Oil wells present society with many more negative effects than positive ones. The environmental effects of oil wells accidents, such as the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf in 2010, has brought oil wells to the forefront of the American public debate. Just the effect of this one event outweighs the two primary positives of oil wells: employment and the potential reduction of gas prices. Americans used 6.85 billion barrels of oil in 2009, and that usage increased in 2010, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.
The biggest effect of oil wells is on the environment. Exploring, researching and drilling for oil onshore and offshore damages the environment dramatically. For example, oil explorers send seismic waves into the ground to determine if a oil is present. These seismic exploration is disorienting whales and other marine life causing the the whales to beach themselves, according to the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. Onshore oil wells disturb the wildlife, as well. Once an oil-well location is established, roads, landing fields, buildings and other necessary construction for workers living at the location disturb the animal inhabitants and damage the landscape.
One of the biggest positives from oil wells is the number of jobs found in the industry. Oil-and-gas-well drilling jobs accounted for more than 63,000 jobs in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The oil and gas industry accounts for more than 9 million American jobs, reports Rigzone.com. The industry brought in more than 7.5 percent of the nation’s gross nation product. All of these financial benefits started with the oil well because of research, exploration, drilling and distribution to the public. However, many of these jobs rise and fall with the price of oil or a downturn in the economy. Entire towns can all-but-disappear if the oil industry closes their oil wells or moves to another location.
The spills created by oil wells are another negative impact on society. The transportation of oil from the well accounts for 300 to 500 spills a year. Accidents like the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 and the explosion of the well in the Gulf in 2010 continue to plague the wildlife and residents in those locations. The spilling of oil from a well is expected to grow with increased production. Once oil reaches the water supply, it spreads quickly, and cleaning up those oil spills takes a long time because of the rate oil spreads in the water. Water comes up from the well with the oil during drilling. The water that rises with the oil has toxins that effect wildlife and marine life as well as humans. The toxic water is disposed of by dumping the toxic water onto the ground or into the ocean. None of this toxic water spillage is part of the recorded oil spills mentioned earlier.
Increasing demands from growing oil markets in China and India create more opportunities for Americans. More domestic production will allow the United States to have more control over the gasoline or fuel produced from crude oil. The financial and national security benefits to Americans will grow once oil production is increased because the reliance on foreign oil will limit the amount of control foreign governments have over American oil usage. Any violence or political disturbances in a oil-producing country affects crude oil prices around the world and causes the price of gasoline to rise dramatically. Opening more oil wells withing the United States eliminates some of the effects of violent and political disturbances around the world.
The increase in oil production from oil wells will inevitably increase fossil fuel usage. The increased fossil fuel usage has a major effect on global warming. Each year, the increase emissions of greenhouse gases causes temperatures to rise. Greenhouse gasses are created from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil. The gasses cause a greenhouse effect on the earth — like the interior of a car on a hot day, heat increases on the earth's surface because it cannot escape the atmosphere, because the gases released during the burning of fossil fuels traps the heat. Even a 1-degree increase in global temperature may cause the world's permafrost to melt, as well as create a meltdown at the polar caps. These meltdowns create a host of other problems ,such as flooding or a rise in the ocean level.
- National Academies: Effects of Oil and Gas Development are Accumulating
- Life Science: Oil Drilling; Risks and Rewards
- USA Today: Worth the Risk? Debate on Offshore Oil Drilling Heats Up
- United State Army Corps of Engineers: 6 Potential Environmental Effects of Oil and Gas Drilling
- U. S. Energy Information Administration: Frequently Asked Questions
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Oil and Gas Drilling
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