals or stop their ability to reproduce and grow. This could affect marine ecology dramatically. The oil spill could also devastate the Gulf bird population. Oil causes feathers to mat and this will make the birds vulnerable to hypothermia, less water proof and buoyant, and flightless (leaving them defenseless against predators). Preening their feathers will make them swallow oil which may lead to internal damages followed by death.

Fishes will die too due to internal damages once they swallow oil even in small amounts. Big fishes will be poisoned by eating small fishes contaminated with crude oil. And us human beings can be poisoned as well if we feast on contaminated fishes.

Scientists are also afraid that the oil spill may reach the loop current. The loop current will be responsible for transporting the oil away from the Louisiana Coast toward the Florida Keys. This could endanger Florida's sea grass beds, mangroves, and the third-longest barrier reef in the world, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which is 221 miles long.

US economy is deeply affected. Recently, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries chief Robert Barham ordered the "emergency closure of shrimp harvesting" in waters from the South Pass of the Mississippi river to the eastern shore of the Four Bayou's Pass. Importation of cheaper frozen shrimps from China and other Asian countries already crippled Louisiana's shrimp industry. The emergency closure of shrimp harvesting is like a death blow to them.

Travel and tourism have already felt the impact caused by the oil spill in and around the coastal area. Resorts revealed that no bookings were being made or they are simply being canceled. Because of the fear that the oil slick will reach the coasts of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, or beyond is discouraging some travelers from planning trips to the areas mentioned above. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary alone draws millions of snorkelers, fishermen, and other tourists.

It was also announced that BP gave grants worth $70 million to promote tourism in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. Proving that the tourism and travel industry -- worth billions of dollars -- was greatly affected by the tragedy.

Impact around the globe. I believe that the US is not the only country that will feel the blow of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Now that the dangers of offshore drilling are quite obvious, approval of similar oil exploration projects is going to be difficult around the world. With less oil and higher demand, prices may increase in the future.

As you can see the recent oil spill's effect is not short term. Cordova, Alaska is still struggling after the Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million US gallons of crude oil at Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef in 1989, known as the worst oil spill in the US territory. Experts predict that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which is now as big as Maryland, may surpass the Exxon Valdez tragedy if they can't stop the spewing of oil, soon.

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