By Alex Haro
With the early onset of hurricane season and the disastrous mess in the Gulf, it’s difficult to escape from the bad news, but there is a glimmer of hope on our oil stained horizon.
The high winds that radiate from the storm could help by evaporating the crude faster. Waves churned up by Alex could help by breaking the slick into smaller slicks, which are then devoured by tiny organisms. The Gulf of Mexico plays host to microbes called Vibrio parahaemolyticus that, while give us humans a reason for Pepto Bismol, actually eat oil. If these little guys weren’t floating around, our ocean would be covered in a thick film of naturally seeping oil. But the microbes can’t feed off of spills the size of the current one, so they just nibble on the edges.
“It turns out that a big, powerful hurricane just disperses everything and the oil breaks up and degrades more quickly,” said President Obama in an interview with Larry King. An example of this occurring was back in ’79, when Mexico’s Bay of Campeche was almost destroyed by the Ixtoc spill. Hurricane Henri, while hampering short-term cleanup operations, actually turned out to be a huge help in the long run, breaking up the spill and scouring the Mexican beaches.
So, while we watch one of the greatest man-made disasters in American history unfold, it’s nice to feel as though Mother Nature might still have our back, even after decades of trying our best to destroy her.