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.”