Whether or not the United States of America should venture into the deep sea oil drilling has been a subject of debate among citizens and leaders. It is a controversy that has caused quite a stir in the political waters of many nations across the world, especially the American states. The opposing parties have advanced various reasons in favor of their views. What brings about the confusion on whether or not to try the idea is the fact that the reasons put across by the opposing parties, are equally valid (Allen, 2009). They bear the same intensity of sense. Those against the idea have cited environment as the key factor to be considered. They have advanced various arguments touching on almost all critical areas of the environment. Those holding contrary opinions have cited the need to have gasoline prices reduced. Their reasons revolve around the economy. In essence, it looks like a war between the environmentalists and the economists. This paper seeks to establish the various pros and cons of the idea of deep sea oil drilling.
Deep sea drilling, according to the experts in the field of economics, is expected to bring more good than harm. They argue that for instance venturing in to this idea is an economically viable decision as such exploration is bound to offer employment opportunities to thousands of the otherwise unemployed people. As such, they say, social evils committed by those people wallowing in poverty will be kept on the low. There are many social evils associated with unemployment in an economy. Such evils include burglary and robberies as well as prostitution. This is to say that, exploration of oil will be beneficial to the unemployed population, especially the people around the coastal cities and the towns near the gulf.
Besides providing employment opportunities, it is worth arguing that deep sea oil drilling is likely to lower the current high prices of gasoline. Arguably, the deep sea oil drilling idea is likely to increase the supply of oil relative to the demand and this implies an automatic decrease in the prices (Allen, 2009). This point can also be viewed at various perspective. If a country can be able to drill oil from their seabed, them they will not have to incur the high expenses of importing oil. The countries that export oil have formed alliances and business organizations that set the price of oil. The net effect of such collaborations is that the price setting takes the outlook of a monopoly. As such, countries that import oil from such countries bear the burden of the high and exaggerated prices.
Deep sea oil drilling is no doubt a source of energy. Energy is a basic requirement in both homes and at the places of work. Households for instance rely on the use of petroleum gas in cooking. It is rather apparent that in most countries, such gas is cheaper compared to using electricity. The idea of drilling the sea beds in search of oil is a very lucrative idea. Gasoline is used in the factories to power the manufacturing processes. This same gasoline is used in vehicles. It therefore can be said to an essential source of energy. This is energy that is almost basic to everyone.
Traditionally, most societies used firewood in performing many activities. Cooking in the homes depended on the pieces of wood gathered manually. The factories used wood as well. The end results were that the cutting down of trees, popularly known as deforestation, impacted negatively on the environment (Shah, 2010). Such negative effects include the depletion of the ozone layer. Another serious effect of the deforestation process is desertification. All these effects are seen as disasters since they affect human life in one way or another. Deep sea mining of oil does not come with such serious effects on the environment. The oil from this process is therefore a friendlier source of energy. Even so, oil also has detrimental effects that will be discussed later.
Such activities as mining and extraction of oil have always been associated with development and improvement as well as expansion of the infrastructure in the region. The small coastal towns around the oil rich gulfs are bound to benefit from the reliable road networks to be established in order to make possible the transportation of the oil from the coastal towns to the inland markets (Allen, 2009). The establishment of the oil mining companies around the coast is associated with development of various social amenities such classy hotels with such recreational facility as swimming pools, hospitals, prestigious study and research centers and so on. The residents of the area always benefit directly and indirectly from these facilities. Similarly, as part of corporate social responsibility, the companies investing in oil will always engage in some beneficial activities.
Arguably, the deep sea oil drilling is one of the most effective and best ways of contributing to government revenue. Through the payment of taxes, the oil industry will go an extra mile in boosting the government income. The increase in the production capacity of the country results in a higher gross domestic product. A greater the GDP of a country implies a greater National income. This is subject to the stipulation that the deductibles remain constant. An increase in the National income of a country indicates an increase in income per capita. This is because per capita income is arrived at by dividing the national income of a country by the entire population of a country. A rise in the per capita income is associated with better living standards. It is therefore compelling to articulate that deep sea oil drilling will improve the living standards of the average citizen (Shah, 2010).
Domestic deep sea drilling will reduce political instabilities and international stalemates. Apparently the Middle East is the biggest source of oil globally, following the climatic conditions of the areas and the extent to which governments from the region have decided to invest in oil. Unfortunately, the region is characterized by political instabilities and civil strife. These are big setbacks especially considering the facts that these are countries that engage in international trade. The probability that this state of political instability is likely to affect trading partners is almost one hundred percent. To reduce importing such political troubles, the government of an importing country ought to consider domestic deep sea drilling.
Technologies have been invented to reduce oil spillages. This has dealt with the argument that deep sea drilling. It is however a fact that the technologies however efficient have not been capable of reducing the spillages to zero (Allen, 2009). Even so, these technologies have reduced the losses considerably. Finally, it is appropriate to argue that the costs and expenses associated with deep sea drilling are lower and more reasonable compared to the costs and expenses that come with other alternatives such as solar energy and windmills. This is the reason why the governments of the contemporary world are considering this option.
Looking at this option from the environmental point of view, it is one of the most detrimental among all the options of generating energy. Oil spillages from the tankers and pipelines conveying oil from the coast to the inland affects almost all aspects of sea life. In states like Louisiana which accounts for almost thirty percent of seafood in the U.S, venturing into deep sea drilling is extremely dangerous not only to the people who consume such food, but also the billions of creatures that will lose their lives (Ramseur, 2010). Oil that spills on the surface of the water hinders the penetration of sufficient light and adequate oxygen. Where the light penetrating into the waters is insufficient, all the plant species at the seabed will die. This means that even those animal species that depend on these plant species will find it hard to survive. Oxygen is as well essential for all forms of life, both aquatic and terrestrial.
Carbon emissions associated with the oil have been described as destructive to all parts of the environment. It may not be apparent to all people, but those that are well versed with science argue that carbon dioxide has more negative effects than are seen by the untrained eye. For instance, traces of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere react with rain water to form weak acids (Ramseur, 2010). Such carbonic acids react with various things especially the metallic items such as house roofs and vehicles. The reactions result in corrosion and rusting. This are turn out to be unforeseen disturbances for the owner of such property. The acidity also affects the productivity of the soil. As such environmentalists and agricultural experts warn against deep sea drilling.
Deep sea drilling has been found to be a major disturbance to ecological balances and stability of the biodiversity. In an ecological system, the organisms are mutually dependant and live in what environmentalists refer to as quite coexistence. This means that where a disruption affects on one part of the biodiversity, the whole ecological system is affected. For instance, where mining affects the existence of the algae plants at the seabed, the small fish will not get food. Consequently, the bigger fish that feed on the smaller species get affected too. In the long run even those that depend on seafood for both business and domestic purposes get negatively affected. The issue of preserving the biodiversity has been around since time immemorial.
Another serious issue that has raised concern in the global scene is the issue of global warming. In this case, global warming is defined as the rise in the general environmental temperatures due to what scientists have come to describe as the green house effect (Shah, 2010). The emission of such gases as carbon dioxide causes this effect. Hydrocarbons that make up crude oil are the biggest sources of environmentally unfriendly gases. For this reason, deep sea mining is discouraged. Global warming comes with considerably serious effects such as melting of the ice at the Polar Regions. This leads to a rise in the sea level. Consequently, people residing along the beaches are displaced as they face the threat of their houses being washed away.
The idea of deep sea drilling is financially involving. Purchasing, installation and maintenance of the equipment to be used in drilling miles of rock are not as simple (Ramseur, 2010). The equipment required for deep sea drilling is extremely expensive. Similarly, the cost of servicing and repairing such equipment is not within the reach of many countries. Only a few can afford it. And even those that can afford it know that this will significantly impact on the economy in the incident that such a project backfires. Experts therefore advise that before opting for this kind of projects, the country should evaluate the implications and more especially the financial implications.
It is rather expensive to dispose the wastes resulting from this process. Careless disposal of the wastes coupled with the spillages affect the environment adversely. A study on the practice of deep sea drilling revealed that the Gulf of Mexico alone experienced spillages amounting up to one thousand gallons every year (Allen, 2009). This is a very large amount of oil going to waste and causing a twofold loss, that is, the loss of resources, in this case oil, and the loss of biodiversity. In addition to these losses, spillages are one form of pollution that affects the marine life as well as the terrestrial lives.
Other demerits and undoing about the idea of deep sea drilling include: staid accidents, like the one that took place in the year 1969 off the Californian coast, unpredictable outcome and the fact that deep sea drilling will not really reduce the prices of gasoline. Accidents associated with the deep sea are very costly. Human life is wasted, expensive equipments get destroyed, and the chances of salvaging a thing are very slim. The outcomes of deep sea drilling are not known with assurance. Perhaps, this is because the quantity of oil below the bed rock can only be estimated. The accuracy of the estimations is on the balance as it cannot be ascertained (Hunter, 2012). Concerning the argument that deep sea drilling will reduce the gasoline prices, economists have nullified the validity of this assumption. They argue that the prices of oil are determined by very many variables. A change in one of the variables cannot cause changes in price.
In conclusion, it is clear from the above discussion that deep sea oil drilling has many pros and cons. It is clear to see that pros revolve around the economist’s view point while the cons tend to be in favor of the environmentalist’s viewpoint. The economic view has been criticized for not being mindful of the human life, aquatic life and the general environment. The debate on whether to try the idea may seem endless with new ideas coming up each and every day. It is therefore recommended that since oil is a non-renewable source of energy, deep sea oil drilling should be preserved for generations to come. This is the most appropriate recommendation because chances are; the technology by that time will have advanced to the extent of curbing all these negative effects.
Allen, B. (2009). How Off-Shore Gas Benefits The Economy And The Environment. The Backgrounder. New York: The Heritage Foundation
Hunter, N. (2012). Off-Shore Oil Drilling. London: Rain Tree Publishers
Ramseur, J. L. (2010). Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill: The Fate of the Oil. New York: Seven Stories Press
Shah, S. (2010). Crude: The Story of Oil. New York: Seven Stories Press