Over the years, the Pentagon has played an increasing role in disaster assistance, and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is no exception. Is it too much when the US military is fighting two wars?
Despite BP's efforts, only a small percentage of the oil from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be cleaned up, say experts.
The oil spill issuing from the sunken oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is not yet an immediate threat to the Louisiana coast. But the longer it spreads, the greater the risk to the fragile ecosystem.
The science and history behind oil spills.
The Dust Bowl. During the 1930s, a period of severe dust storms engulfed the American and Canadian prairie lands. The cause: a severe drought coupled with decades of land misuse that left topsoil susceptible to the wind. The so called "black blizzards" forced hundreds of thousands of people in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Minnesota to abandon their farms, exacerbating the dire economic conditions of the Great Depression. This image shows a dust storm approaching Stratford, Texas, on April 18, 1935.
An estimated 20,000 gallons of crude oil remain trapped in the gravelly beaches of Prince William Sound, Alaska, long after the Exxon Valdez oil spill..
On April 26, weathered oil is seen near the coast of Louisiana from a leaking pipeline that resulted from an explosion on a Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. Crews are working with robot submarines to activate a shutoff device known as a blowout preventer to close off the flow of oil at the sunken rig's well head. Hundreds of miles of marshes, barrier islands, and white sand beaches are threatened by the approaching oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil companies are eyeing Alaska's largely untapped outer continental shelf. Critics say that's another Exxon Valdez waiting to happen.