Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hurricane Ike's environmental impact

Hurricanes can have significant negative impact on environment. This was already shown by hurricane Katrina that was one of the worst environmental disasters in the US history with about 9 million gallons of oil spilled. Luckily hurricane Ike hasn't caused environmental damage of such proportion, but its environmental effects are still anything but negligible.

What it did cause though it is variety of different pollution. Strong winds and massive waves destroyed many oil platforms, which of course caused oil spill into the ocean. There is more than half million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, and bayous and bays of Louisiana and Texas. Environmental Protection Agency and different state agencies, have responded to more than 3,000 pollution reports associated with the hurricane where most callers complained about abandoned propane tanks, paint cans and other hazardous materials containers turning up in marshes, backyards and other places.

Though there wasn't any major oil spill, many places still need to be cleaned up so there is lot of work ahead. Air quality tests in Texas also showed no signs of severe air pollution, however these results are still not 100 % certain as Ike damaged many of the state's permanent air pollution monitors in the region.

Oil spill is not the only environmental problem cause by hurricane Ike. Wildlife also experienced negative impact of hurricane Ike as the power of the storm pushed saltwater into freshwater marshes and bayous, affecting various ecosystems. Among most vulnerable animal species are definitely birds that during their migration travel through Texas, wiped out many of their food sources, stripping berries from trees and nectar-producing flowers from plants, reducing amount of available food needed for such long journey.

Final conclusion is that hurricane Ike luckily wasn't as harmful to environment as it first believed to be, mainly because its rough water, heavy rains and wind helped disperse pollution. However climate change could trigger much stronger hurricanes in years to come, and luck won't be always on our side.

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