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The black hole in the Gulf

Satirist Steve Brodner illustrates the size of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, breaking down the numbers with some interesting visual aids:

“So we look at this spill in the Gulf, and we see how huge it is and how horrible it is. We get the number from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that says it is somewhere along the lines of 78,000 square miles. Perhaps by comparing it to things we know we might be able to get a sense of the size.

So we think of a football field. A football field is 57,600 square feet, so that would mean that you could put something like 37 million football fields in this spill.

Think about shopping malls. The Mall of America, our biggest, is 4.2 million square feet. That would mean you could put 782,640 Malls of America in this spill.

The atomic explosion over Nagasaki spread across something like 43 square miles. This spill could have 1,820 Nagasaki bombs. The city of Los Angeles is 469 square miles, so that would give us approximately 167 of them. Chernobyl took up about 77,000 square miles, about the same size as the spill. You could put all of Chernobyl in the Gulf spill.

Of course, there are some things that are bigger than the spill. For example, there’s California. You could put about two spills comfortably in California. Then there’s Texas, which is 268,000 square miles. That’ll hold three spills.

Our own moon, which has a surface area of 14,645,750 square miles, would hold about 187 BP spills. It would sort of become, as it is for us, kind of a black hole.”

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  • Grace

    Thank you for clarifying the size of this spill!

  • Bianca Lippincott

    Oh man… i knew this spill was a lot worse than what we were seeing on The News. I’ve been trying to bring awareness to this spill since I heard about it on the news the very first time. It’s been months, & the reality of it get’s more terrifying everyday. Anyhow, if any of you guys from PBS want someone young to bring more awareness to our generation, I would love to get some more professional ideas(I’ve been watching PBS ever since I heard about the disaster) on how to do that. It seems like a lot of people my age, even adults, are in denial. I just don’t think we have any more time to wait for the spill to magically dissappear. Anyhow, I would love to actually talk about this with someone.. I want to have the facts. e-mail me!! -Bianca : )

  • Ann

    Something to note. According to Wikipedia, Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) is 84,556 square miles. A 78,000 square mile spill would cover 92% of the island. This spill is equal to nearly covering the entire land mass.

  • Julie

    This is tantamount to a terriost attack. It is murder, assult with a deadly weapon (oil is toxic), and attempted murder! If I had a business deep sea fishing lets say, and I knew my boat was in ill repair and I went out anyway causing an accident in which people died-I would be in PRISION right now! This disaster is a direct assult on my ecosystem-the world’s ecosystem. It is a direct attack on each and every being on the planet. This disaster should be prosecuted as such! Large companies should not be allowed to skirt the law.

  • Vladimir

    Why are thousands of Deepwater Oil Drills still operating? What is our Goverment waiting for?

  • J K Laurila

    1910 Union Oil Spill in California was worse than this — check your history. Half of the spill is still in the ground. Perhaps BP will want to drill there to bring it up?

  • Skip

    @Vladimir Obama has placed a “ban” on deep water drilling. ( Anything over 500 feet in depth ) This will cause the loss of hundreds, if not thousands of U.S. Jobs, and drive the cost of fuel up drasticly. Good you say? Then consider this. Why is the Obama admin funneling 2 billion U.S. Tax dollard to Brazils gov. ran drilling company that turned a profit of 15 billion last year? Why indeed is he doing this since he claims deep water drilling to be so dangerous? Why indeed since Brazil’s wells will be drilling in waters deeper than 14,000 feet? Ask George Sorros…. He knows why, as he is the single largest private investor in Brazil’s gov. oil company. He stands to make millions, if not billions while the U.S. shuts down its drilling and helps fund Brazils….

  • skipset

    I don’t like the comparison to Nagasaki. The other comparisons are to sports arenas, man-made structures, states, accidents and finally to celestial bodies. None of which were disasters created by human decisions. Nagasaki was by all accounts a slaughter of innocent lives. where does this fit in to rational conversation about the size of a disaster?

  • martha

    We need more reporting like this, relentlessly!

  • Lorrie Sarafin

    Since the size already fills up half the size of the Gulf – I am thinking that if it continues for another two months or more it will travel around the coast of Florida, spill out into the Atlantic, – and hit the beaches on the East Coast. When it reaches our Maine coast fisheries will we then do something about it? Clearly BP doesn’t have our best interests at heart, nor does that company seemingly care for the environment. This has become too big for BP to handle. Time for ALL world governments to have a hand in solving this issue as clearly it will become a global and not just a local threat….

  • Betty Hansen

    When will the people on the right begin to think critically instead of swallowing hook, line and sinker the untruths fed to them like drugs twenty-four seven by Fox News, Glenn Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh. The BP OIl Spill, is a catastrophe of global scope, and they whine about the economy. Try to wrap your Faux News-drugged little minds that if the plumes of oil eventually drift to the continents of Europe and Africa, killing all living sea creatures and permanently maiming the survivors we could be the first species on this planet to kill itself.
    Call President Obama any half-witted name you can think of and take a clear eyed look at how the BP Oil Spill has begun to change our world. Try to wrap your Fox-drugged minds around the fact that President Obama didn’t cause the oil spill, nor can he fix it nor can the oil industry still clinging to a few half-hearted ideas dating back to the 1960s.
    It’s just not fixable. The Fox propaganda machine spills forth lies with the intensity of the oil spill. It doesn’t matter anymore that the price of gas will go up. Safety has always been at the bottom of the oil industry’s list of how to run a corporation. Profit at any cost to its workers transcends everything. They have no respect for those who will lose their jobs just as long as their dividends come in on time.
    When the hurricanes blow the toxic gases inland and contaminate the air we breath those hundreds of thousands of workers will be too sick to go to work anyway. Add to the tragedy is the news that workers spotted a leak at that oil site a month before the explosion and that a judge in Texas has now blocked the administration’s moratorium on oil drilling because of “rash thinking.”
    I wish there was a brighter side to this rape of our planet but I see none. I’m reminded of the line in “Fargo,” when the sheriff who has arrested the killer of the young wife as well as her husband who needed cash to cover his embezzlement
    “All over a little bit of money.” A little bit of money and time was all it would have taken for this never to have happened at all. And still those who recognize the enormity of this are accused of “demonizing poor little BP.
    I am reminded of the term “opiates for the masses.”

  • Raymond7k

    You compare the oil spill to Nagasaki ? Insensitive seems inadequate. Are you people insane ?

  • Raymond7k

    Not to worry Skip, a federal judge in New Orleans is looking after your interests.

  • Tim Freeman

    I am in Walton County FL right now just off highway 30-a. The oil has breached into two coastal dune lakes only found in two areas on the entire planet. Who gives a rats ass about a few thousand jobs? This is insane. STOP DRILLING NOW!

  • Marvin Wulff

    How big a hole,take sheets of durabile metals and weild this over this hole!

  • AliciaE

    This is EXACTLY like Nagasaki people!! Dont think enough people have died yet to make it qualify? Just wait. The corexit they have been spraying since week 1 is 4x more deadly than than crude oil…we are talking 1.5 MILLION gallons of it alone. Death to anything that is living. Do you rank the life in the ocean at a lower level than that of human life? Because nothing will still be living in or around the gulf when this is over. And the acid rain that is caused by the corexit as it is picked up by the rough weather of the hurricane season coming will kill crops across America. Then will it be ok to compare this to SLAUGHTER? This is so serious folks, please do not depend on TV stations to give you the truth!! Seek it.

  • AliciaE

    Bianca, there are many independent journalists out on the beaches talking about what is going on, taking pictures and video. If you are on Facebook there is a great page “True Reporting on Gulf Oil Spill” that you can become a fan of. He posts a couple times a day, has been on radio and followed by CNN and BBC. He is a good starting point and then you can research the links that are posted by people who watch his work as well. Inform yourself!! Dont let anyone tell you what to believe and dont let go of your will to KNOW THE TRUTH. We are all being lied to on a very grand scale. Good luck.

  • Rich

    you all need to stop lying to the people. the BP co. created a LEAK not a SPILL and the longer we ingnore the problem the worse it’s going to be lets put that out there for all to see. a SPILL has happened A LEAK is still HAPPENING !!!!!!!!!!! LET”S STOP THE LEAK & BP…….!

  • Ann

    Would like to see this now, July 9, since the video is dated June 18th. Also a comparison to the Niger Delta debacle. Does the artist read these? How to reach? 37,000 million football fields ought to get the attention of some of those that are hiding their heads in the sand.

  • rich

    “Do you rank the life in the ocean at a lower level than that of human life?”

    Let me think for a second… YES.

    Are you kidding me? No doubt this is a horrible tragedy, and the effects to the people on the gulf south are severe. but let’s not derail valid discussion with loony PETA comments like the one above. human life is most definitely “ranked at a higher level” than marine life, as well it should be.

  • Cameron

    There was a time when humans lived in harmony (mostly) with the natural world. The natural order was in balance and the planet was healthy. Then along came the Industrial Revolution and it’s spawn of greedy money grubbers which grew in numbers and size and within practically no time at all ‘they’ laid waste to this beautiful planet. Strangely enough, “The little people” (to coin a phrase used by one of the BP CEOs) have enabled the corporations to pollute and degrade Earth by continuously buying their products and have even hoped that someday they too could be as wealthy as those CEOs and the major stockholders of those multinational corporations. On the face of it, the mass of humanity would appear to be like a mindless passive entity that allows itself to be lead first to its enslavement and then to its destruction. If we continue to believe that we need oil and other things that are environmentally destructive to live, then we should accept the consequences that come with having those those ‘conveniences’, as well. I would like to belive that we will WAKE UP and tell the corporations that are harming us and our families that we don’t need them. They need us. We can find ways that are sustainable and healthy if only we will.