Regional Issues in Kuwait
There is a huge debate on the worth of oil drilling on the environmental costs and risks. This is the main way through which oil is obtained. There are alternative sources of energy but they are still expensive. These have made them not to be developed to be the main stream power sources. The current state of the earth with issues like ozone loss and global warming shows that people should invest in alternative energy. Oils are formed from plankton and algae which is fossilized. The fossils settle together at the bottom of water bodies. After these sediments buries them. Depending on the environment that the oil rig brings oil, there are environmental effects which can occur. This paper is going to look at the environmental effects of oil drilling in Kuwait.
There are a number of stressors in Kuwait which are both natural and man-made. The natural ones are physical settings which are arid, environmental conditions which are extreme, water bodies that are shallow and enclosed and water exchange rate which is low (Ian, 65). The manmade stressors include the development of urban centers, pollution from industries and activities related to oil like production, exploration and distribution. Drilling of oil in Kuwait has many threats which are similar to the other countries which produce oil. This includes ground pollution, air pollution, water pollution and the spilling of the oil. Oil drilling has those threats and they were magnified by the Persian Gulf War. Every war which takes place takes a toll on the environment but the Persian Gulf War was the worst.
Kuwait military were assisted by the United States to drive out the militants from Iraq. After this Saddam Hussein a policy of scorched earth. This is where the oil wells were lit on fires while the troops retreated from Kuwait. By 1991 the month of March, about eight hundred oil wells had had been set on fire. Recent assessments which have been don on the damage that they will bring to the environment showed that the terrorism of the ecology would lead to a nuclear winter which will be devastating (Patrik , 48). This is because the effects on the environment of the burning oil are still severe.
When oil is burnt, it produces carbon dioxide smoke that is very harmful to the environment. This is also to the animals and people that live in the environment. The soot and smoke generated was a lot. There were reports that the sun was partially being blocked by this. This resulted to the regions experiencing changes in the climate. The temperatures dropped to 20 degrees to 10 degrees Celsius. According to scientists two million barrels of oil in a day can generate smoke which can cover half of the United State. The smoke that was produced from the burning oil raised high concern on global warming (Bryan, 32). Scientists gave an estimate of the rise of smoke that was constant into the atmosphere depleted the ozone layer. This caused many problems to the life of animals and plants. There was the oil which did not burn in the fire. The oil travelled through the wind. This was through droplets which resulted to oil fog or mist. The oil fog poisoned sheep which were grazing and the trees. The supplies for fresh water were also contaminated. The oil fog settled on the lungs of animals and people in Kuwait.
This also led to acid rain which affected the production of agriculture. This also affected the surrounding areas by changing the climatic patterns of weather through the transportation of the smoke to other countries by using the air space. There was a cloud of smoke which stretched to the United Arab Emirates from Bagdad and finally to Iran. This led to the black rain which was also experienced in countries far from Kuwait like Afghanistan, Turkey and Syria (Vanessa, 49). The environmental damage of the scorched earth policy was estimated to be more that the amount of oil spilled in Alaska that later flowed to the Gulf. This caused harm which was irreparable to physical integrity and biological diversity of the Gulf. In the Saudi Arabia coastline the oil soaked over 400 miles. This will take some years before the oil will be swept by water through the natural forces.
Apart from the oil wells which were burning, about eleven million oil barrels were released into the Persian Gulf. This created an effect which was devastating the ecosystem that is biological of the fisheries and the Gulf. Although most of the people work in the oil industry in Kuwait, fishing is also one of the major industries that make the people make an income which is profitable. Before the oil spillage Kuwait used to have 120,000 tons of fish in a year (Markaz al-Buhuth, 11). This was a yield which was harvested from the marine life. After the spilling of the oil into the Gulf, the numbers dropped significantly. This led to the degradation of the economic activity. This is considering that most of the people in the Gulf coast depend on the subsistence activity of fishing. The fish were disrupted by the oil spillage.
The burning caused air pollution which had many problems not only to the people and plants but also to the birds which were migrating to the area. The exposure of oil and the air which was polluted to the birds led to their death. The citizens in Kuwait were also affected by respiratory problems. Issues like birth defects and lung cancer increased in Kuwait as a result of this. This increased the death rate by 10% in a short period (Mikhail, 24). Many people were displaced and left homeless. This is because most of the land in Kuwait was covered with lakes of oil and smoke. The peoples had to move from the areas because they were inhabitable. The oil lakes and soot had accumulated from the oil wells which were burning.
There are different environmentalists who have had different views on the Persian Gulf War. This is despite the effect that it had to the environment through the burning of the oil. There are environmentalists who argue that the pollution was just normal. This was the pollution which was caused by oil spillages that were frequent and the dirty ballasts which were from the tanks which were passing. They argue that the spillage has an environmental risk that is greater when compared to the oil fires in Kuwait. Statistics which are official have showed that in a year the Gulf is polluted by 1.14 million tons of oil (Vanessa, 54). This is the same as being polluted daily by 25000 barrels of oil.
The exploration and production of oil in Kuwait has impacts that are negative to the environment. Surveys which are seismic damage the capacity of hearing of the different mammals and fishes in the Gulf. The waste from the drills destroys the granulometry sediments and buries the seedbed of the animals. The drilling waste also has contaminants and the water produced while extracting oil is toxic to the animals living in the water (Mikhail, 20). The contaminants concentration is increased in the tissue of the animals that live in water. When the oil spills or leaks on top of water, there is less penetration of light and this limits the photosynthesis of plants in the marine. The insulating ability of mammals with fur like sea otters is destroyed by oil. Marine mammals and birds ingest the oil when cleaning themselves. This leads to the animals being killed or injured.
Every industry which is drilling oil has negative effects on the environment. When Iraq invaded Kuwait made these damages to increase. The burning of oil wells which was massive, dumping oil in the Persian Gulf and spillage has negative effects to both the environment and economy of Kuwait. The surrounding areas also had to suffer from some of the effects. This is due to the amounts of carbon smoke which was enormous and was released in the atmosphere. The environmental problems which comes about because of oil drilling are fisheries being disrupted, pollution and land loss.
The discussions above show that there are many negative effects of oil drilling in Kuwait. This comes about by the oil wells which were lit on fires or spillage of oil. Both plants and animals are affected by these activities. Human beings started to develop health problems and animals were unable to survive in the environment. Fishing was one of the economic activities in Kuwait which was largely affected by the oil spillage. The wildlife was also affected and they are eye-catching in the environment. The fishes were not able to survive because the oil was on top of the water which hindered the fishes from getting fresh air. The Consequences on the environment of activities related to oil activities cannot be avoided. There is a growing demand of oil and this also increases the effects it has on the environment. The independent regulatory bodies should minimize and monitor the effects of the activities related to oil.
The burning of the oil wells in Kuwait has created on of the largest fire in the fields of oil in history. The effects of the fire were very extreme. The particles of soot remained in the atmosphere. Oil activities have impacts which are negative to water, land, air and animals. It is important for Kuwait to increase the effectiveness of policies on environmental issues. They should establish long term objectives concerning issues with the environment. This will help in strengthening the other major economic activities. This will also help in dealing with oils spillage especially in water bodies and aid in the survival of the animals living in the water or depend on the water. There are also plants that animals depend on and the plant will no longer be affected if preventive methods are put in place.
- Bryan, Walsh, “Catastrophe in the Gulf: How Bad Could It Get?” Time, June 3, 2010: 30-33. Print.
- Ian, Yarett, “The Great Unknowns in Gulf Oil Spill,” Newsweek, May 24, 2010: 64-66. Print.
- Markaz al-Buḥūth wa-al-Dirāsāt al-Kuwaytīyah (Kuwait). Devastating Kuwait’s Oil Wells : Facts Revealed by Iraqi Documents. Almansouria, Kuwait :The Centre, 1997. Print.
- Mikhail Kashubsky ‘Marine Pollution from the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry: Review of Major Conventions and Russian Law (Part II)’ 151 Maritime Studies 1, 11, 2007.
- Mikhail Kashubsky, ‘Marine Pollution from the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry: Review of Major Conventions and Russian Law (Part 1)’ 151 Maritime Studies 1, 5, 2006.
- Patrik, Jonsson, “Gulf Oil Spill: Did Big Oil Run Roughshod over Regulators?” Christian Science Monitor, May 6, 2010: 47-50. Print.
- Stan, Jones and Sharon, Bushell. The Spill: Personal Stories from the Exxon Valdez Disaster. Kenmore, WA: Epicenter, 2009.
- Vanessa, Vick, “Offshore Drilling and Exploration,” New York Times, July 9, 2010: 52-54. Print.
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