In a bid for the US to become totally self-sufficient when it comes to energy, President Obama has announced that oil companies should be allowed to drill for oil in the oceans off the US coasts for the first time in decades. Will we see more oil spills? Although thousands of birds and mammals were killed immediately following the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989, the long-term effects of oil exposure on the region’s wildlife remain a concern today, over 20 years later.

Biologists Daniel Esler and Samuel A. Iverson say that Harlequin ducks were especially vulnerable to the Exxon Valdez spill because the oil invaded their habitat, and remained in the sediment through at least 1998, according to soil samples. Research also showed that the ducks remained exposed to the oil and continued to suffer even a decade after the spill. They say, “This new understanding was in stark contrast to the conventional wisdom at the time of the spill that effects on wildlife populations should be short-lived and present only in the acute phase of catastrophic spills.

“Our results indicate that it took roughly a decade for survival of female harlequin ducks to recover following the Exxon Valdez spill, which is much longer than had been assumed that deleterious effects on wildlife populations would be expressed.”

The REAL cure for energy dependence on the Middle East is alternate forms of energy, and new ones are coming along every day. One of these, a battery made up of carbon nanotubes that is being developed at MIT, is so tiny, you have to use a microscope to see it. To start with, these batteries will be used to power laptop computers, not power plants, but they will also conserve a surprising amount of energy.

In CNN, Shelby Lin Erdman quotes inventor Michael Strano as saying, “Most people don’t realize a battery sitting unused in your laptop is leaking its power away. If you take all the laptop batteries that are produced in one year, in the off state, they’re leaking an amount of power during that year that we could store in a small nuclear reactor, and that’s power that’s essentially lost and dissipated just from laptop batteries.”

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