As the Gulf of Mexico continues to be soaked in oil from a BP oil well explosion more than 50 days ago, the colossal and long-lasting economic, ecological and human effects from the disaster become more clear with each passing day.
I am not an economic expert, marine biologist or a medical professional.
I do not profess to possess any special abilities to look into the future.
What I am is a middle-aged American male who has been around the block a couple of times.
And in those travels around the block I have learned some things that I believe give me the ability to make some reasonable predictions as to what the short-term and long-term affects will be from this catastrophe.
Gasoline Prices Will Increase Dramatically
Although gas prices have stayed fairly close to what they were before the oil well explosion, you can count the days until you begin to see a spike in the price of a gallon of gas.
Anyone who has taken basic economics knows the principle of supply and demand.
When supply is low and demand is high, the price of a commodity goes up to maintain the same profit margin to compensate for the lower supply available to the consumer.
Even though the well which exploded was not online (operational) yet, BP had already calculated revenues that it expected to gain from the well and had put those figures into it’s profit predictions for the future.
Now that the well is, for all intent and purposes, offline for an undetermined length of time, BP must make up those lost revenues and the only way that they can do that is to…you guessed it…raise their prices.
If the well never goes online, you can expect BP as well as other petroleum companies, to raise their prices dramatically.
I’m guessing that $4.00 for a gallon of gas is not far off in the future.
I pray that I’m wrong.
Food Prices Will Increase
Like Siamese twins, food prices are tied to gasoline prices.
Almost in direct proportion, food prices increase with the cost to transport food products.
Restaurants, grocery stores, food markets and anyone who sells food has to pass on the increased cost of getting their goods transported on to the consumer.
It’s the natural order of things.
In times past, many food outlets have tried to absorb the increased cost but in the end had to raise their prices to compensate for the additional costs that they were incurring.
Service Prices Will Increase
Not to sound like a broken record (whatever that is), but just like with food prices, service prices will go up also.
Again, because of the increased cost to travel via gasoline powered service vehicles, service providers will have to boost their prices to make up for the higher cost to bring service to you.
Repair shops, flower shops and anyone who operates a service vehicle will have no choice but to charge a higher price in order to service their customers.
Even pizza delivery costs go up when there is a significant increase in gasoline costs.
Yes I used the “T” word.
Unfortunately, you can expect your taxes to increase either locally, nationally or both.
Because the federal and local governments are and will be for a long time to come, involved in the clean up and restoration of the gulf coast area, an increased burden on funds available for such endeavors will be incurred.
And because the disaster is so massive and ongoing, government funds for taking care of the gulf coast region will eventually run out which means new funding will have to come from somewhere and that place is usually the taxpayer.
I know BP has pledged to pay for cleaning up the gulf but up to this point, BP’s record for telling the truth is not very good.
And to be quite honest, I wouldn’t trust BP to get me a cup of coffee.
Believe me, in some way, fashion or form, taxpayers are going to end up paying for this mess and BP is going to come out of it squeaky clean.
There is also going to be a ton of federal indictments and court cases to come out of this catastrophe, which will mean additional government funds being used to prosecute those responsible.
Whether the trials are held in the gulf coast region (where they should be) or somewhere else, there will be another additional burden to government funds.
These trials could last for years and the appeals from these trials could last for infinitum and the drain from these proceedings will undoubtedly come close to wiping out federal coffers to deal with such matters.
So, get your checkbook ready.
Dramatic Increases In Cancers and Other Diseases For Residents and Workers In The Area
To be blunt, the fumes coming off of the oil coating the Gulf of Mexico are toxic.
Anyone breathing those fumes is exposing themselves to future respiratory problems and maybe worse.
Rachel Maddow, host of the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, did a report from the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend (June 13, 2010) and in that report stated that the smell coming from the gulf was like being surrounded by a gas station.
Ms. Maddow stated that if she were to go somewhere and smell what she smelled in the gulf, her first reaction would be to leave quickly.
The residents of the gulf region have been smelling those fumes for nearly 8 weeks now. There have been reports of fishermen and other residents becoming sick from inhaling the toxic fumes.
Those who are inhaling the fumes without any protective breathing apparatus are simply taking their lives into their own hands.
We already know that many toxins cause various cancers. What will be the result for all of those in the gulf region who are and will be breathing the toxic fumes in the area for months and maybe years to come?
It’s scary to think about.
Dramatic Loss of Wildlife
The loss of wildlife in the gulf coast region is heartbreaking.
As of the writing of this article, nearly 650 severely soiled Brown Pelicans have been plucked from the waters of the gulf. Experts say there is no way to estimate how many have actually died from the contamination. .
What is really heartbreaking about the Brown Pelican’s plight is the fact that they were just taken off of the federal endangered species list in November of 2009.
Just over 6 months ago.
But the most devastating thing is, this is only the beginning.
The Barrier Islands where Brown Pelicans nest off of the coast of Louisiana in the region is now becoming a target of the moving mass of oil .
As millions (yes I said millions), of gallons of oil continue to gush into the Gulf of Mexico we could be witnessing the extinguishing of some species of wildlife in that region.
Dolphins and other amphibious creatures in the area drink in the oil as they are swimming in the waters, in essence drowning themselves with the thick substance.
These creatures are innocent victims of a man-made disaster and they are paying a heavy price.
What the ultimate price will be is anybody’s guess.
Undetermined Ecological Damage
As I said, I am not a marine biologist or an environmental expert but I do understand that the ecological life cycles of plant and animal life in the gulf region are being impacted and disrupted by the oil spill.
The Gulf of Mexico is host to many different species of plant and animal life. It is a breeding ground for many species that migrate to the area.
With the expanse of oil affecting the coastline of the gulf those life cycles are being interrupted which can have a monumental affect on the ecological process in the region for generations to come.
No one knows exactly what affect this disaster is having on the ecological makeup of the region but we do know if it is disrupted for a long enough period of time it will not only affect plant and animal life, it will affect mankind also.