Oil Spill Forces Scientists to Play God With Habitat
<Update: the public interest journalism group, ProPublica, is reporting that the chemical dispersants used in the Gulf oil spill are toxic and "could create a new set of environmental problems.">
<Update: Scientist says chemical dispersants can make the oil spill even worse.>
Scientists using oil dispersal chemicals seem to be playing a juggling match with onshore and offshore wildlife in the target zone of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
They are reporting some success in keeping oil away from shore-based wildlife and the extensive complex of wetlands in which they live. But by doing so, they are forcing the dispersed oil into other creatures' habitat—such as deep water seabeds. Is one harm less harmful than another? Here's how the Los Angeles Times reports it:
Scientists don't know much about the oil's ultimate effect in the deep water, but most agree that it will have a much larger biological effect if it reaches the coast, which is teeming with wildlife.
"You're transferring the pollution, if you will, but under the right circumstances it's probably favorable," said E. Eric Adams, who specializes in environmental fluid mechanics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.