There are some problems with the argument that, worldwide, big tanker spills cause only about five per cent of the oil that gets into the ocean. It's an argument that minimizes concerns about oil tanker traffic proposed for B.C.'s coast.
First, the argument is based on older data. A more recent study published by the (U.S.) National Research Council in 2002 found that "accidental spills from ships" contributed 12 per cent of the oil making its way into the ocean. Another study put the figure at 14 per cent.
Another problem with the argument is that the other "discharges" - the largest source - includes pipeline ruptures.
Perhaps the most problematic error, though, lies in comparing total global oil discharges to oil in a specific place that is the result of a tanker spill.
When the Exxon Valdez spill occurred, all that oil was concentrated in an area much smaller than the size of the planet, and 100 per cent of the oil in that area was caused by the tanker.
It's silly and disingenuous to say that since such a spill is only a small percentage of the world's maritime oil pollution, and that no one should be concerned about it.
Most British Columbians, like myself, are opposed to the Enbridge pipeline, as well as to David Black's Kitimat refinery proposal, because we believe that it is only a matter of time before both the pipeline and the tankers spill, with catastrophic consequences to local flora and fauna, to say nothing of local economies reliant on fishing and tourism.
While "you and I" are polluting the environment, the answer is most certainly not to cavalierly make things worse.
Nathan Bauman, via email