Winnipeg Free Press | 12Jul2010 | Orest Slepokura

Extinction-level event?

There are new reports of crude oil from the runaway BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico washing up on the Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston, Texas, and evidence of oil seeping into Lake Pontchartrain inside New Orleans. So far, no one knows precisely when the gusher will be plugged; more ominous is the distinct possibility the hole in the seabed will never be plugged, and the crude will flow for years to come.

If so, then we are facing an extinction- level event. Over time, the Gulf waters will transform into a colossal cesspool of waste and decay. Millions of coastal residents will flee for their lives. An alarmist, far-fetched apocalyptic scenario? Perhaps, for now. But the possibility of it happening does concentrate the mind.

Orest Slepokura, Strathmore, Alta.

Posted by: Rigel
July 12, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Like many alarmists, Orest Splepokura is overreacting to the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and should check on the results of a similar one in the Gulf off the Mexican coast in 1979. It took 10 months to cap and during that time leaked an average of 10,000-30,000 barrels per day. Yet no extinction level events occurred. Even worse and probably the worst in US history was one in the Los Angeles area in 1910 and another off the coast of Nigeria which has been continuing for the past half century! But because the latter is in a developing nation far removed from any propsperous ones, it gets little publicity.

Winnipeg Free Press | 19Jul2010 | Jen Unwin

Mass extinction

Re: Extinction-level event (July 12, 2010). Letter writer Orest Slepokura is not being "alarmist or far-fetched" with his assessment of current extinction rates. The Earth is experiencing a mass extinction event right now. It's known as the Holocene extinction and it's been going on since the Stone Age. The cause of this event is widely believed to be the proliferation of mankind and accelerated climate change starting with the Industrial Revolution.

Between the years of 1500 to 2010, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has documented the extinction of 875 different species. Most extinctions are unnoticed and the actual number is estimated to be as high as 20,000 to two million.

Alarming as these facts are, now is the time to double our conservation efforts, not despair or argue about them. Do your part to practise the three Rs. Reduce, reuse and recycle; every little bit helps.

Jen Unwin