Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oil is the Earth's Blood

While the Amazon might be the earth's lungs, Paul Salopek
makes the case that oil is the earth's blood.

In some respects, crude really does resemble blood. It scabs on exposure to air. It is organic and viscous. Some companies warm oil to about 90 degrees to make it slip more easily, with less friction, through pipelines. This temperature approximates that of the human body. Cold oil will coagulate. It coats the inner surfaces of the pipes with waxy buildups, much like arterial plaque. Pipelines must be cleaned regularly with the industrial equivalent of a cardiac balloon: a plastic plug that oil workers call a "pig."

Oil is not sterile. It supports bacteria and fungi. Terminal managers tell of draining old storage tanks and finding "vines" of oil-eating algae growing inside--some of them many feet long.
Interesting. I did not realize that bacteria and fungi grew in it. You never really think of oil being organic, but it is in the o-chem sense of the word.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about oil is this: After 150 years of unleashing its explosive power to shrink the world and expand our dominion of nature, and after reshaping it into innumerable useful byproducts--from plastic cradles to vinyl body bags--we still do not understand fully where oil comes from or how it was made.

The notion that it is the cooked and condensed remains of dinosaurs is at best marginally correct. Most geologists agree that terrestrial life never existed in sufficient abundance to explain the vast amount of crude now lurking in the ground. Instead, many scientists believe petroleum was born in water--as algae and minute life forms called plankton that once drifted in ancient seas. Fed by ancient sunbeams, the plants bloomed in oceanic quantities, died and were buried in sea-bottom silts.

Because of this, some experts call the energy locked inside oil "fossilized sunlight." But this remains a theory. No one has yet synthesized crude from dead plant matter.
Huh. I am surprised that no one has been able to create oil in the lab. I thought it was an established fact.

via Chicago Tribune


Anonymous said...

Oh, yes. It has been reproduced in the lab by the very primative bacteria that produce it in the Earth's crust. And that source is the tip of the ice-burg. In addition, existing oilfields are being replenished by, guess what? The existing Biota that lives in the rocks. The Earth is more complex than we can imagine.

Anonymous said...

I picked at a scab and watched the blood oose out of me and thought. the earth is me and oil is the earth's blood. This is the first site I hit after googling earths blood while I watch mine drip.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #3...

I've held this theory since I was 12-years old. My gut & heart say that it is fact. Great posts, both of you "Anonymous" ones, above, BTW.

Now -- More than ever, I feel something needs to be done to Permanently & Completely put a Stop to the Global Extraction of oil.

Anonymous said...

I just thought about this yesterday and decided to google it. I strongly believe in my heart that it is in fact the earth's blood. We must stop the extraction of this precious liquid that sustains us.

Anonymous said...

Draining the oil from the Earth will lead to the death of the Earth. The Earth is to suffer the same fate as Mars. The ice caps are melting away and the oceans will rise killing everything. Then the imbalance will happen because of the destruction of the ecosystems, the Earth will no longer be able to regulate itself. The Earth's atmosphere will slowly erode and the water will evaporate into space...end result will be the Earth becoming Mars.

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