Gulf Oil Spill by the Numbers: 16 Different Ways to Understand the Disaster

The Deepwater Horizon disaster has leaked more than one million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The magnitude is so large that many people are struggling to put the numbers into tangible context. Cutler J. Cleveland, a Boston University professor of Geography and Environment, and the editor of the Encyclopedia of Earth, has calculated the energy equivalents for EcoSalon readers to better grasp the enormity of this disaster. Dr. Cleveland is also a Senior Fellow at the National Council for Science and the Environment.

The energy content of one million barrels is about 5.8 trillion Btu (British Thermal Units), which is equivalent to…

1. Years of energy used in a single average America home: 61,117