Deepwater Horizon: quit freaking out already

When I heated my home with oil, I used an average of 800 gallons a year. I have found that I can keep comfortably warm for an entire winter with slightly over half that quantity of beer.
~Dave Barry

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I guess it’s finally time I mention some “news” on this bitch.

Deepwater Horizon. A “potentially unprecedented environmental disaster” according to our president. Uh huh. Apparently so unprecedented that More Minimal decided to devote thirteen blog entries to it.

Even if the spill really is more like ten times what BP has said, well, it’s still not even in the top ten for accidental oil disasters:

(From the BBC via No Agenda)

Note that that chart doesn’t even include the Gulf War oil spill, which was not accidental and is considered to be the largest spill in history.

Also keep in mind the position of the spill and the relative location of the Gulf “dead zone.”

No, the spill shouldn’t have happened. It will have a negative impact on wildlife and livelihoods in the area. But it’s not an “unprecedented” disaster. Hell, the Valdez oil spill was way the fuck up there in Alaska, and I imagine help took a lot longer to get there. It was also a (so far) bigger spill in an ecosystem much less abused.

Of course, Rush Limbaugh is spouting bullshit about eco-terrorism. Whatever, Rush. There are some monkey-wrenching idiots out there, but I doubt even they’d purposefully damage a drilling rig. Could they even get access to the damn thing?

Hah, now that I’m looking at it, even Wikipedia is trying to proclaim it “one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history.” Of course, that claim is based off a single NPR article, which just goes to show you why you should be skeptical of any claims Wikipedia makes. It may be one of the worst, sure, but let’s not blow this shit out of proportion, and frankly, I’d call manifest destiny the worst environmental disaster in US history. But that’s just personal opinion.

In the meantime, I’m wondering why this guy hasn’t given himself a heart attack or just hung himself yet. Note the lack of anything backing up his figures and the claim that “one quart of motor oil make[s] 250,000 gallons of ocean water toxic to wildlife.” I would imagine that quarts of motor oil make it into the damn ocean all the time. The oceans are not exactly pristine, people. Especially on the Louisiana coast. How many people change their car’s oil and don’t dispose of it properly, and how much of that ends up running off into the oh-so-conveniently-placed Gulf?

In the meantime, please consider the fact that the oil companies will likely use this to their advantage (discussed at 79:50).

My point is that yes, it’s a terrible disaster. I’m not arguing against that. But let’s not run around like chickens with our heads cut off and proclaim bullshit for the sake of a media soundbite. Instead, why don’t we all focus our attention on fixing the problem. Hyping this up is only going to hurt in the long run.

This is another reason why I don’t follow the news very much. Everything gets misquoted or blown out of proportion for the sake of attention.

EDIT: A quick Google search turns up the source of that “one quart” figure. It says that five quarts of motor oil can contaminate a million gallons of fresh water. This is a far cry from rendering thousands of gallons of saltwater toxic. The ultimate source is given as a 1983 edition of NRC’s “Oil in the Sea.” I searched the 2003 edition and couldn’t find the figure, but it’s a 200+ page document, I may have missed it. However, it did mention this:

“As a result of high volume of tanker traffic, large number of oil and gas platforms, heavy input from the Mississippi River, and occurrence of natural oil seeps, the northwestern Gulf of Mexico experiences some of the largest average, annual inputs of petroleum to North American marine waters.”


One Response to “Deepwater Horizon: quit freaking out already”

  1. Okay, this one hits kinda close to home. I’ve spent most of my life fishing in the Gulf. About the only very large impact that I expect to see from this is nasty sludge on the beaches for a while and water/wetland population decreases. Not to say those don’t such, but this is -far- from an End of the World scenario. I don’t even think it’s an End of the Fish.

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