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Beyond Ethics: [BP Oil Spill], Shrimp No Eyes

_J__J_ PedantRegistered User regular
edited April 2012 in Debate and/or Discourse
Most people only consider shrimp as entities to be consumed, components of a cocktail. So, there is often no audience with whom to have a discussion about the ethics of these particularly delightful creatures. Given recent reports coming out of the Gulf Coast, though, I think this may change:

Source 1:
SCOTT EUSTIS: We have some evidence of deformed shrimp, which is another developmental impact, so that shrimp’s grandmother was exposed to oil while the mother was developing, but it’s the grandchild of the shrimp that was exposed grows up with no eyes.

Source 2:
The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP’s disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.

Shrimp in the Gulf Coast no longer have eyes. And it isn't just shrimp that were alive at the time of the BP Oil Spill. Three generations later, shrimp in the gulf coast have evolved to not have eyes. This isn't a case of oil being spilled, some seagulls died, and we cleaned it up and moved on. This isn't an accident that created a mess within history from which we can move on.

The BP Oil Spill genetically modified marine life in the Gulf Coast to such a degree that the fucking shrimp no longer have fucking eyes.

Discussing this in terms of how many dollars we ought to fine them is more than laughable. It doesn't even seem rationally possible to quantify this, or even articulate it, in ethical terms. This isn't a finite mess, a limited scope of problems, or even a minor one-time inconvenience.

BP's oil spill caused a species of animal to lose its fucking eyes.

I don't know how to rationally react to this, or how to even frame the beginnings of an argument against it. Do we try to discuss this in terms of economics, ethics, morality? Are any of those conceptual frameworks even capable of fully grasping this atrocity? I'd be curious to know what other people think. Other than just ignoring this, how do you begin to mentally deal with the fact that human activity rendered a species to be eyeless; we cause Gulf Coast shrimp to evolve-away their eyes. How can we even begin to conceptualize the magnitude of this?

Previously, I thought that splitting the atom or traveling to the moon were fairly significant human impacts. But now that we're evolving eyes out of species...

Where do we start that conversation?

_J_ on
Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
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  • Delta AssaultDelta Assault Registered User regular
    Do they still taste good?

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Do they still taste good?

    Would you still eat them?

    They've been exposed to such a quantity of chemicals that their fundamental genetic composition has been modified.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • ArchArch HELLO YES THIS IS BUG Registered User regular
    The BP Oil Spill genetically modified marine life in the Gulf Coast to such a degree that the fucking shrimp no longer have fucking eyes.

    Before this particular bit gets blown out of proportion: Unless you consider epigenetic modifications to be "genetic modifications", no, BP did not genetically modify these shrimp. This is a fairly common phenomena with arthropods- the grandparents are exposed to a stimulant, and it causes changes "on top of" their genome. Essentially, it changes the pattern of genetic regulation present in the organism, mostly through changes in DNA methylation patterns that build up thanks to the strange sex determination in arthropods (that is, it is not just 'have XY chromosomes, then be male'). Things like temperature, pH, and predation (among other things) can all influence the sex of baby shrimp.

    To bring this back though, hands up if you expected long-term fallout from this.

    *raises own hand*

    This is not really surprising, and biochemically and physiologically isn't surprising, and the BP oil spill was wayyyy worse than people are giving it credit for, but this is not "genetic modification" unless you take an extremely loose definition of the term.

    Can we get our alternate energies yet?

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    My guess is that these eyeless shrimp will die off, I can't imagine having no eyes is an evolutionary advantage, and eventually shrimp with eyes will take over again. Either that or that's the end of gulf coast shrimp. Add another species to the Holocene extinction chart.

    It just shows how important it is to have strict regulation and environmental awareness I guess.

    Though if they're safe to eat then hopefully it won't tank the Gulf Coast economy.

    Lh96QHG.png
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Arch wrote: »
    The BP Oil Spill genetically modified marine life in the Gulf Coast to such a degree that the fucking shrimp no longer have fucking eyes.

    Before this particular bit gets blown out of proportion: Unless you consider epigenetic modifications to be "genetic modifications", no, BP did not genetically modify these shrimp. This is a fairly common phenomena with arthropods- the grandparents are exposed to a stimulant, and it causes changes "on top of" their genome. Essentially, it changes the pattern of genetic regulation present in the organism, mostly through changes in DNA methylation patterns that build up thanks to the strange sex determination in arthropods (that is, it is not just 'have XY chromosomes, then be male'). Things like temperature, pH, and predation (among other things) can all influence the sex of baby shrimp.

    Unlike most things, I'm actually interested in the science of this.

    If Shrimp have "epigenetically"..."modified" or "evolved" or "whatever term is appropriate" in such a way that their offspring no longer have eyes...is that a lasting modification? Or does the genome "reset" at some point?

    Also, why would "epigenetic" and "genetic" be different? Is there a simple explanation for why "epigenetic" and "genetic" are significantly different sorts of modifications, in terms of eye-loss?

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    My guess is that these eyeless shrimp will die off, I can't imagine having no eyes is an evolutionary advantage, and eventually shrimp with eyes will take over again. Either that or that's the end of gulf coast shrimp. Add another species to the Holocene extinction chart.

    It just shows how important it is to have strict regulation and environmental awareness I guess.

    Though if they're safe to eat then hopefully it won't tank the Gulf Coast economy.

    It seems like if the chemicals were strong enough to make eyes go away, there would be other modifications as well passed through the shrimp generations.

    I think one of the articles talks about how the FDA is continually testing them.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    My guess is that these eyeless shrimp will die off, I can't imagine having no eyes is an evolutionary advantage, and eventually shrimp with eyes will take over again. Either that or that's the end of gulf coast shrimp. Add another species to the Holocene extinction chart.

    It just shows how important it is to have strict regulation and environmental awareness I guess.

    Though if they're safe to eat then hopefully it won't tank the Gulf Coast economy.

    It seems like if the chemicals were strong enough to make eyes go away, there would be other modifications as well passed through the shrimp generations.

    I think one of the articles talks about how the FDA is continually testing them.

    Indeed, I'm interested in the fallout (heh) of the changes, but so long as they're safe for human consumption I won't be too bothered.

    That sounds worse than it should, as a Gulf Coast resident I'm pretty much constantly pissed at BP anyway, but eyeless shrimp aren't the first horrific thing we've done to another species.

    Lh96QHG.png
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    My guess is that these eyeless shrimp will die off, I can't imagine having no eyes is an evolutionary advantage, and eventually shrimp with eyes will take over again.

    Lacking eyes is actually incredibly advantageous within certain environments. If your surroundings do not allow enough light in, for example, eyes are nothing but a vulnerability. Or, if your environment is simply too toxic, too caustic or otherwise too hazardous to allow for soft & complex organelles like eyes.
    Either that or that's the end of gulf coast shrimp. Add another species to the Holocene extinction chart.

    It just shows how important it is to have strict regulation and environmental awareness I guess.

    Though if they're safe to eat then hopefully it won't tank the Gulf Coast economy.

    I imagine the Shrimp will more or less do fine, eyes or no eyes. In theory they should also be fine to eat, so long as they're not directly contaminated and assuming the loss of eyes didn't come 'packaged' with some incidental change that also makes them inedible.

    TOG Solid wrote:
    If that guy wasn't white he would have gotten popped by so many tasers simultaneously that Marvel could use that as the new origin for Electro.
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    My guess is that these eyeless shrimp will die off, I can't imagine having no eyes is an evolutionary advantage, and eventually shrimp with eyes will take over again.

    Lacking eyes is actually incredibly advantageous within certain environments. If your surroundings do not allow enough light in, for example, eyes are nothing but a vulnerability. Or, if your environment is simply too toxic, too caustic or otherwise too hazardous to allow for soft & complex organelles like eyes.
    Either that or that's the end of gulf coast shrimp. Add another species to the Holocene extinction chart.

    It just shows how important it is to have strict regulation and environmental awareness I guess.

    Though if they're safe to eat then hopefully it won't tank the Gulf Coast economy.

    I imagine the Shrimp will more or less do fine, eyes or no eyes. In theory they should also be fine to eat, so long as they're not directly contaminated and assuming the loss of eyes didn't come 'packaged' with some incidental change that also makes them inedible.

    Basically my thoughts exactly.

    Lh96QHG.png
  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Arch wrote: »
    The BP Oil Spill genetically modified marine life in the Gulf Coast to such a degree that the fucking shrimp no longer have fucking eyes.

    Before this particular bit gets blown out of proportion: Unless you consider epigenetic modifications to be "genetic modifications", no, BP did not genetically modify these shrimp. This is a fairly common phenomena with arthropods- the grandparents are exposed to a stimulant, and it causes changes "on top of" their genome. Essentially, it changes the pattern of genetic regulation present in the organism, mostly through changes in DNA methylation patterns that build up thanks to the strange sex determination in arthropods (that is, it is not just 'have XY chromosomes, then be male'). Things like temperature, pH, and predation (among other things) can all influence the sex of baby shrimp.

    Unlike most things, I'm actually interested in the science of this.

    If Shrimp have "epigenetically"..."modified" or "evolved" or "whatever term is appropriate" in such a way that their offspring no longer have eyes...is that a lasting modification? Or does the genome "reset" at some point?

    Also, why would "epigenetic" and "genetic" be different? Is there a simple explanation for why "epigenetic" and "genetic" are significantly different sorts of modifications, in terms of eye-loss?
    The Wikipedia article answers these questions--"epigenetic" changes do not involve modification of the organism's genome. I would expect these newly-expressed traits to disappear from the population as time progresses.

    In fact, I don't think what you're suggesting--that a mutagenic chemical could trigger the same mutation across an entire population of organisms--is very likely. Mutations by their nature are mostly random; getting consistent results usually requires carefully tailored enzymes, viruses, or the like.

    MWO User Name: Gorn Arming
    StarCraft II User Name: DeadMenRise
  • ArchArch HELLO YES THIS IS BUG Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Arch wrote: »
    The BP Oil Spill genetically modified marine life in the Gulf Coast to such a degree that the fucking shrimp no longer have fucking eyes.

    Before this particular bit gets blown out of proportion: Unless you consider epigenetic modifications to be "genetic modifications", no, BP did not genetically modify these shrimp. This is a fairly common phenomena with arthropods- the grandparents are exposed to a stimulant, and it causes changes "on top of" their genome. Essentially, it changes the pattern of genetic regulation present in the organism, mostly through changes in DNA methylation patterns that build up thanks to the strange sex determination in arthropods (that is, it is not just 'have XY chromosomes, then be male'). Things like temperature, pH, and predation (among other things) can all influence the sex of baby shrimp.

    Unlike most things, I'm actually interested in the science of this.

    If Shrimp have "epigenetically"..."modified" or "evolved" or "whatever term is appropriate" in such a way that their offspring no longer have eyes...is that a lasting modification? Or does the genome "reset" at some point?

    Also, why would "epigenetic" and "genetic" be different? Is there a simple explanation for why "epigenetic" and "genetic" are significantly different sorts of modifications, in terms of eye-loss?

    It can eventually "go back", at least from the other examples I have seen (butterflies, for example, and Drosophila)**.

    The difference here is that the genetic code itself is not being changed, just what parts are...I guess "read" by the molecular machinery that translates DNA into proteins.

    Scott Eustis said it correctly, these are a developmental phenomena we are most likely looking at, and the thinkprogress article mentions "a few scientists" and then makes the claim that these are "mutagenic"....which may not really be true.

    I am not certain these are changes to the underlying genome (which is what a mutagen does in some way), if it is the F2 generation showing these signs. It is just too similar to other delayed-onset developmental responses we see in other arthropods to imply that it is mutagenic without hard evidence.

    If it were mutagenic in the traditional sense, then yeah, it could be changing the underlying code, or again it could just be getting in the way. There are a lot of....faster? ways to get the deformity we see here than a change in the actual code.
    Spoiler:

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    I'm less worried about the mutations and more worried about the bioaccumulation of toxic compounds and their eventual travel up the food chain, which is already happening.

    39kEWYh.jpg
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Maybe this will just end up with oil proof SUPER SHRIMP. Hopefully they won't start looking for revenge (though I guess that'd be a bit of a dead end)

    Lh96QHG.png
  • ArchArch HELLO YES THIS IS BUG Registered User regular
    In fact, I don't think what you're suggesting--that a mutagenic chemical could trigger the same mutation across an entire population of organisms--is very likely

    Which is why I think this is more of some chemical interfering with a regulatory protein or causing some sort of DNA methylation event, not an actual mutagenesis....that and we see this in other arthropods, but usually with things like diapause. I can't find my source, but I read a paper that showed that Drosophila grandchildren whose grandparents were exposed to certain stimuli, would enter diapause after a set time, without that stimuli.

    My point is, this isn't genetic modification like most people generally think.

    But that doesn't mean it isn't harmful and horrible.

  • ArchArch HELLO YES THIS IS BUG Registered User regular
    I'm less worried about the mutations and more worried about the bioaccumulation of toxic compounds and their eventual travel up the food chain, which is already happening.

    Everything is going to kill us :[

  • ArchArch HELLO YES THIS IS BUG Registered User regular
    More to the point of the thread, this isn't really "we evolved away eyes", it is more like "we made an environment so toxic that they became unable to develop properly a few generations down the line".

    And you are right, this is a goddam tragedy...but maybe losing one of America's prized foodstocks will cause more people to finally wake up and take environmentalism serious-pfffffthahahahaha I couldn't even finish that.

    It is a good thing I am not an actual ecologist, or I would have given up years ago.

  • Brian KrakowBrian Krakow Registered User regular
    BP should not exist and its decision makers should not be free men.

  • HacksawHacksaw J Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    We're fucked, and we're not doing anything to stop it from happening. I hope all of you are rich, because poor people are going to get fucked over a barrel by this.

  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    Much of the Gulf is a hypoxic dead zone anyway--the coastal parts have been ruined by agricultural runoff.

    MWO User Name: Gorn Arming
    StarCraft II User Name: DeadMenRise
  • DetharinDetharin Registered User regular
    You know in all those Sci Fi movies they talk about how nothing lives in the ocean, its treated as one big huge dead area, and they never bother to explain why. It is going to be weird explaining to my great grand kids that not only did I used to go to all you can eat sushi and consume mass quantities of tasty oceanic wildlife, but that same wildlife was the direct descendants of our dark overlords who command our thoughts in prayer every day lest they wipe out the surface world in retribution.

    If I was kidnapped, woke up in a lab, told they were going to replace my vocal cords with those of Tony Jay, and lock me in a sound booth until the day I die I would look those bastards right in the eye and say "Alright you sons of bitches lets do this. This one is for the children."
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    One good thing: the fine for breaking something in the US is to either fix it or replace it. You kill a sea turtle? You get us a goddamn sea turtle. You remove all the eyes from the shrimp population? You goddamn put them back.

  • Form of Monkey!Form of Monkey! Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Maybe this will just end up with oil proof SUPER SHRIMP. Hopefully they won't start looking for revenge (though I guess that'd be a bit of a dead end)

    I was thinking more along the lines of a whole team of mutant shrimp that uses their powers to fight evil and to redefine human opinion on what it means to be a mutant shrimp. Only instead of having adamantium claws or psionic powers they're just sort of blind. And sit there helplessly.

    Form of Monkey! on
  • YarYar Registered User regular
    During the climax of the oil spill, I was getting emails from more or less credible people telling me that the spill had actually already set off some sort of chain reaction that would end all life on earth within a matter of days.

    And not long afterwards the news was like, "Huh. Well. Looks like the ocean was way more capable of dealing with this than we thought. Carry on."

    So far I say we're still a lot closer to the latter than the former. I hope you didn't drive to work in a fossil-fueled vehicle this morning.

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Arch wrote: »
    _J_ wrote: »
    Arch wrote: »
    The BP Oil Spill genetically modified marine life in the Gulf Coast to such a degree that the fucking shrimp no longer have fucking eyes.

    Before this particular bit gets blown out of proportion: Unless you consider epigenetic modifications to be "genetic modifications", no, BP did not genetically modify these shrimp. This is a fairly common phenomena with arthropods- the grandparents are exposed to a stimulant, and it causes changes "on top of" their genome. Essentially, it changes the pattern of genetic regulation present in the organism, mostly through changes in DNA methylation patterns that build up thanks to the strange sex determination in arthropods (that is, it is not just 'have XY chromosomes, then be male'). Things like temperature, pH, and predation (among other things) can all influence the sex of baby shrimp.

    Unlike most things, I'm actually interested in the science of this.

    If Shrimp have "epigenetically"..."modified" or "evolved" or "whatever term is appropriate" in such a way that their offspring no longer have eyes...is that a lasting modification? Or does the genome "reset" at some point?

    Also, why would "epigenetic" and "genetic" be different? Is there a simple explanation for why "epigenetic" and "genetic" are significantly different sorts of modifications, in terms of eye-loss?

    It can eventually "go back", at least from the other examples I have seen (butterflies, for example, and Drosophila)**.

    The difference here is that the genetic code itself is not being changed, just what parts are...I guess "read" by the molecular machinery that translates DNA into proteins.

    Scott Eustis said it correctly, these are a developmental phenomena we are most likely looking at, and the thinkprogress article mentions "a few scientists" and then makes the claim that these are "mutagenic"....which may not really be true.

    I am not certain these are changes to the underlying genome (which is what a mutagen does in some way), if it is the F2 generation showing these signs. It is just too similar to other delayed-onset developmental responses we see in other arthropods to imply that it is mutagenic without hard evidence.

    If it were mutagenic in the traditional sense, then yeah, it could be changing the underlying code, or again it could just be getting in the way. There are a lot of....faster? ways to get the deformity we see here than a change in the actual code.
    Spoiler:

    Is there a way to test the shrimp to know which kind of mutation it is? Or is this the sort of thing where we just have to wait for more generations of shrimp to be produced? If they get their eyes back eventually, then it was epigenetic, but if they never get their eyes back it was genetic?

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Yar wrote: »
    And not long afterwards the news was like, "Huh. Well. Looks like the ocean was way more capable of dealing with this than we thought. Carry on."

    The ocean wasn't capable of dealing with it. The oil dispersants caused all the oil to sink to the bottom of the ocean, newspersons couldn't see it any longer, and so they went "herp derp problem solved."
    Yar wrote: »
    So far I say we're still a lot closer to the latter than the former. I hope you didn't drive to work in a fossil-fueled vehicle this morning.

    I walked.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Yar wrote: »
    And not long afterwards the news was like, "Huh. Well. Looks like the ocean was way more capable of dealing with this than we thought. Carry on."

    The ocean wasn't capable of dealing with it. The oil dispersants caused all the oil to sink to the bottom of the ocean, newspersons couldn't see it any longer, and so they went "herp derp problem solved."
    Yar wrote: »
    So far I say we're still a lot closer to the latter than the former. I hope you didn't drive to work in a fossil-fueled vehicle this morning.

    I walked.

    Well, the ocean can actually deal with oil spills given enough time. Oil (while highly toxic to things that are exposed to it) is something that the ocean can break down, eliminate, and the ecosystem will recover.

    The problem is the dispersant. The gulf is a MASSIVE roll of the dice on whether or not the dispersants they used are highly toxic in the long term. If it's not, then the ecosystem will recover in a decade or so (providing we don't keep kicking it over, which we do). If it IS then we will be seeing problems for a long long time.

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    BTW, here's a blog post that has put together links to news reports about ecological damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/2-years-after-the-bp-oil-spill-is-the-gulf-ecosystem-collapsing.html
    Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs “with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they’ve been dead for a week”.

    Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.

    “We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills.”

    Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was “ten per cent what it normally is”.

    “I’ve never seen this,” he said, a statement Al Jazeera heard from every scientist, fisherman, and seafood processor we spoke with about the seafood deformities.

    Given that the Gulf of Mexico provides more than 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, this phenomenon does not bode well for the region, or the country.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    tbloxham wrote: »
    The problem is the dispersant. The gulf is a MASSIVE roll of the dice on whether or not the dispersants they used are highly toxic in the long term. If it's not, then the ecosystem will recover in a decade or so (providing we don't keep kicking it over, which we do). If it IS then we will be seeing problems for a long long time.

    Yeah, that's what I meant in my post; chemical dispersants fuck shit up. Apologies if I was unclear.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • BubbaTBubbaT Registered User regular
    Yar wrote: »
    During the climax of the oil spill, I was getting emails from more or less credible people telling me that the spill had actually already set off some sort of chain reaction that would end all life on earth within a matter of days.

    No, the story was that deep sea drilling could destabilize the methane hyrdrates that lie under the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico. The hyrdrates are composed of methane gas trapped and stabilized within "ice cages", and usually their depth under the seabed helps protect them from destabilization - even if the waters of the Gulf warm (though warmer water temps will eventually impact hydrates, even hundreds of meters below the seabed). However, those hundreds of meters of insulation don't help as much when you're shoving a giant oil drill hundreds of meters down into the seabed.

    It's more an argument over deep sea drilling in general, rather than the BP spill specifically. The part that was relevant to the BP spill was that the BP spill showed that when something goes wrong that far down, human technology is not yet able to respond quickly and/or effectively.

    Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. If the methane from the Gulf were released into the atmosphere, subsequent warming could melt the polar caps, whose permafrost contains huge amounts of methane trapped in the ice.

    However, those methane hyrdrates remain a prime potential energy source, and energy companies around the world remain committed to plans on how to extract them from the ocean floor. Their revenue potential is massive.
    Trapped in molecular cages resembling ice, at the bottom of the ocean and in terrestrial permafrost all over the world, is a supply of natural gas that, by conservative estimates, is equivalent to twice the amount of energy contained in all other fossil fuels remaining in the earth's crust. The question has been whether or not this enormous reserve of energy, known as methane hydrates, existed in nature in a form that was worth pursuing, and whether or not the technology existed to harvest it.

    Last Friday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced the discovery of suitable conditions for mining methane hydrates 1,000 meters beneath the seabed in the Gulf of Mexico. Together with Chevron and the U.S. Department of Energy, the USGS discovered the reserve of hydrates in high concentrations in 15-to-30-meter-thick beds of sand--conditions very much like terrestrial methane hydrate reserves, which have already yielded commercially useful flow rates. These deposits are substantially different from the gas hydrates that have previously been discovered in U.S. coastal waters, which exist in relatively shallow waters at the surface of the seabed and have become a concern for climate scientists because of their potential to melt rapidly and release large quantities of methane into the atmosphere.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22756/

    _J_ wrote: »
    Yar wrote: »
    And not long afterwards the news was like, "Huh. Well. Looks like the ocean was way more capable of dealing with this than we thought. Carry on."

    The ocean wasn't capable of dealing with it. The oil dispersants caused all the oil to sink to the bottom of the ocean, newspersons couldn't see it any longer, and so they went "herp derp problem solved."

    This. Out of sight, out of mind. The dispersant, which is banned in the UK for toxicity, isn't even designed to be used underwater.

    It actually would've been better to let the oil reach the surface. That would've made the oil much easier to track, contain, and clean. But it would've also resulted in pictures of oily pelicans, and that's bad PR.

    The whole thing was a giant snafu. They didn't even know how to properly deploy the containment booms. Easily the worst disaster response since Katrina.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    I seriously cannot understand why BP was not fined out of business, and every one of their shareholders held accountable.

  • furlionfurlion Riskbreaker Lea MondeRegistered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Arch wrote: »
    _J_ wrote: »
    Arch wrote: »
    The BP Oil Spill genetically modified marine life in the Gulf Coast to such a degree that the fucking shrimp no longer have fucking eyes.

    Before this particular bit gets blown out of proportion: Unless you consider epigenetic modifications to be "genetic modifications", no, BP did not genetically modify these shrimp. This is a fairly common phenomena with arthropods- the grandparents are exposed to a stimulant, and it causes changes "on top of" their genome. Essentially, it changes the pattern of genetic regulation present in the organism, mostly through changes in DNA methylation patterns that build up thanks to the strange sex determination in arthropods (that is, it is not just 'have XY chromosomes, then be male'). Things like temperature, pH, and predation (among other things) can all influence the sex of baby shrimp.

    Unlike most things, I'm actually interested in the science of this.

    If Shrimp have "epigenetically"..."modified" or "evolved" or "whatever term is appropriate" in such a way that their offspring no longer have eyes...is that a lasting modification? Or does the genome "reset" at some point?

    Also, why would "epigenetic" and "genetic" be different? Is there a simple explanation for why "epigenetic" and "genetic" are significantly different sorts of modifications, in terms of eye-loss?

    It can eventually "go back", at least from the other examples I have seen (butterflies, for example, and Drosophila)**.

    The difference here is that the genetic code itself is not being changed, just what parts are...I guess "read" by the molecular machinery that translates DNA into proteins.

    Scott Eustis said it correctly, these are a developmental phenomena we are most likely looking at, and the thinkprogress article mentions "a few scientists" and then makes the claim that these are "mutagenic"....which may not really be true.

    I am not certain these are changes to the underlying genome (which is what a mutagen does in some way), if it is the F2 generation showing these signs. It is just too similar to other delayed-onset developmental responses we see in other arthropods to imply that it is mutagenic without hard evidence.

    If it were mutagenic in the traditional sense, then yeah, it could be changing the underlying code, or again it could just be getting in the way. There are a lot of....faster? ways to get the deformity we see here than a change in the actual code.
    Spoiler:

    Is there a way to test the shrimp to know which kind of mutation it is? Or is this the sort of thing where we just have to wait for more generations of shrimp to be produced? If they get their eyes back eventually, then it was epigenetic, but if they never get their eyes back it was genetic?

    We actually can test for different methylation patterns (which is one of the most common epigenetic mechanisms). However unless we know where to look, ie which genes are responsible for eye growth, it would be a pretty big shot in the dark. Also there are several other epigenetic mechanisms that would be much more difficult to test for. If the stimulus causing the lack of eyes is still present, and who knows how much oil it would take to actually cause that change, then the shrimp will not revert. Epigenetic changes can take several generations to show up so it would be another few years before we saw them revert back.

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  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I seriously cannot understand why BP was not fined out of business, and every one of their shareholders held accountable.
    Because they have tons of money, and money=power?

  • TheBlackWindTheBlackWind Registered User regular
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I seriously cannot understand why BP was not fined out of business, and every one of their shareholders held accountable.
    Not only did we not get that, Joe Barton (R) apologized TO THEM for the fines we instituted.

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  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Registered User regular
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I seriously cannot understand why BP was not fined out of business, and every one of their shareholders held accountable.
    Because they have tons of money, and money=power?

    Pretty much this.

    People have been trying to take down BP since it was the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, due to underhanded business practices (treating Iranians as slaves, having a Pre-MP Winston Churchill secure rights for the Burmah Oil Company to exploit Iran's reserves, etc...) and simply not giving-a-fuck.

    Closest anyone has come to making BP answer for it's practices was when Mohammad Mosaddegh was prime minister of Iran and sought to nationalize Iran's oil industry. BP used it's stroke to help sell Eisenhower on the idea of staging a coup against Moasaddegh's government, which he promptly did in 1953.

    At this point BP is pretty much the cockroach of the industrial world. A nuclear war could eradicate all corporations as we know them, and BP will still be there waving it's dick at everybody.

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  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I seriously cannot understand why BP was not fined out of business, and every one of their shareholders held accountable.
    Not only did we not get that, Joe Barton (R) apologized TO THEM for the fines we instituted.

    Next, Joe will send a letter to the shrimp king, demanding that his subjects regain their eyes in order to not make BP look bad.

    _J_ on
    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • Brian KrakowBrian Krakow Registered User regular
    I thought Barton apologized for the treatment that they had suffered at the hands of the vicious environmentalists rather than any actual material penalties.

  • TheBlackWindTheBlackWind Registered User regular
    I thought Barton apologized for the treatment that they had suffered at the hands of the vicious environmentalists rather than any actual material penalties.
    Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the committee, apologized to Hayward for what he described as a "shakedown" at the White House yesterday. He was referring to the deal worked out between the Obama administration and BP to set up a $20 billion fund administered by a third party to pay for damages from the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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  • lu tzelu tze Registered User
    edited April 2012
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I seriously cannot understand why BP was not fined out of business, and every one of their shareholders held accountable.
    Because for all the anti Anglo rhetoric, the fact is that an appreciable number* of BP's shareholders are American.

    You figure out the rest.

    *i.e. almost half.

    lu tze on
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  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    If I were to try to mentally deal with stuff like this I'd likely end up an eco terrorist or something.

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  • Boring7Boring7 Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    lu tze wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I seriously cannot understand why BP was not fined out of business, and every one of their shareholders held accountable.
    Because for all the anti Anglo rhetoric, the fact is that an appreciable number* of BP's shareholders are American.

    You figure out the rest.

    *i.e. almost half.

    Oh that old canard, because Britain is uncomfortable accepting its responsibility.

    BP is "too big to fail", mostly in England, but also in Europe and America and large sections of the mideast. Too many pensions and investment plans are locked up in the corporation for anyone to accept that they are (in every way that counts) committing acts of war against humanity.

    And here in Texas I still, on occasion, hear an advertisement on the radio where some good ol' southern boy or girl talks about how BP put them back to work and the gulf is so beautiful and blahblahblah BP is a magnanimous and merciful lord so clap and cheer you filthy fucking peasant. I SAID CHEER!

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    Sad part? As someone who works for legal tech I will probably be (very indirectly) helping them, because we tend to work for the bad guys. And quitting that job will literally put me and mine out on the street.

    Boring7 on
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Goldman Sachs may as well be named COBRA.
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