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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where Did All the Oil Go?

    Yesterday I watched a CNN news report during which reporters were interviewing various experts and trying to determine where all of the Gulf oil had gone. Apparently after weeks and weeks of having millions of gallons of oil pour into the Gulf from a BP rig no one can figure out where it all went after only a week or so of having the now famous cap in place. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised about this since I think it’s a simple matter of arithmetic and I’m going to try to give you a better understanding of why I would say that.

    First, let’s examine some facts. Although estimates vary it appears reasonable to assume that about 90,000,000 gallons of oil were spilled into the Gulf. Now also consider that the volume of our oceans is about 300,000,000 cubic miles which equates to 3,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons or if you prefer 3.3 billion trillion gallons. Now I’m sure many of you have heard about contamination levels reported in food or water and the usual expression is in terms of parts per million or with really dangerous stuff parts per billion. What we now have as a result of the BP spill is a contamination level of about 3.7 parts per hundred trillion.

    So let’s put this in some perspective. I thought it would be most helpful to look at guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the consumption of fish since let’s face it; they’re the ones that live in the ocean. Mercury is considered to be safe at levels below 1 part per million, lead at 1.7 parts per million, arsenic at 86 parts per million, and PCB’s at 20 parts per billion. As a result, I don’t think we should be too panicky about a little oil at 3.7 parts per hundred trillion.

    Another way to look at this would be in terms of world population. Currently there are about 6,697,254,041 people living on this planet. 041, 042, 043..forget it I’m stopping the counter at 041. That means that if people were contaminated at the same percentage as the ocean there would be about 18/10,000 of a contaminated person or one medium size hang nail.

    Or let’s pretend that a car could get 25 miles per gallon running on seawater at the same level of contamination. In order to consume all of the contamination the car would have to be driven 14.8 trillion miles. At a rate of 60 miles per hour that would take 27,739,726 years without stopping to pee.

    Alright alright let’s make it a little more personal and humanistic. Tiger Woods reportedly had affairs with between 15 and 20 different women. Now given that there are about 100,000,000 spermatozoa emitted during each sexual encounter (I’m trying to be polite here) and if Tiger was contaminated at the same level as the ocean he would have to have encounters with 3,700,000 women before he became clean again. To look at this in terms of time let’s assume that each encounter would take 10 minutes which is oddly enough about the same time that it takes to play a hole of golf.  Note that I am only including the actual coupling time and not the time for drinks, dinner, and other preparatory activities. Tiger would have to be engaged with a woman non stop for 25,694.45 days or 70.4 years without stopping to pee.  And, that would assume that he pars every hole if you know what I mean.  In terms of weight, Pamela Anderson or Richard Simmons would have to be on the receiving end, so to speak, of 24,420 pounds or 12.21 tons of Tiger’s genetic material. I’m not even sure if that’s possible.

    So there you have it. I have tried to put the magnitude of the Gulf oil spill in terms that people would be better able to understand. I hope this helps and I hope it let’s you all sleep a little easier tonight. And by the way, I didn’t make up any of these numbers. Check the arithmetic on your own.

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