I have sort of made it my life’s goal not to know too much about anything. I have always found it best to know a little about a lot rather than a lot about a little. Then I can strike up a conversation with someone, find out what they know a lot about, throw out what little I know about it and they begin speaking at length about it. So long as the subject is interesting, the expert and I can talk all night. I leave educated and he or she leaves feeling smart. It’s perfect for both of us. Everyone likes to talk about their field.

That said, what I and everyone else have been talking about recently is oil drilling. Even in my most novice opinion, the more I learn about oil drilling and the massive geological, economic, political and environmental scope of it all, I become more and more terrified. Even with a keen awareness of the hyperbolic, I am convinced it will eventually lead to disaster after disaster of every sort. Not groundbreaking thought I know.

But I think it’s the geology of the entire thing that is most concerning, because that’s where many extinction-type events begin and end – with the crust of the Earth. Yes, I wrote extinction. This whole thing has got me in a fatalist state of mind. Thinking of this well, in this spot, at this place in time and putting it in the context of all the wells that have ever been drilled across the Earth and all the wells that will be drilled before supply runs out, it’s a testament that Armageddon hasn’t happened yet. We have some amazing scientists and engineers on this planet. But they can’t save us. Because some of the most irresponsible fucks are in charge of the whole thing. It confounds even the most critical thinkers (many of whom are in agreement that we are fucked.)

Back to my ignorance though. I really didn’t have an understanding of just how much pressure fossil fuels put on the Earth. I realize this should have been evident after watching reel after reel of old footage showing oil spewing out of wells and celebrating prospectors but, it really didn’t sink in I guess. Yes, those well fires during the first Gulf War should have made it abundantly clear as well. But I was trying to get LAID around that time. I was not reading the news. But now, finally I understand. So I can’t help but wonder how long it’s going to take before something much worse than this little disaster we have in the Gulf of Mexico results from our poking little straws into a pressure cooker. The thought of toying with pressures so strong just seems goofy. I know, we have no choice. We don’t want to walk to work. I’m not looking to blame anyone here. I’m just trying to look at this whole thing from a forward thinking perspective. Like an alien professor asking his or her students, “So who can tell me what led to the Earthlings demise?”

And this might sound very ignorant but what is happening under the crust of the Earth (particularly in the Gulf and Middle East) when billions of barrels of oil are removed, refined and burned? Am I correct in thinking that there are huge underground caverns under the Earth? Someone help me out here. Can I get an expert?

Every English teacher and editor I had in my short academic life would say it’s probably poor writing to state how unqualified the writer of an article is throughout said article. I’m not trying to fool anyone here. I’m speaking from my gut. It’s just too damn poetic that extinct plants and animals from millions of years ago will render the extinction of life forms millions of years later. Maybe the next generation of intelligent life will continue the cycle.

Not really sure what I’m trying to say and a good writer would probably ditch this whole post. I guess I am terrified. Not so much about the spill in the Gulf. I’m sure it will be plugged. Relief wells are almost there. By the end of this month they say. It’s more terrifying when the scope of energy dependence on fossil fuels is really placed in context, when all the elements are placed together and the variables are all put together…

geology+ecology+ideology+economics+energy+population+dependence+terrorism+greed …

There is so much that can go wrong. It only takes one thing.

And then they are talking about the possibility of a hurricane hitting this thing. Let me save yall the speculation. A hurricane WILL hit this thing. I guarantee it. “It’s the way God wants it to be.” That’s a Ray Nagin quote to end this thing.

7 Responses to “A Stream of Conciousness Post About My Ignorance, Geology, Alien Education, Getting Laid, Getting Fucked (Not The Same Thing) and T.E.O.T.W.A.W.K.I”
  1. Maitri says:

    Geologist checking in. First, take a deep breath. Let it out. Smell the CO2 and carcinogens? You’re more likely going to die of that and water wars than anything earth-crust-related. Also major Earth extinction events to date have been created by catastrophic events such as meteors, ocean anoxia and excessive volcanism.

    What is happening under the crust of the Earth (particularly in the Gulf and Middle East) when billions of barrels of oil are removed, refined and burned? Am I correct in thinking that there are huge underground caverns under the Earth? Someone help me out here. Can I get an expert?

    There are not huge underground caverns under the earth, except in some areas where limestone is the (or part of the) bedrock. This is known as karst topography/geology, like Mammoth Caves in Kentucky. The worst thing that can happen here is the limestone erodes due to underground rivers or excessive drilling of water and oil wells and houses to entire subdivisions fall into giant holes that are 10s of feet deep, like has happened in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other places in the world including midwestern America and southern California. This will not happen in southern Louisiana or Alaska.

    Refining and burning spoil the water and air. Nothing to do with earth’s crust. Also, the crust is 25 miles thick and the deepest well is only 3 miles deep. For the most part, we really occupy the surface and maybe 0.5 mile into the earth at best. Geology is not something we affect.

    I’d worry more about the human factors of excessive consumption, fuel depletion, water depletion, air pollution and starvation. And a very slow, gory death a la Cormac McCarthy instead of something that killed the brachiopod and tyrannosaur.

    (Also, quit watching 2012 if that’s what you are doing. :-) John Cusack should be ashamed of starring in that piece of shit. The earth doesn’t break like that. Dumbasses.)

  2. Chop says:

    Your only real concern for collapse around Louisiana is around salt domes.
    But, I agree with Maitri. Don’t be concerned for the earth under your feet, be concerned about the air and water; that’s the part we can fuck up.

    The other near future concern for Louisiana will be for our economy when the oil reserves here are completely gone. That one is going to be painful and will quite possibly happen in our life time. Remember, oil drilling in Louisiana just started in 1901 and we’ve already damn near depleted everything save some natural gas. We’re not drilling in deep water because it’s cheap, safe, and effective; we’re drilling there because that’s all that’s left.

  3. Varg says:

    Thanks Maitri. It’s that last one, the “excessive volcanism” that makes me worry about drilling.

    I guess the question I have regarding drilling, not even related to catastrophe, more related to curiosity is, if oil is coming out, what’s left where the oil once was way down there?

    No, no 2012 film or conspiracy, haven’t paid much attention to either. Lived through enough disasters to even worry about watching them for entertainment. I thought after Sept. 11, society would quit getting their jollies watching landmarks get destroyed but no. We seem fascinated with our own demise.

  4. Maitri says:

    Re: excessive volcanism – usually comes from the mantle, not the crust, we have nothing to do with that. Drilling doesn’t trigger anything except micro-earthquakes, which don’t even register on seismometers. Remember that the crust is only the top layer of the earth and that we affect only a small percent of that top layer.

    what’s left where the oil once was way down there?

    Compressed pores, i.e. settling on the order of millimeters. Some seafloor subsidence (like the cones that develop around water wells). Most of the oil we extract comes from porous sandstone. Think a sponge full of water. Nothing to trigger volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.

    Like I said, focus on air and water quality. Forget volcanoes and earth reaction. Things to worry about are ocean anoxia: If the spill is not contained soon, how big will the dead zone be and what impact will this have on the food chain, water quality, evaporation and precipitation and, of course, the air we breathe.

    My family and I have experienced and lived through the Arab oil embargo, the Iran-Iraq war (with missiles flying over our heads), the Lebanese civil war, the influx of Palestinian refugees, parts of neighborhoods sinking into the limestone bedrock of Kuwait, bombings of Kuwait, the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the Gulf war, the fires of Kuwait, the dumping of oil in the Persian Gulf, 9/11, the Afghan and Iraq wars, the tsunami, Katrina, the Flood and now this oil volcano. The world has already ended 50 times and it hasn’t been the end of the world, if you know what I’m saying.

    And, no, people learn nothing about preservation of life, quality of life and living with dignity. Because people ultimately know only to think of surviving the here and now, even when it died a long while back.

  5. Clay says:

    http://iahs.info/redbooks/a088/088020.pdf
    http://mygeologypage.ucdavis.edu/cowen/~GEL115/115CHXXsubsidence.html

    Couple of articles about oil-related subsidence. As a rule, there’s ALWAYS some subsidence, but you may not be able to measure it. There have been some earthquakes and dam failures caused by very, very specific geology and poorly managed shallow drilling.

    The erl-based economy will be running in some fashion or another for a ways to come and there’s still probably about 50% of the oil left, although I’d say that the state probably has about 30 years at current exploitation rates before depletion starts to overwhelm the jobs picture, but that’s only if oil prices stay high-ish.

  6. Varg says:

    Is “current exploitation rates” a real phrase? Because I am going to start using it in many, many different instances. :)

  7. Leland Muster says:

    This is bad especially when Obama is in the process of trying to get offshore drilling approved.

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