Technology to the Rescue

Op-Ed on Thomson Reuters Sustainability by Mark R. Kriss

Satellites can deliver transparency on super polluters in near real time.

This week brought depressing news of yet another environmental mega disaster. An oil spill has been quietly leaking between 300 and 500 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico since a Taylor Energy-owned production platform located 12 miles off the coast of Louisiana was toppled by an underwater mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  After 14 years of limited success in capping the leak, the Taylor Energy leak now verges on becoming a worse offshore disaster than the infamous British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon explosion of 2010.

Sadly, the Taylor Energy leak is not the gravest environmental threat we face. But it’s symptomatic of the sometimes hidden costs – to ecosystems, the food chain, public health and climate stability – of the fossil fuel industry.

Like Deepwater Horizon, the Taylor Energy oil spill is primarily a regional ecological disaster. Invisible methane leaks from oil and gas production and distribution have a far bigger effect on global warming – an existential threat to human life as we know it – than oil spills.