Living things require provision of clean water, and as many scholars say, water is life and without it no one can live. Thus for supply of clean water the water bodies are supposed to be protected from pollution. By adding new substances that make water unsafe for use by organisms that depend on it is regarded as pollution. The oil spills in the oceans are acting as barriers to the normal functioning of the hydrological cycle.
According to Ran (2011, p. 6) water has many functions one of them being that it is used as a transport mechanism. The ship industry is the major user of water bodies since the time of US civil war. The ships for a long time have been spilling oil into the water bodies and nothing much has been done to stop this. According to researches carried out, oil amounting to 10 billion tones is spilled yearly into the water bodies and this has resulted in death of water dwelling organisms since their habitats are destroyed. Apart from destroying their habitats most of them have died due to poisoning since the oil in many cases contains toxic substances. The efforts put in place to clean up the spilt oil have not been very successful since they have removed only 10% of the oil substances from the water bodies.
Sandra (2005, p. 22) argues that a major cause of water pollution is through the activities of man that introduce harmful substances into the water bodies. It is estimated that Fourteen billion pounds of sludge, garbage and sewage are introduced into the oceans worldwide annually.
There is an increase in the problems resulting from water pollution and is mainly affecting millions of people who are living near water bodies. Davis (1988, p.8) puts it that though not all nations are in contact with oceans, the effect of pollution is felt worldwide due to the fact that the harmful substances are transported by water to all regions. With the continuing rate of water pollution, it is hard and painful for one to create a picture of the appearance of the water bodies in the coming future. With the bad appearance it means that the water will not be good for anyone's consumption hence living things will lack a commodity which is very essential in life.
Oil spill is as a result of releasing of petroleum hydrocarbons that are in liquid state of which when released into water bodies will cause water pollution. It is one of the ways that has resulted in introduction of new harmful substances into water bodies making them unsafe to use. The problem started back in the 1980s when the Exxon Valdez oil spill resulted in many of the world's water bodies being polluted.
Release of oil into water bodies can be by: tankers releasing crude oil; rigs used in drilling and offshore platforms. The substances released consist of: petroleum products that are refined like diesel and gasoline. Others are the byproducts of the refined products of petroleum that large ships use, for example banker fuel.
Davis (1988, p.8) claims that cleaning up of oil spill is difficult since it takes several months or years to completely clean-up. When carrying out clean-up activities the success of the activity is dependent on the following factors: the oil type; the water body's temperature which will have an effect on the evaporation rates and biodegradation; the characteristics of the beaches and the shorelines.
Natural oil seepage is also a source of oil polluting water bodies though it rarely occurs and if it occurs its amount is always low. This source of oil spill has been occurring for a long period of time and its effects have not been felt. But it should not be assumed since oil has a character of having a long term effect and given the fact that it is hard to clean spilt oil from oceans removing it might be a great challenge in future.
Sandra (2005, p. 22) views that since the use of oil is wide and more so in the business activities, stopping its use is difficult and may take long. To avoid pollution effects that come along with its use, better storage facilities and systems of distribution are to be used. Pollution from oil is due to the following: loss from facilities of storage; spilling during the time of delivery and disposal of oil deliberately by people into systems of drainage. The main effect is on the water bodies, which are affected even if the spill is of low quantity. The water bodies are affected in the following ways: the pollution makes water unsafe for drinking; cause a lot of harm to the wildlife; can damage the underground water for very long periods. One of the steps taken by governments to reduce water pollution is by establishing acts that make water pollution a criminal offence.
According to Miles (2005, p. 55) the planet's water is constant in amount hence cannot be increased, its flow is ceaseless and the water is not the same in quality. The water's quality differs from place to place and this is as a result of the different substances that it comes in contact with. Upon coming in contact with the substances, they become a component of the water body thus if the material picked is poisonous the water will as well be poisonous. When oil spills into water bodies it directly becomes part of the water in that the harmful part of oils like the hydrocarbon are added to the water. By looking at water one cannot establish its toxicity substances because of its ability to dissolve substances and form a uniform solution.
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Miles (2005, p. 55) claims that water pollution has both direct and indirect effects on human beings and the fact that people might avoid using polluted water they will still consume infected organisms. Taking an example that, because of oil spill people stop using ocean water and use borehole water the problem will still affect them. This is because of their dependent on plants and animals as a source of food which might have used water from the ocean hence transmit the chemicals to people. Hence for people to be safe, care has to be taken so that there is no introduction of harmful substances into water bodies.
Raloff (2011, p.17) puts it that oil spill into water bodies has numerous effects, one of them being that the hydrologic cycle is affected. This cycle describes how water is transformed from one phase to another with the sun being the main source of energy. The oceans which form the worlds largest water bodies are the main sources of water in this cycle hence a change in their composition will adversely affect the system. The system has been in operation since life began and is the one that makes it possible for all the living systems to survive. Rain forms as a result of evaporation and condensation of water that the oceans provide. Presence of adequate rain will result in plants flourishing hence human beings and other organisms that depend on plants as a source of food will have enough food.
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The major problem with oil spill in water is that it creates an environment that cannot support the life of the water dwelling organisms (Sandra 2005, p. 22). Upon oil spill dolphins, fish and birds among others are found dead on the beaches and it is believed that pollution resulting from the oil spill is the cause of their death.
Because of oil spill and given the fact that oil has a lower density than water it will float on top of water hence a very small surface area of water is exposed to the sun's rays. This means that the amount of vapor resulting from evaporation will be lower leading to a reduction in the amount of rain. Since oil contains many particles some of them are soluble in water which is dissolved resulting in a change in the water's chemical composition. Due to the change in the chemical composition the water might evaporate at very high temperatures that the sun cannot support. This will also result in reduction in the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere which will as well lead to a reduction in amount of rain.
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According to Miles (2005, p. 55) plants are major components of the hydrologic cycle since they participate in adding water to the atmosphere and removing water from the soil. Through transpiration they release water vapor to the atmosphere and through absorption water is absorbed from soil. Oil spill makes these processes difficult since the leaf surfaces of the plants are covered with oil reducing the surfaces exposed to the atmosphere for transpiration processes. In other words this covering of the leaf surface by oil may result in the plants being unable to harness the rays of the sun for photosynthesis processes. With this all the normal processes carried out by the plant are affected including absorption of water from the soil. Affecting the plants activities means that the hydrologic cycle is as well affected leading to an indirect effect on all living systems.
According to Ran (2011, p. 6) the exploration for the geological resources is a current and continuing problem that is causing high pollution to the oceans. It has surpassed the ship industry which though pollutes the water it does so at a lower rate compared to the exploration activities. Thousands of years before there were no exploration activities in the oceans hence oceans were free of the pollutants. During that time the hydrologic processes were very effective but given the current intensive exploration activities it is expected that things will worsen in future if care is not taken. This is because many countries are now relying on geological resources as a source of funds and since the resources require extensive research, the negative effects of oil spill in the oceans are likely to continue.
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Having realized that oils spills in oceans adversely affect the hydrologic cycle, care should be taken to stop any further oil spill that might occur. Some of the main causes of oil spill in water are the drilling rigs. From the researches carried out the ocean floor is identified as a major source of geologic resources such as: petroleum and mineral resources. This has resulted in inshore exploration activities which are continually becoming a major source of oil spills.
Given that the hydrological cycle is one of the mechanisms that make it possible for organisms to live, breaking it means that the living systems will as well die. This effect that oil spill causes on the hydrologic cycle results in a negative impact on the living systems though the effect is indirect. For the hydrologic cycle to function normally the oil spill into oceans should be completely stopped.