May 14, 2010

Here are some pictures of the big BP oil spill the size of Maryland, and it looks...

... like nothing. Which is pretty terrible, because people are going to get tired of it. And maybe people will get tired of all the many things we're asked to feel so bad about that we can't see.


DADvocate said...

Empathy overload has been going on for years. We're told to care about everything but ourselves and our families. In those cases we're supposed to let the government do all the caring. The world is upside down.

El Pollo Real said...

...things we're asked to feel so bad about that we can't see.

Like fetuses and racism in Arizona?

AJ Lynch said...

Perhaps Rahm Emanuel can send someone down there to set it on fire. I bet he'd hate to see this crisis go to waste.

Doug Wright said...

Certainly glad that Obama's administration is on top of this event otherwise it might have turned out to be a real disaster!

./snark off

Yep, Obama's team's done a piss poor job getting to recognize the oil spill problem and to monitor drilling issues. It's almost like everything is still "Bush's" fault.

SMGalbraith said...

The last report we had (I live near Mobile) is that something around 5% of the Gulf waters regulated by the US has been isolated or quarantined.

Yeah, it's a major diaster - and that number is growing daily - but it's an awfully big Gulf.

But they have to slow it down soon. Three months until that new hole is drilled will be too late, I think.

Moose said...

This is fertile territory for the likes of George Carlin - RIP...

Methadras said...

Oil: OBAMA!!! I'm coming for you. I'm so huge now that you can't avoid me. You can't deny me. I want you, Obama!!! RAWR!!!

Obama: My name is Barack Hussein Obama and I'm sitting here. So yeah, I'm feeling pretty lucky.

edutcher said...

Oil: Lucky?? Ya feelin' lucky, PUNK?

SMGalbraith said...

5% of the Gulf waters regulated by the US has been isolated or quarantined.

That's 5% of the waters in the Gulf of Mexico under US sovereignty.

Surprisingly, very little has washed ashore. Some reports of very small tar balls but that's been about it.

Until we see pictures of dead birds and oil-soaked beaches, it'll mostly be on the back pages (and minds) of folks. Except for those who live on the coast.

Beth said...

You can find out a lot more about it, other than looking at a picture that tires you.

The dispersants BP is choosing to use can't be seen, but they're a big problem - they're toxic to seafood.

If the oil gets into the marshes, that's a terrible scenario. Beaches we can clean. Think of cleaning oil off of your skin versus getting it out of your hair. And that's a lightweight metaphor. Those marshes are estuaries and hatcheries. One-third of the seafood sold in the U.S. comes from Louisiana waters. There, you can feel bad about the food you don't see on your own plate - no empathy required!

Think economy: the families that make their living from the Gulf are hard-working people, generation after generation. The spill is taking their living from them. Your taxes will have to help address their losses - unless BP and Transocean do so. Transocean is trying to move the litigation to Houston - in large part to discourage these people from pursuing claims.

So much of nothing.

marklewin said...

The lesson here.....if you got a problem make sure it's impressively photogenic, otherwise people will believe you're full of it and get real mad.

bagoh20 said...

I'm surrounded by oil spills. We have the La Brea Tar Pits. People come from all around come to visit this pleasant park right in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world. Two hours north is Santa Barbara, where in 1969 there was a very extensive spill from an offshore well and the oil did cover the beach. It is one of the most desired places to live in the world now, with some of the highest property values and beautiful shore lines in the world. Just sayin', it's not like it's Detroit or something.

HDHouse said...

Oh I'm never going to get tired of BP frying in oil on the kitchen stove and hoping that the former Vice President throws himself into the boiling pot in his contrition.

Well, I can hope can't I?

cokaygne said...

White people along the Gulf vote Republican. Many of the non-whites will not be voting until 2012.

When will the commentariat notice that this is happening over a year into the Obama administration and start holding him accountable?

Look for Napolitano to be the fall gal when we start seeing pics of oil-covered chicks.

Calypso Facto said...

We need to dunk some puppies...people will always donate for puppies.

Beth, your numbers are a little slanted. LA produces 25% of DOMESTIC seafood, which means only about 4% of all US seafood (imports = 84%), and of that 4%, only 30% is considered at risk for 1.2% of the nation's total.

cokaygne: you mean like this?

Expat(ish) said...

I was listening to national communist radio (my pet name for NPR, where my wife still "donates" - arrrr) on the way to pickup kids from soccer and they had a very decent sounding biologist talking about the other astounding spills that were 10X and 18X the size of this and what ended up happening.

Example - this is doing 5K barrels a day, two tankers collided in 1979 and dropped 287K barrels into the ocean. The Itox well in the gulf sank in 1980 and dropped 450K barrels in the gulf.

Which you won't hear on TV, and I have no idea why they had this guy on, unless a producer made a mistake.

There was also a big discussion about the difference between what kind of oil comes out of the ground (gulf = light, alaska=heavy for example) and what the temp and wave action means.

I've since verified what I can remember on the Wikipedia intertoobs and he seems to have been straight forward.

So my take home/net-out was: light is good b/c it can disperse easier on the surface AND the oil-eating microbes can, well, eat it. Waves are good because they break up the slicks. Sun is good because it breaks down the molecules. This lets the light stuff evaporate and the microbes work. And the heavy stuff can fall to the bottom as "tarballs". Apparently millions of gallons of oil seep out of the floor of the gulf every day and just turn into tar-balls. I remember finding them on the beach at Bilouxi (maybe different place) when I was a kid. Some kids chewed them - yuck!

So maybe we'll dodge a bullet on this one. I'm from LA so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

If we do it'll be interesting to see the major networks row back their doom-mongering.


jaed said...

Why is it terrible if people get tired of having their emotions at a fever pitch over an oil spill?

Presumably, the people who are actually doing something to contain and clean up the spill aren't tired of it and don't care whether it's photogenic. So what difference does it make whether the rest of us can see horrifying pictures? Fretting about a picture doesn't get oil out of the ocean and it doesn't plug wells.

rhhardin said...

Soap opera women like it, so it's all you'll see.

They're the audience for the business model.

Politicians are just free-riding.

c3 said...

I loved the two short video clips of the reporters shooting pictures from the plane. I imagined that as the cargo door opened to the Gulf far below the photographer was thinking:
You know those computer graphic programs do a helluva job...and prettier too! What the hell am I doing here?

wv: aleve Take two for all day relief

bagoh20 said...

These kind of spills happen about every 20 years and even if it is temporarily devastating to the area (unknown at this point), it will recover and we will learn valuable lessons from it. Consequently, these things never happen for the same reason twice. The number of things that can go wrong with any large scale human endeavor is endless. I'm pretty sensitive to the environment, but I think this is an acceptable risk for the value of oil to our civilization at this point in our history. When we eventually move away from oil, partly because of the danger from it, we will have disasters of another kind and they will be worth it too. It's all our faults for wanting to move beyond the stone age. If people did stupid things to cause this, then they should be punished, but that won't stop disasters in the procurement of energy. That doesn't mean there isn't substantial political hay to make for some so inclined.

PatCA said...

Well, oil is a product of the earth, right? I guess the earth is taking care of it.

SMGalbraith said...

Here's an optimistic story that reports that it's possible that much if not most of the oil will simply dissipate: Where's the oil?

Beth said...


LSU Ag Center reports Louisiana fishermen produce 20 percent to 25 percent of the total domestic seafood in the lower 48 states; the Louisiana Seafood board says one-third. It's a $2.4 billion business.


NPR takes money from BP, so I stopped listening to their reporting. But the estimate of 5K barrels a day is dubious.

The rest of what you note - about evaporation, etc. - is exactly why I wish they wouldn't use the highly toxic dispersant and would let wave action and the sun work.

PatCA - As noted, the oil disperses by lots of means, but we have to keep it out of the wetlands. That's critical. "The earth" won't just take care of things, no.

Rain is also good for breaking it up. And the Mississippi will crest on the 19th - all that rain and snow up north this winter will help us out. There are plans to open the gates in a couple of spillways that will allow the fast, deep water from our river to flood through some at-risk wetlands and push the oil back from the shore.

But when hurricane season begins in just a couple of weeks, the real risk kicks in. Any tropical storm action will blow that stuff right through the coasts.

There was spill much larger in the Persian Gulf, and they cleaned it up with a fleet of tankers. The two guys who supervised it have tried repeatedly to get BP and the Coast Guard to employ their solution, but they're being ignored. It takes tankers out of commission and thus costs money. Right there I get into "there's a special corner of hell" thoughts.

cokaygne said...

Calypso Facto,

Well, yeah, Napolitano could fall that way.

Really, though, how come the media and the greens are giving Obama a pass on this? Look, I voted for the guy and probably will again because the Republicans are more interested in courting the bigot vote, but how does he get away with: allowing Iran to get nukes; with a multi-billion dollar stimulus program that hasn't moved the unemployment rate; with scary near-misses on mishandled terrorist attacks; with allowing the CIA to KILL AMERICAN CITIZENS resident in countries not at war with us; with running deficits that will bankrupt the next generation; and now with being asleep at the switch while BP fouls the Gulf? If Bush or Reagan or even Clinton had done any of these things the commentariat would be screaming for his head.