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Posted on May 31st, 2012, by

The Gulf war has had very bad consequences for social, economic and political sphere of many countries-participants of the conflict. In addition, this war has had a very bad influence on the ecology of the region. During the war the worst oil spill ever known had happed. This spill resulted in the armed conflicts of 1991. Oil spill caused very serious damage in many countries situated in the Persian Gulf. Iraq and Kuwait had to fact the worst consequences of this spill. There are no exact numbers which would measure damage but different reserves state the spill was from 42 to 462 million gallons of oil. The slick, which appeared as a result of this spill, reaches about 100 miles. “Despite the uncertainty surrounding the size of the spill, figures place it 5 to 27 times the size (in gallons spilled) of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and more than twice the size of the 1979 Ixtoc I blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico”¯ (Gerges 308).

This spill appeared as a result of Iraqi actions. Iraqi government decided to dump oil into the Persian Gulf in response to the American actions. Iraqi actions aimed to prevent the landing of the American ships. According to the Iraqi version of event American army became the reason of the spill. Iraqi media spread information that Americans cussed the discharge in the oil tankers. Americans quickly distinguished the source of spill and armed forces of the U.S. destroyed pipes in order to prevent future dumping in into the Gulf.

Polluted air, water and soil became not the only consequences of the Gulf War. The damaged caused to the animals from this area is also very big. Unfortunately, people who are in power very seldom take into account the impact their actions will have on the ecology of the region. Armed conflicts in the Persian Gulf caused much damage and distraction. Animals of that region also suffered because of this war. Despite the number of efforts was made in order to limit the negative impact of war on the ecology, this still does not help much. The damage brought to animals during the war became the subject of attention during the Vietnam War. During that time a log of animals suffered because of chemical defoliation in Vietnam forests. During the Gulf War new threat for animals appeared. For the first time in history animals became the victims of oil spill, which appeared during the war. “The Gulf war added a new dimension to the risks for animals as well as humans: the use of oil as a weapon. Along with their economic and tactical effects, oil spills and fires make animals their principal living victims since, for the most part, they a re unable to escape their devastated habitats”¯ (Oil Spill Intelligence Report 18 ).

The Gulf war became the first war where it was made an attempt to calculate animal victims of war actions. For the first time researches tried to make a systematic study of the impact of the war on animals. From the other side, this very war became the first war when military forces tried to defend animals from the effects of the war. Marine birds, migratory birds, lovestock animals, same as camels and horses, became the primary animal victims of the oil spill.

The number of animal victims can be calculated only approximately and it is not a great surprise, since it becomes difficult to determine even human victims. “The number of animal casualties is only conjectural, but then again, the full human toll has yet to be determined. In this context, the hundreds of thousands of animals that died or were injured during the Gulf war – and the millions of others (primarily migratory birds) that were placed at risk – must be viewed as one more dimension of a preventable tragedy”¯ (Gerges 310). Different kinds of animals became affected by the oil spill during the war. The oil released to the Persian Gulf killed about tens of thousands of birds. In addition, it caused great damage to the sea turtles, marine animals. It also caused great harm to the migration birds, which passed through this region and this damage is hard to estimate. Toxic gases, which got into the air because of oil burning also had very dangerous consequences for the animals of the region. These gases cause respiratory diseases among all kinds of animals, living in this region. Negative effect became very visible on the example of birds and small mammals, but negative impact on bigger animals and even humans also appeared after some time. The pour of oil from Kuwait wells resulted in the appearance of big petrochemical lakes. These lakes are extremely dangerous for the land. They also create a big damage to the see when they drain there.

The water of the Persian Gulf has always been rich with different kinds of wildlife. The oil spill caused a very big damaged to these animals right after the beginning of the Gulf war. “There are more than 3,650 animal species in Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, including 50 species threatened with extinction according to the Inter national Union for the Conservation of Nature”¯ (World Conservation Monitoring Centre). All these animals were in danger right after the beginning of war actions. There is a number of spices, which are at special risk, such as Socotra cormorants, green and hawksbill turtles and dugongs, which also experienced a great damage because of the war actions. From two to three million birds migrate through this region, returning to the Europe from Africa. Despite there is not exact statistics about the damage to these birds, it is evident that they suffered because of oil spill. “As the oil moved south along the Saudi coast, it was reduced in volume through evaporation and dispersal.

Nevertheless, native marine birds including cormorants, grebes, herons, and gulls became trapped in an ooze of oil residue that was several centimetres thick along some parts of the Saudi coast”¯ (United Nations Environment Program). There are different ways, in which oil spill affected the animals of the Persian Gulf, but most of these ways are deadly for the animals. Oil soaks birds’ feathers and prevents them from flying. Birds drew or die because of the cold. When birds try to clean their feathers, the part of oil gets into their stomachs and it has negative consequences on their liver, stomachs and lungs. Finally, it causes internal haemorrhaging. Even those birds which survived after the spill can suffer from long lasting effects of this spill. They may develop blood disorders, immune system illnesses and respiratory illnesses. The number of rescue operations, performed in order to save animals did not bring much result. The number of operations was performed along the entire causality. Near Saudi city called Jubail there was created a rescue station, where experts from the Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals made all necessary procedures in order to save as many animals as possible. The process of rescue was complicated by the fact that international volunteers did not participate in the rescue operation on the territory of war actions.

Instead of international volunteers the Saudi National Commission of Wildlife Conservation and Development had to turn to the help of students and off-duty military personnel. Under such circumstance it became possible to rescue only small percentage of animals and birds. “The mortality rate was at least 75% (somewhat higher than past rehabilitation efforts, but still within an expected range), and only a few more than a hundred survivors could be rehabilitated and released, with the hope that they would not resettle in the slick”¯ (Records furnished by National Commission on Wildlife Conservation and Development to WSPA). The potential threat created by the oil spill to other animals of the Gulf is hard to estimate. Dolphins, turtles, dugongs and other rare animals can swim freely and the death rate is hard to estimate since many of them died far away from the shore. The season, when the oil spill took place became a very unfavourable factor. Since this oil spill occurred close to the nesting season, it destroyed not only grown up animals, but also their kids and eggs. Despite the fact the rescue groups put much effort in defending the nesting beaches it still did not help the situation. Luckily the slick stopped before the main places of the turtle nesting and this helped to save a big number of turtles.

When speaking about the short term effects of the Gulf war, it is necessary to take into account that this war has also long-lasting consequences on the ecology of the region. Experts state that long-lasting effects are hard to estimate, but there is no doubt that they are harmful for the environment. It is also necessary to take into account that the territory of the Gulf region was much polluted before the war broke out and war actions only complicated the situation. Oil production, being the most profitable and widespread business of this region, caused much damage to this region, but the Gulf war worsened the situation several times. Oil spill affected all kinds of living creature and nature of that region. It is also necessary to take into account that the process is not over yet. The oil is still presented in the soil and water of the Gulf. Since the temperature of the water is high, the process of oil break down goes quickly but some components will be presented in the air, water and soil for many years. The analyses of water, performed after the oil spill aimed to estimate the geographic extent of the damage. Analyses showed that water contained a lot of dangerous chemical components, which brought danger to both ”“ animals and people of that region.

The oil spill in the Persian Gulf became the biggest oil slick in the history. It caused several kinds of damage to the environment of the region. Oil, which was poured into the Gulf polluted soil, water and air of the region. People, who suffered bad consequences of the war had also to meet serious problems with the environment. Oil spill had a negative effect on the animals of the region. Marine birds and other marine animals became the worst victims of the spill. Despite the damage is hard to calculate, it is evident that it is the biggest environmental damage created by the oil spill in the human history. What it notable, this spill appeared not as a result of the terrible accident. It was made intentionally by the Iraqi authorities in order to prevent the American marines from entering the Gulf. This way Iraq created much damage to the entire region, including its own citizens. The consequences of the spill are still not liquidated completely and it is evident that great damage had worsened the ecology of the region. Unfortunately, very often political figures do not take into accounts the needs of ordinary people when making their strategic plans.

They neglects the health and even lives of ordinary people and the environment. Such actions have very poor consequences and the Gulf spill became a very bright example of such consequences.

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