Today is June 12, 2010. The spill started April 20th. Let's say that's 50 days ago, for simplicity.
For several weeks, I have felt it a good quid pro quo if BP had to pay a fee PER CUBIC MILE of ocean polluted. About $2.0 billion for each cubic mile might help mitigate the destruction that continues to destroy life and the habitats that support life.
The news no one wants to consider is that the destruction will continue many decades to come, regardless of when the spill is stopped.
While it remains speculative as to how many barrels/gallons of crude have been introduced to the Gulf so far, estimates range from 20,000 40,000 barrels (bbl) a day.
Let's take an average, say 30,000 barrels x 42 gallons per barrel is 1,250,000 (rounded for simplicity) gallons of oil spilled PER DAY.
So, 50 days in we've seen about 62.5 million GALLONS of crude oil spilt.
According to research performed after the Exxon Valdez spill, 1 part in one billion was enough to disrupt fish eggs laid in polluted water. Since water is considered polluted if it cannot fulfill its intended use, and fish egg viability is definitely crucial to ongoing ecology of the Gulf, this is not an unreasonable estimate of the pollution caused by oil in water.
Since each gallon of oil spoils 1bn gallons of water"
62.5 million gallons of OIL spilt times 1,000,000,000 = 62,500,000,000,000 gallons of polluted Gulf Water
Turns out, 1 cubic mile is about 1,000,000,000,000 (trillion) gallons.
Therefore, 62,500 cubic miles of ocean have been/will be adversely affected and/or polluted (as of today!). Of course, the reality is that the oil doesn't mix well with water, and it floats, so the average of 1ppb is not achieved, far fewer cubic miles have been affected (so far) but the intensity of oil in water probably is wiping out all life in many, many cubic miles already, and many more to come.
And each day it is left uncontrolled, the spill in the gulf (1.25 million gallons times 1,000,000,000) is spoiling 1,250 (potentially, if it were being distributed equally) cubic miles of ocean.
There are 326,000,000 cubic miles of water on the planet, so don't be concerned, there is PLENTY left for us to pollute.