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Oil spills are a major problem on the long list of problems that non-renewable energy creates. When oil pipes built under the ocean break open, they are known to create a catastrophe in the marine ecosystems.  There is no foolproof way to remove oil from an open ocean. However, scientists since the early 2000s have been studying bacteria that has the ability to break down oil. The findings may be revolutionary as we are continually in danger of another spill.

How do oils spills affect the surrounding environment?

Oil spills are extremely damaging to the environment. It is made of chemicals filled with countless harmful toxins, and this creates a heap of problems.

Because oil floats on top of the water, the animals that are most affected are those found on the sea surface, like birds and otters. It coats the animal’s feathers and fur, leaving them unable to fly or swim. Eventually the oil sinks and affects the rest of the marine life below it. This destroys the fragile ecosystems and food chains that exist within it. Countless food supplies and habitats are completely ruined.

However, the oil spill itself is not the only thing that damages the environment. The cleanup requires more chemicals to be put into the oil to break it up and make it easier to remove. So, double the amount of chemicals seeping into the ocean is doubled by the end of the cleanup process.

How do bacteria clean up oil?

Bacteria, however, may be a better solution for cleaning up oil. Scientists have discovered a rod-shaped bacteria that need oil for energy. These bacteria populate the area where the oil spill occurs. Scientists from the German Research Center for Biotechnology have broken this marine organism’s genome and re-sequenced it. They are hoping to “harness [the bacteria’s] power to help clean up future oil spills”.

In the end, microbes are the only true way to remove oil from the ocean. It is extremely strong, natural, and tough.

The future of oil

We would no longer have to worry about oil spills if we relied on renewables for energy. The good news is that renewable energy is getting much cheaper, so it looks like we are heading to a world of fewer spills, and more clean, safe energy.