Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Dope, Less Hope

Brazil has discovered a large oil field a hundred or so miles offshore.

In our post The Fleets & Terrorism Follow The Oil we pointed out that an entire U.S. Naval Fleet (4th Fleet) had been taken out of mothball storage then sent to swarm around the oil fields down in South America, yes, even down around Brazil.

The order to take the fleet out of mothball storage was issued based on some previous discoveries there, before the current discovery, so the 4th Fleet will be there awhile no doubt.

This does not bode well for the well being of civilization in the long run, because dependence psychology will be strengthened, making it all the more difficult to shake the petroleum habit.

Recent discoveries indicate that in the short run there are new dangers to the offshore drilling mania, yes, these mysterious rogue waves are better understood now than they were at any time in the past.

There have been hundreds of cases where oil platforms as well as large ships sank at a time when the cause was considered to be a mystery, but are now understood to have been caused by rogue waves:
Until recently, however, marine scientists dismissed the idea of rogue waves as little more than a sailors' fantasy, with reason — there was little evidence to back it up. But in 1995, an oil rig in the North Sea recorded an 84-ft.-high (25.6 m) wave that appeared out of nowhere, and in 2000, a British oceanographic vessel recorded a 95-ft.-high (29 m) wave off the coast of Scotland. In 2004, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA), as part of the MaxWave project, used satellite data to show that freak waves higher than 10 stories were rare but did occur on the oceans.
(Time, see also The Wave). The new science is having an impact on engineering, or at least it should have:
The fact that rogue waves actually take place relatively frequently had major safety and economic implications, since current ships and offshore platforms are built to withstand maximum wave heights of only 15 metres.
(ESA Portal). The danger to oil platforms is well known now, because it is already a part of history that they are at risk:
Indeed, a 26-metre rogue wave was the principal cause of the capsize of the Ocean Ranger, a drilling rig that sank off the coast of Newfoundland in 1982. The Ocean Ranger catastrophe was the worst marine disaster in Canada since the Second World War. 84 lives were lost. A Soviet container ship, the Mekhanik Tarasov, also went down in the same storm, with a loss of 33 lives.
(Ross A. Laird). Our addiction to petroleum takes us deeper and deeper into danger, but as noted time and again, the governments are only preparing for triage, not being able to kick the dirty oil habit.

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