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White House Approves Sonic Cannons For Atlantic Energy Exploration 272

An anonymous reader writes: The White House on Friday gave final approval to allow the use of sonic cannons in finding energy deposits underneath the ocean floor on the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says that finding energy resources off the Atlantic seaboard "could generate thousands of jobs, but has also acknowledged that the process will harm sea creatures." Sonic cannons "fire sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine." Mammals such as whales and dolphins that communicate through sound will most likely be affected, but scientists aren't sure to what extent. They also aren't sure how the cannons will affect fish and other sea creatures or how any physiological effects on them may impact the fishing industries of the U.S. and the other countries who rely on seafood that migrate into and out of the Atlantic Ocean.
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White House Approves Sonic Cannons For Atlantic Energy Exploration

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  • Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:19PM (#47491981)

    Fuck the earth, we do what we want!

    • Hey man, didn't you read "could generate thousands of jobs?" Let me say that again. COULD. MAKE. THOUSANDS. JOBS.

      End of discussion. We all know the only things worse than aborting potential jobs are terrorism and taxes.
    • Re:Lol (Score:4, Funny)

      by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:57PM (#47492157) Journal

      everything is safe until we absolutely, 100%, know, for sure, with absolutely no dissent from anyone, that it is not safe.

      • Re: Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Everything is safe always, you mean. In a world with the GOP, the EPA could find that this causes a 10000% increase in sudden infant death syndrome and no ban will pass the House because of "rabble rabble job creators class warfare energy independence"

        • The GOP took the white house? And here I thought there was another 2 years or so before they even got the chance to do something like that.

  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:21PM (#47491999)
    Can they give "warning shots" for some time period ahead of time to clear the area? Can they definitively detect whether any large mammals are in the vicinity before giving the big blasts?

    Actually, even if they can, this sounds really bad, no pun intended. :(
    • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:59PM (#47492169)

      The _turf_ of bottom dwelling creatures can be quite small, especially of mollusks. Injuring them, or driving away their predators, is likely to have quite large ecological consequences. Even driving away vegetarian creatures from their feeding grounds is likely to interfere with stable ecologies.

    • I think whales in the North Pacific can hear blasts from the South Pacific, of sufficiently low frequency, such as 0.01 Hz or something like that. I haven't researched it. And from what I know, most beached whales seem to be beached over low frequency sounds in the sea, by ships and whatnot, but those sounds are constant, annoying, as opposed to a blast here and there. And if they want seismic things, they can blast underground nukes on islands, because to get a really good wave going you need a few megaton
    • by fygment ( 444210 )

      Makes sense because an animal hearing the loud sound will immediately clue-in that that was a warning shot, not a one-off, and that much louder noise is coming ... and be able to get far enough away from the source to be safe ... ... what kind of magical creatures are these?

    • Now we wish we had gone farther with those initial, aborted experiments in cetacean communication years ago. But in the absence of being able to issue warnings in "dolphin language" the idea of ramping up a series of smaller blasts before each 'big one' could work. This is how the redeye-reduction mode on a camera flash works.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've heard a geologist speak of doing this in the Mediterranean. I would hope the experience would allow them to do more than speculate about the effects on animals.

  • Thanks Obama! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is just disgusting news

  • I want one (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eyegone ( 644831 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:37PM (#47492061)
    I don't care what they're supposed to be used for. They may be civilization's last hope of controlling my children.
  • Other loud noises (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ishmaelflood ( 643277 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:38PM (#47492073)

    I wonder how loud they are compared with underwater explosions, volcanoes and seaquakes?

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      210 dB 2.0 earthquake (sound force is the equivalent of holding a stick of dynamite).
      235 dB 5.0 earthquake
      248 dB atom bomb
      310 dB loudest volcano that we know of (happened in 1883)

    • What, intruding actual scale and proportion into a political argument?

      Off with his head!

  • BAD,Bad, Bad! (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 )
    Providing jobs means absolutely nothing nor does the profit of business. Anything that does harm to the land or oceans should be a felony. People come and go. The land and the oceans must exist for all people in all generations. Our needs are simply not a consideration. The horror of anything in the Arctic or extreme north is even worse as when accidents occur we have no ability to restore or mitigate a disaster.
    • Re:BAD,Bad, Bad! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:06AM (#47492195) Homepage

      You are the reason environmentalism gets discredited. Of course our needs are a consideration. The oceans must exist for future generations to do what for them? Fulfill their needs. The first imperative of every species is survival, that is nature. We can talk about balance or relative cost, but there is no way that humans are going to agree to extinct themselves.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        I frankly doubt that not using sonic cannons to look for new sources of oil would be an extinction level event. The GP is exaggerating, but so are you.
        • by jbolden ( 176878 )

          Of course it wouldn't. But not "harming" the oceans or land i.e. not utilizing resources would be an extinction level event. All animals, humans included need to pull resources from those sources to live.

  • by Rigel47 ( 2991727 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:48PM (#47492111)
    They know that above all the oil must flow. Without the oil that came from the fracking boom oil would probably be at $150/barrel or higher. Without flowing oil the economy suffers (many past recessions were precipitated by high oil prices), the common man starts to get irritated at higher food prices, less disposable income.. for those that had disposable income to start with. The house of cards starts to sway even more.

    Cheap oil is the real bread and circus that keeps the masses subdued. Some dead whales and dolphins isn't even a consideration.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So You're saying oil is cheap now??? You are blind to investor trading. Who is buying oil at $120 a barrel? We don't know because it's a 'privacy thing'. Or trade secret they say How convenient.... So what if BIG oil is buying their own commodity to keep the #s up. Saudi Arabia said they would be happy with $50 to 60 a barrel and yet it is double where it realistically should be, according to commodity analysts. I have studied it. So saying it would be $150 is a lie and scare tactic. Because THAt is exact
      • To expand on the sibling's post about Saddam switching oil sales to Euros :

        The economy of the US is propped up by a vast debt. We're not talking loans to banks, or China. We're talking petrodollars.

        The de-facto currency that oil is traded in was for a long time, the US dollar. Which meant that nations speculated in it, hoarded it, retained reserves of it for the purpose of trading oil.

        This meant that the US printed more dollars with impunity, as long as oil markets expanded, meaning the government enjoyed t

    • Our food supply is based on oil. We don't rotate crops anymore. We couldn't possibly make enough food if we did. Instead we generate nitrogen as a by-product of oil and pump it back into the soil.

      If the oil stops flowing some Americans might have to tighten their belts, but people around the world that depend on our surplus food would just starve...
      • 70% of US corn is fed to livestock. Because of all the economic subsidy that corn receives this means the price of meat in the US is artificially low.

        US meat consumption is multiple times that of the next nearest nation ; even if you cut your meat consumption by half, you'd still be eating a lot of meat, and you'd free up vast tracts of agricultural land to grow other crops.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Nitrogen-based fertilizers generally come from natural gas, not oil, FYI. Of the three main sources of fossil energy (coal, oil, natural gas), oil is generally by far the most expensive per joule.

        Also, I don't think your comparison is that simple that if yields decline, people die. If there was a global food shortage due to reduced yields per acre, the price spike would hit meat the hardest, practically driving grainfed meat off the market. A calorie of grainfed beef takes over 12 calories of grain to produ

    • by saleenS281 ( 859657 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @02:56AM (#47492705) Homepage
      Or, if they went back to banning speculation on commodities, oil would be $25/barrel. But not allowing wall street to fuck us would be anti-American and borderline COMMUNIST!
    • by jovius ( 974690 )

      The time of cheap and unconventional oil is over. Shale and deep water sources are unconventional and they wouldn't be profitable with the oil prices known in the last millennium. Besides in terms of oil used to extract oil they are also more costly.

      The most reasonable solution is to move forward from hydrocarbons. That era is soon over and besides the dependency upkeeps certain political trenches. If an oil or energy company is shortsighted they will oppose this, but the companies who develop alternatives

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:50PM (#47492123)

    When sonar is used, it can create sound pressure levels of 140dB 300 miles from the source []. The sound is so excruciating that whales will surface too fast and get the bends, and/or beach themselves, just to escape the sound.

    Yup, let's rape our irreplaceable planet some more while torturing innocent, intelligent creatures. After all, they aren't human, and our comfort, convenience, and entertainment are so much more important than their lives.

    • According to a more informative article [], this won't be nearly as bad, then.

      180 decibels. The maximum underwater noise from sonic cannons allowed within 500 meters, mitigating physical damage to marine mammals.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      The article is full of crap:

      Some systems operate at more than 235 decibels, producing sound waves that can travel across tens or even hundreds of miles of ocean

      BS. 235 decibels is louder than almost all volcanos. That's essentially a 31megaton explosion. The navy has tested ship based sonar of that power but only experimentally. No submarine has every carried anything remotely like that. Sonar in use on subs maxes out at around 180 dB, which is still about the equivalent of a 1lb explosion but nowhe

    • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:33AM (#47492303) Journal
      Decibels used in SONAR are referenced to 1 microPascal; deciBels used in audio are referenced to 20 microPascals. Thus there is a 26 dB difference in level. A level of 140 dB underwater is the same as 114 dB SPL (in air). About a mid-level peak at an EDM club. Source: designing SONAR systems for scientific and fisheries research for the better part of a decade...
    • Um, that's a bit of a puzzle, the whale breathes in air at atmospheric pressure, therefore to a first order approximation the air in its body can't be at much more than that after compression and then surfacing.

      I'm not saying its impossible, but I can't see what pressure is driving the nitrogen deep into joints etc, it should all be in equilibrium.

      the whole point with bends and SCUBA is that you are breathing high pressure air, and so high pressure nitrogen diffuses into the parts of the body with lower par

  • by marciot ( 598356 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:54PM (#47492141)

    1) Fish Deafness Specialist
    2) Hearing Aid Designer for Dolphins
    3) Bass Boosting Headphone Maker for Bass
    4) ASL Teachers for Octopi
    5) Jellyfish Mending Seamstress
    6) Aquatic PTSD Therapist
    7) Exploding Whale Cleanup Crew

    • ...

      8) Coral Relocation Consultants
      9) Cochlear Implant Maker for Conchs
      10) Ear Surgeons for Sturgeon
      11) Disability Lawyers for Sharks
      12) Mime School Professor for Deaf and Dumb Clownfish
      13) Burst Blowfish Re-Inflation Technician
      14) Electric Eel Defibrillation Nurse

      I'll be hear all week, folks!

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:17AM (#47492225)

    This will create a Sharknado, won't it?

  • ... short. If they just blast away continuously for days that might be an issue. But if they do it for an hour or so every day that probably won't matter.

    Think of it like the noisy neighbor... if they have a loud phone conversation or violent sex or blast party music for a couple hours every day... it probably won't be a literal threat to your health. It might be annoying but you're not going to get ill or die or something.

    But if someone does it to you every day all day for days on end... then yeah... you m

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:50AM (#47492371) Homepage Journal
    Just because they don't have exact figures, doesn't mean they don't know the outcome. They've already seen the effects our underwater noise making with naval craft and underwater military technology has had. But hey, as long as they can say "we don't know exactly100% for sure" it's A-OK, because the US needs jobs. And so the self-proclaimed "most transparent", "pro middle-class", "pro environment", "anti-lobbyist" President in History® gives BP, Shell and Exxon the OK to drive aquatic mammals into killing themselves and to suffer social separation because that's EXACTLY what they already know happens when we bombard the ocean with sonic disturbances. They just don' t know HOW MUCH WORSE it will be. just that it will be worse.
  • So, in Brussels there is a office to subsidize food production and another to destroy the food surplus according to Minister Hacker. Now we will have oil spills to destroy all the effort put into restoring the Chesapeake Bay. It used to be funny on TV, but in real life it just looks stupid.
  • - Jobs in danger
    - Jobs created
    - Freedom
    - Security

    Look who is talking and who is supporting (bribing) them.

    Applies to all politicians in the US where the supreme court is smoking what? - pot, no cannot be, they would be more sensible.

  • Whales:...what's that sonny?

    I SAID I'M SORRY!!!!!!!

    Poor bastards can't hear a damn thing ever since we started with our sonic blasters.
  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @04:21AM (#47492879) Homepage
    When you can kill off the coasts to get a few more scraps to move everyone along until the US finds more oil owning brown people it can 'liberate'.
    • Figure out what level of energy use, as a whole, is acceptable by your calculations. Then figure out how much that means you get to use. Make sure to include all forms of energy usage, such as heating and energy used in building and delivering goods. Adjust your energy use to meet that level, and see how that goes. Then we can talk. Otherwise, kindly STFU.

      The reason I say this is not because I'm against trying to reduce energy consumption, I think conservation is always a good idea when practical, but becau

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> I think conservation is always a good idea when practical,

        Just like every other change, conservation will require some compromise somewhere else, so if you always prioritize other sources of endless short term issues (such as business/economics/politics) above long term planning activities such as conservation, no conservation will ever get done at all.

        It always amazes me to see how completely short-term most thinking in the US is. It is truly bizarre to me how most Americans will make excuses for

  • I don't like the "energy" euphemism, they're not searching for some tidy glowing yellow stuff like something from an RTS game. Let's call it what it is. OIL. Wildlife-gooping, coast-ruining, fossil-carbon-filled, toxic oil that needs to have more energy dumped into it to be refined into something we can use.

  • So long, and thanks for the all fish!

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"