Research reports

Biggin, Matthew, Steve Gorman, and Pascal Fletcher. “Factbox: Gulf oil spill impacts

fisheries, wildlife, tourism.” Reuters (2010). Web.

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Thesis Question: What are the implications of the gulf oil spill on the environment? Evaluation:  Much of the world looks to Reuters for their daily news.  This news organization has the reputation for effective, non-biased coverage of world events and events with global significance.  They are an accepted source for credible information.

Summary:  The sheer scale of the Gulf oil spill makes it the biggest environment disaster to have ever struck the United States.  Oil in the form of sheets, tar-balls, and surface sheen has come ashore in a 400 mile plus area of the southeastern U.S. and threatens all forms of life, from animals to plants to sea creatures.  As a result a ‘fishery disaster’ has been declared for the coastal regions which will severely impact the abilities of the local economies to survive.  Tourism too is an area of the economy that will suffer dire consequences.  This is of particular concern to areas of Florida, which is a huge tourist destination and makes much of its yearly revenue from this industry.

As of the first month of the catastrophe, this state lost millions of dollars from this area alone.  Finally, the shipping industry too is being impacted.  Certain ports of call and lanes have been closed to use by the Coast Guard.  This will hamper efforts to circumvent the worst financial impacts of the spill.  Ultimately a combined price tag for the event in the hundreds of millions of dollars is not entirely unexpected.

Response:  This is a hugely helpful source.  It provides the sheer numbers and figures necessary to proving the larger points of Gulf spill related impacts.  Additionally a wide range of the variables are covered by this report, relating information pertinent to the fishing, shipping and tourist industries; the environment; and government response.  When combined with qualitative analysis, a very full and well rounded discussion can be presented regarding the overall impact of the gulf oil spill.

Broder, John M., and Tom Zeller, Jr. “Gulf Oil Spill is Bad, but How Bad?” New York Times.

(2010). Web.

Thesis Question: What are the implications of the gulf oil spill on the environment?

Evaluation:  The New York Times is often quoted in research due to their lengthy history of journalism.  They are a credible source, but their existence as a local/regional news outlet still must be taken into consideration when evaluating each report. Summary:  The oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon sinking is a tremendous catastrophe.  No one denies that, and certainly not anyone associated with governmental agencies.

However, as bad a spill as it is, with its anticipated fallout, some have begun to question just how bad it actually will be.  This becomes especially interesting when the question is posed as to how bad is this spill compared to historical data of other such disasters.  Much of the initial assessments of impact are based upon various ‘what if’ methodologies.  There are better what if scenarios, and there are worse what if scenarios.  These are all catalogued as hypotheses, and then as the days go by in the timeline of the unfolding events, are tested against various theories.  Therefore the models that are created to anticipate impact are updated on a daily, if not hourly basis.

Consequently, depending upon the timing of the report, there are revelations of great hope juxtaposed with statement of dire consequence.  It is hard to adequately or accurately determine what the final effects upon the environment will be.

Response:  This article is also a valuable piece in the puzzle of the research paper.  It supports the rather ambivalent findings and wait and see models being proposed by various departments and teams that have responded to the spill.  The key point of this being difficult to gauge and properly assess is supported by this report.  Ultimately more research will have to be done to expose more of the hard, concrete data of the spill’s impacts.

Fahrenthold, David A., and Juliet Eilperin.  “Scientists watch for environmental effects of

Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” Washington Post. (2010). Web

Thesis Question: What are the implications of the gulf oil spill on the environment?

Evaluation:  The Washington Post is often quoted in research due to their lengthy history of journalism.  They are a credible source, but their existence as a local/regional news outlet still must be taken into consideration when evaluating each report.

Summary: The spill from the Gulf of Mexico is of a much more catastrophic nature than the infamous Valdez spill in 1989.  The oil in Alaska poured out onto rocky beaches, where it was possible to wash off and scrub rocks.  Not so in areas affected by the recent disaster.  These shorelines of dense growth have become sponges which have soaked up tremendous amounts of oil.  In addition, the spill occurred at the height of the birth cycle of much of the shoreline’s animal inhabitants.  Therefore young creatures will be exposed to the deadly contaminants at a critical age.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been charged with the largest responsibility for protecting these young animals.  This is done chiefly by ‘booming off’ their habitats prior to the contamination reaching the young.  In addition and perhaps more troubling due to its long term nature, is the fouling of estuaries.  These areas found near the mouths of rivers and in swampland are places where the inland freshwater mixes with the saltwater of the ocean to create an environment with unique levels of salinity.  Much of the area’s wildlife vitally depend upon this precise mixture.  The oils will change the ratio and potentially kill off every living thing for generations to come.

Response: This source will be helpful but cannot be depended upon by itself.  It is a good mix of statistical data and subjective information.  However, it can be misinterpreted due to its emotional language and will have to be reviewed and used carefully.  Its balance of coverage, though, makes it an important supplement to the previous research. Guarino, Mark, and Peter N. Spotts. “Gulf oil spill’s environmental impact: How long to recover?” The Christian Science Monitor (May 2010). Web.

Thesis Question: What are the implications of the gulf oil spill on the environment? Evaluation: The Christian Science Monitor has long been known as an objective source for news that combines credible and objective reporting with firsthand subjective reports.

This balance provides a credible source rating.  The references and quotes from experts such as researchers from the National Academy of Sciences aid this.

Summary: Researchers are having to look to a range of past oil spill events to provide a fuller expression of their knowledge of the environmental implications of oil spills in deep ocean water.  This results in a necessary knowledge gap based upon the varying experiences of these disasters.  The learning curve of disasters such as these is sometimes a lengthy process, but with the number of media outlets covering events now, there is much less patience for this.  Collected data does provide information that can result in models being developed, but these models cannot accurately predict the ramifications of all events.  Especially concerning to those studying the recent Gulf oil spill is the lack of apparently relevant spill data.  For example the spill in the Gulf of Valdez in 1989 occurred in much different types of waters and shorelines.  Also, much of the statistical analysis thus far has been aimed at relating the effects of surface spills only – not spills at the great depths of the recent one.  This results in a certain unpredictability of long term problems.

Response: This source will be helpful by expressing the chief difficulties researchers face when evaluating the impact of this most current spill.

It will set a tone for my research that will underscore the importance of the data presented.  This article will be vital for its qualitative nature which will provide the background for more quantitative data collections.  I will need to research more hard data sources to facilitate this.

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