Tag Archives: energy

Joe Oliver, Dangerous Allies and Carbon Footprints [updated]

Oil sands pipeline battle turns ugly | Environment | guardian.co.uk.

Cananda’s natural resources minister Joe Oliver has issued a public letter, which an article in the Guardian calls “an extraordinary rant,” attacking opponents of the tar sands pipelines, including Keystone XL, saying they have a “radical ideological agenda” and “dangerous allies.”

“They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources,” he said.

Oliver would know all about ideological agendas and dangerous allies.  His background is in investment banking and securities–you know, the folks who brought you the global financial crisis:

Prior to his election to Parliament, Mr. Oliver had a career in the investment banking industry. He began his investment banking career at Merrill Lynch, and served in senior positions at other investment dealers and as Executive Director of the Ontario Securities Commission. He was then appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada. (via Meet Joe « Joe Oliver.)

Clearly, based on their sterling role shepherding the global economy, investment bankers are the best choice for overseeing natural resources.   Seriously, though, if you appoint someone with this background as natural resources minister, your take on things is pretty clear: nature is a pile of economic resources to be exploited for profit. So it’s hardly surprising that Oliver is apoplectic about resistance to his money-spinning plans for pipelines running across the continent and oil shipping in sensitive waters.

As for his comment about the carbon footprint of those “jet-setting celebrities” who have opposed the Keystone XL project and other tar sands exploitation projects, I’ve written to his office and requested that he provide details on his carbon footprint, both in his role as minister and also personally, for himself and his family, as well as for any businesses in which he might hold a controlling interest.  In the interests of full disclosure and a “fair and balanced” assessment of his attack. In this day and age, it really makes sense to request ecological as well as economic transparency and accountability from government officials.

[Update: Still haven’t heard from him.]

If you want to write to him yourself, the email address for his Ottawa office is: joe.oliver@parl.gc.ca

Finally, in the current climate of the war on terrorism, and after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act with its provision for indefinite detention, language about “dangerous allies” and “radical ideology” should sound alarm bells.  In the UK, we’ve seen recently the extent of government infiltration of radical environmental and peace groups. It doesn’t seem a huge leap to imagine groups such as those, groups branded as dangerous and as having a “radical ideology,” in the UK, the United States and Canada, getting identified as “terrorist” and subject to the full power of the endless war, anti-terrorist surveillance state that the US is fast become.

For more…

BP – Bad People

BP: British Petroleum – Big Profits, Bad People.

Brazen Plutocrats. Brain-damaged Petrol-sniffers. Borehole Punked, Bungling Propellerheads.

Beastly Patricians. Bastante Pooheads. Bigus Prickus. Benefiting Plastics. Base Parasites. Borderline Psychotics. Black Pudding. Befitting Panic.

Broken Planet.

Op-Ed Columnist – An Unnatural Disaster: “Where I was wrong,” said President Obama at his press conference on Thursday, “was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.”… (via NYTimes.com.)

A few more ledes and links below…
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BP’s real oil spill response plan…

Screw around for a couple of months with pantyhose, golf balls and toxic chemicals, and then don’t pay.

Oil Spill: A Photo Diary Pictures

Did Government Officials Actually Read BP’s Oil Spill Response Plan?

Like other oil companies seeking permits for offshore drilling projects in U.S. waters, BP was required to submit an oil spill response plan to the Minerals Management Service (MMS), a sub-agency of the U.S. Interior Department. The question is whether anybody in the federal government actually read it before giving BP its offshore drilling permits?

A careful review of BP’s 583-page oil spill response plan by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals, shows a document that is “studded with patently inaccurate and inapplicable information,” according to the PEER assessment.

(via About.com Guide to Environmental Issues.)

There’s a certain symmetry here: the Minerals Management Service spends their time watching porn, whacked out on crystal meth, rather than reading spill response plans – but on the other hand, BP writes those plans as if they were high on crack.

The people in MMS probably said, “Hey, this plan is a piece of shit, so we might as well get fucked up and horny rather than read it.” Or maybe they were just too busy going out to dinner and to the game on the oil companies’ dime to do their jobs – so much easier to “let oil and gas company workers fill out their inspection forms.”

After all, if there’s a spill, BP will get it dealt with, right? It’s not like it will drag out for months. They must have a real response lying around somewhere. And the law says they have to pay for damages…

What’s that? Damages to wildlife and livelihoods are capped at $75 million? Really? And how much does BP make? $66 million a day.

News analysis – BP oil spill: can environmental crime ever be made to pay?

Million dollar fines and compensation claims may dent the profits of BP and other companies admitting responsibility for ecological disasters but, on their own, are they enough of a deterrent?

The full cost of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to marine and coastal ecology along the US south east coastline, both now and in the future, is only just being realised.

BP has admitted ‘full responsibility’ for the spill, which occurred after an underwater explosion on its Deepwater Horizon oil rig. A blow-out prevention device that guards against such accidents was not working and an extra device fitted for emergencies was not present on the oil rig.

How much is enough?

In a damning statement, the US environmental group the Sierra Club said that BP, which makes more in profit in a week than it has spent on responding to the oil spill so far, should be liable for a limitless amount of costs.

‘There is no limit on the damage done to wildlife. There is no limit on the damage done to coastal communities. There is no limit on the loss of jobs in fishing and tourism. There shouldn’t be a limit on the amount that oil companies like BP are required to pay for cleanup,’ a spokesperson said.

Already more than 19,000 compensation claims have been made, mostly from fishermen. However, the maximum oil companies like BP are liable to pay for such claims is $75 million. A bill aimed at increasing that liability cap to $10 billion has so far been blocked by lawmakers in the Senate who offer the excuse it could adversely impact on small oil drilling companies who can’t afford the liability.

(via The Ecologist.)

Congressional Republicans are trying to make sure that BP’s bill for the losses they have inflicted on the people, communities, plants and animals of the Gulf of Mexico is limited to little more than a day’s profit.

In light of all this, Daniel Gross looks for answers to the question, “What’s the best way to punish BP for the oil spill?“, but isn’t able to come up with anything that seems proportionate to BP’s arrogance and negligence, or to the scale of the environment catastrophe still – with yet another attempt by BP to cap the spill having failed – going on…

What’s the best way to punish BP for the oil spill? – By Daniel Gross

How To Punish BP – Fine? Boycott? Lawsuit? What’s the best way to make the company pay for the oil spill?

The damage from BP’s oil spill is mounting. The lucrative tourism business in Florida is suffering. Housing predictor estimates that homes in the path of the leak will lose ‘at least 30 percent in value as a result of the environmental catastrophe.’ The thriving seafood industry in the Gulf has largely been shut down. Huge quantities of oil have been wasted. The spill may cause severe long-term damage to sea life in the Gulf, destroy sensitive coastal marshes, and send oil washing up on Atlantic Ocean beaches. And don’t forget all the jobs and profits that could have materialized from opening up new areas to offshore drilling—but that likely won’t thanks to the spill.

Meanwhile, BP is displaying a frustrating combination of incompetence and insouciance. What with this spill, the explosion in 2005 at an oil refinery in Texas City that killed 15 people, and another spill in the Trans-Alaska pipeline, which it operates, you get the sense that BP is very unlucky or not particularly good at running its operations safely or not particularly interested in the well-being of America’s environment.

Which brings us to the $64 billion question: BP should pay—and pay dearly—for the damage. But how much? And, more importantly, how? What should the United States do to BP that would be satisfying, punish the company appropriately, and, most importantly, provide incentives for BP and other oil firms to act with greater care? I’ve puzzled over this and have come up with a few ideas—none of them very satisfying….(via Slate Magazine.)

For “live” coverage of the attempt to stop the spill of oil, check out: BP oil spill: ‘top kill’ live coverage | Environment | guardian.co.uk.

BP Oil Spill: Yet More Ledes, Excerpts and Links – May 8 through May 22

“Twenty-four miles of Plaquemines parish is destroyed.
Everything in it is dead.”
– Billy Nungesser, head of the parish in southern Louisiana

“This is what everyone wanted to avoid, because the wetlands are
the nursery for everything that swims or crawls in the Gulf of Mexico.”
– John Hocevar, Greenpeace

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is “relatively tiny” compared with the “very big ocean”
– BP CEO Tony Hayward

A follow up to my previous collection of ledes and excerpts – with links – these ones covering the period from May 8 through May 22. (Note: As before, the full post is fairly long, with a number of pictures, so if you have a slow or limited internet connection, be warned.)

Before that, some observations…

Among the most disturbing news to come out in the last few days of coverage of the Deepwater Horizon / BP oil spill:

  • Even BP now acknowledges its estimate of the rate of the spill as 5,000 barrels of oil a day was woefully inadequate. The actual rate of the spill may be as much as 20 times larger than the figure that BP has insisted on for the last month.
  • After a month of stonewalling and downplaying the severity of the disaster, BP has bowed to pressure and is now allowing access to the live video feed of the spill that scientists have been demanding. What other data are they withholding? And what of efforts to prevent reporters from reaching the site of the spill?
  • The chemical dispersant/cleaner used by BP has now be banned – as too toxic and inadequate. All along scientists have warned of the impact of the dispersant, which some have argued may just make matters worse because of its toxic impact. And in fact, a better – more effective and less toxic – dispersant has apparently been available. The chemical used by BP is banned in the UK as too toxic.
  • Oil is washing ashore on beaches, wetlands and marshes in the Gulf region, destroying fragile wetlands that are the incubators for a large percentage of the birds, fish and animals of the Gulf. By destroying these breeding grounds, used by migratory birds and others, the oil spill will impact the environment throughout North and South America, from the Arctic to Antarctica.
  • Oil is being taken up into the Loop Current and is being carried toward Florida and the Atlantic, so it may also end up affecting Western Europe.
  • Police were turning back reporters trying to reach beaches on which oil was washing ashore.

Given BP’s repeated failures to stem the disastrous flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, use of toxic chemicals to try to minimize the apparent extent of the spill, stonewalling on access to data on the rate of the spill while insisting on a figure universally derided as woefully underestimating the actual damage, apparent efforts to block reporters from accessing the site of the spill, and general fuckwittery (eg, the BP CEO calling oil spill ‘relatively tiny’), why is BP still in charge of efforts to contain and clean up the spill?

At what point does the government step in and say “BP, you’ve blown it – we’re taking over, and we’ll send you the bill”?

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BP Oil Spill: Extensive Collection of Ledes, Excerpts and Links – April 30 through May 7

Like the gushers of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, the past month has seen a massive outpouring of reports and analysis on the Deepwater Horizon / BP oil spill and environmental catastrophe in progress off the coast of Louisiana.

Were I off a conspiracy frame of mind – which of course I am not – I might try to suggest that “they” are trying to prevent us from thinking carefully and critically about what is happening by burying us under a tidal wave of verbiage, with yesterday’s plans superseded by today’s, and dozens of theories of the cause, and estimates of the amount of oil, competing for our attention.

This is what is happening, but I don’t think it is a conspiracy actively being pursued by the infamous “they.” Rather, it is 100s of reporters scrambling each day for copy to file, and – much more disturbingly – government agencies and the oil industry thrashing around in their ignorance and incompetence, unable to come up with real solutions, while corporate PR flacks and spin doctors try to cover up as much as possible, and scientists scramble to make sense of what is happening from the point of view of their various disciplines.

To make matters worse, the efforts of reporters and scientists to produce accurate and in-depth news and analysis have been actively and consciously hampered by the corporate flacks – by, for example, delaying the release of data, resisting attempts to gain access to the video feeds of the oil gushers, and so on. Even more disturbing have been the reports of government collusion with BP in blocking access to the spill and to information. A few days ago, reports circulated of BP ships blocking access to the spill site at sea, with Coast Guard officers onboard these boats colluding in these efforts. More recently, police officers have apparently been attempting to prevent reporters visiting beaches where oil has washed ashore. I suspect these are local and individual actions rather than part of active government collusion at a high level, but even so… The public officials involved in such things should have bricks dropped on them from a great height.

I’ve been following this story since the explosion, in mainstream and progressive news outlets, as well as on commentary and discussion websites and blogs, and I’ve collected some of the more useful, intelligent, provocative and/or outrageous pieces on the oil spill for you.

Below the fold, you’ll find an extensive compendium of ledes and excerpts – with links – from these articles and discussions, arranged in chronological order. This post consists of the bulk of the articles for the period from April 30 through May 7. Later today or tomorrow, I’ll post ledes and excerpts for May 8 through May 21.

(Note: The full post is very long, with a number of pictures, so if you have a slow or limited internet connection, be warned.)

Before that, a couple of general overview pieces:

Oil spill cleanup, containment efforts, hearings in wake of gulf disaster: In the Gulf of Mexico and along the coastline, cleanup and containment efforts continue after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig April 20. (via The Washington Post – includes large selection of photos on the oil spill.)

How Long Will the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Last?: More than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez foundered off the coast of Alaska, puddles of oil can still be found in Prince William Sound. Nearly 25 years after a storage tank ruptured, spilling oil into the mangrove swamps and coral reefs of Bahia Las Minas in Panama, oil slicks can still be found on the water. And more than 40 years after the barge Florida grounded off Cape Cod, dumping fuel oil, the muck beneath the marsh grasses still smells like a gas station… (via Scientific American.)

The 2010 Gulf Oil Spill: A Timeline – Newsweek – slideshow with 23 photos  [post removed]

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BP Oil Spill: Where’s a folksinger when you need her? [updated]

Like so many people these days, I’ve been following the unfolding disaster of BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with fascinated dismay. I’ve also been following the responses to the oil spill, with at times something more like hope.

The online world – Public Sphere2.0 – has been quick to respond with things like the various images, videos, graphics and data mashups listed on thedailygreen.com7 Shocking Ways to Visualize the Gulf Oil Spill. And in a still developing story, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming pressured BP into releasing a live video feed of the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. According to a report in The Huffington Post, the live feed should be available through the Select Committee website later today/tonight.

And of course the environmental catastrophe of the BP spill has provided rich fodder for political commentators and talk show hosts on TV and radio – both left and right, the serious and the not-so-serious – ranging from Rush Limbaugh saying The Sierra Club is responsible to Jon Stewart’s take, as usual one of the funniest and most incisive: ‘We’re All Going To Die!’.

And Keith Olbermann on msnbc has a nice YouTube-inspired video mashup on the spill:

And in one of the best cyberactivism efforts to come out of the spill so far,  the “Louisiana Bucket Brigade” and students at Tulane University have come up with a crowdsourced  Oil Spill Crisis Map:

This map visualizes reports of the effects of the BP oil spill submitted via text message, email, twitter and the web. Reports of oil sightings, affected animals, odors, health effects and human factor impacts made by the eyewitnesses and the media populate points on a this public, interactive, web based map. The information will be used to provide data about the impacts of the spill in real time as well as document the story of those that witness it.

What we haven’t had yet is a musical response.

In the past, folk musicians have been fairly quick to jump in with rabble-rousing tunes on war, racism, political violence, logging and other issues of concern (“It’s as easy as C-F-G”), so I went looking for something on oil spills – after all, this BP spill off Louisiana may be the biggest in history, but it is by no means the first oil spill we’ve seen or which has grabbed the public’s attention.

You’d be surprised how hard it is to find a good song on oil… I did find one track called “Oil Spill” – from the soundtrack by Leonard J. Paul to the excellent Canadian documentary, The Corporation – but it’s not really what I had in mind.

One of our best topical troubadors, Billy Bragg has a song about oil, but it’s not aimed at oil spills – rather at the role that the insatiatable appetite for oil in the USA, and Europe, has played in the conflicts in the Middle East and the wars in Iraq :  Billy Bragg, “The Price of Oil” – released as a free download on his official website ( Billy Bragg ).

The closest I could get to something that really captured my feelings about this spill was a song from Nigeria. Nigeria is a country that has long suffered from problems associated with the oil industry there – ranging from spills and environmental damage to political corruption to the assassination of political and environmental activists.

Nigeria is also the source of Afrobeat music and one of my favorite musicians, Fela Kuti. And Fela has a song attacking the impact of foreign corporations that I thought would do – at least until the folk musicians get off their collective ass and give us something inspiring we can sing along to. Given how BP is stealing the Gulf of Mexico from the future, despoiling it for generations, and trying to evade responsibility – financial and otherwise – they certainly qualify as an “International Thief Thief.”

Fela Kuti, “I.T.T. (International Thief Thief)” (the song starts out quiet, so don’t be fooled into thinking there is a problem with the link)

BP Oil Spill: Where’s the oil?

Fox commentator asks “where’s the oil?”

Breathtakingly denialistic. Not just asking “where’s the oil,” but saying we’ll have to wait and see if it this spill is bigger than Exxon Valdez – (a) there’s universal agreement that it’s going to be much bigger, and (b) what a sterile argument – even if it were a bit smaller, it is still clearly big enough to be a disaster. (Thanks to Roger Ebert’s twittering for bringing this video to my attention.)

One answer to the deranged question “where’s the oil” – actually, a whole series of answers – is provided by a very useful, and disturbing, post on thedailygreen.com. They provide a series of photographs and video clips of the BP oil spill, and also a number of graphical representations of the spill that aid in grasping its full extent, such as this one, showing the oil spill overlaid on a Google Earth image of the New York area:

Gulf Oil Spill Photos – Video: 7 Shocking Ways to Visualize the Gulf Oil Spill — Photos, Video and Beyond

Apps, graphics, photos and video of the unfolding environmental disaster. Be prepared to be moved to action.

(via thedailygreen.com.)

As to the extent of BP’s oil spill, numerous articles, reports and scientific studies have weighed in; the only thing we still need to “wait and see” about, despite that Fox commentator’s suggestion and the astounding resistance of the BP flacks, is just how much bigger than Exxon Valdez this spill will end up being:

Guess how much oil is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico: “There’s a new game in town: guess how many barrels of oil are gushing from BP’s ruptured well into the Gulf of Mexico every day.

Using video showing the movement of oil spewing from the well, mechanical engineer Steven Wereley of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, estimates that the well is losing 70,000 barrels of oil a day. That’s equivalent to an Exxon Valdez disaster every four days, and more than 10 times the 5000 barrels a day estimated by BP.

“We are not recognising these numbers at all,” a spokesperson for BP told New Scientist. The oil company maintains there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill by analysing oil moving out of the pipe. Really?

(via Short Sharp Science.)

(This item comes from a new feature/blog/feed on the website for New Scientist – which I generally find to be extremely useful – called “Short Sharp Science” – the name an obvious play on the phrase “short sharp shock.” Which is appropriate because it tends to feature a “shock” style of journalism which I think does a disservice to New Scientist and to the issues they cover. They have used sensationalistic and somewhat misleading headlines for serious climate change issues, and here they make a sort of joke out of the oil spill. Actually, it is not so much the joke aspect that bothers me as the fact that describing attempts to estimate the full extent of the oil spill as “a game,” even simply as an attention-grabber, tends to trivial these efforts and cast into doubt the whole enterprise – lending “aid and comfort” to brain-damaged clowns like the Fox commentator, Brit Hume. He can go on the intellectually airless void of Fox News and say that New Scientist describes attempts to estimate the extent of the spill as “a game.”)

It’s not just the idiot ideologues at Fox and venal BP spokespersons who are underestimating, downplaying or dismissing the full extent of the oil spill. According to a story on NPR, even the “official” government estimates may be drastically inadequate. Scientists studying all the available data on the spill are coming up with figures that show it may be as much as 10 times greater than those official estimates, perhaps even more:

Gulf Oil Spill May Far Exceed Government, BP Estimates: “The amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico may be at least 10 times the size of official estimates, according to an exclusive analysis conducted for NPR.

At NPR’s request, experts examined video that BP released Wednesday. Their findings suggest the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe. But scientists say there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that.

via Gulf Oil Spill May Far Exceed Government, BP Estimates : NPR.

I was a bit surprised, but not astonished, to find people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck raising the spectre of conspiracy in relation to the disaster at the oil rig. What did astonish me was this – a poll showing that ten percent of Americans think environmentalists may be behind the disaster:

Poll: Ten percent of Americans believe environmentalists intentionally caused oil spill: “Ten percent of Americans believe environmentalists intentionally sabotaged the oil rig Deepwater Horizon off the Gulf Coast according to a poll released Tuesday, apparently as part of a ploy to reduce Americans’ support for offshore drilling.

(via Raw Story.)

It’s hard to believe this, to fathom how deluded conspiracy theories like this could gain any credence whatsoever. The only explanation is the traction that people like Beck and Limbaugh have with a significant segment of the public. Which is deeply disturbing, a disaster whose long-term implications may be more profound and toxic even than the oil spill. It highlights the danger of having such extensive public platforms given over to people who are willing to say just about anything. If they go too far, they can always retract or apologize – but as we have seen time and time again, those retractions never fully undo the effects of the original statement, and frequently come far too late. It also points to the need for continued engagement in the public sphere, for the daily, hourly effort of rebutting these people and putting out real information, and different perspectives.

One website that does a good job of this – though not of course to an audience like that of Fox – is TomDispatch.com, “a regular antidote to the mainstream media,” which has an excellent discussion of the evolving oil spill crisis:

The Oil Rush to Hell: “It took President Obama 24 days to finally get publicly angry and “rip” into BP and its partners for the catastrophic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. What was he waiting for? The pattern has been obvious enough: however bad you thought it was, or anyone said it was at any given moment, it’s worse (and will get worse yet). Just take the numbers.

For a more hopeful and positive story out of the oil spill, there’s this, from TreeHugger:

14 Year-old Girl Confronts BP for Lack of Oil Spill Education Efforts: “at a tense town hall-style meeting that gathered fishermen, federal officials, and BP reps to discuss the latest on the disaster, one participant took all of the parties by surprise. A 14-year old girl named Lauren Spaulding confidently stepped up to the mic during the Q+A — the only young person to do so — and confronted BP about its lack of initiative to educate children about the spill.

Spaulding was polite but direct when she asked BP what it was doing to educate young people about the spill or to provide teaching materials to schools, and she quickly won over the crowd. She pointed out that kids are concerned about the spill too, and want to learn more about what’s going on and how they can help. They’re worried about the environment and their parents’ livelihoods, she said.

(via TreeHugger.)

The spill threw the Obama Administration’s plans to extend offshore oil drilling into disarray, but the information coming out in the wake of the spill has shown how lucky this was – though it is perverse to speak of luck in this context – that it happened now, when it could bring the whole process into question rather than later. We are finding out about a systematic failure of safety and oversight, by the companies involved and the government agencies responsible:

BP Safety Violations: OSHA Says Company Has ‘Systemic Safety Problem’: “A Washington-based research group says two BP refineries in the U.S. account for 97 percent of “egregious willful” violations given by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The study by the Center for Public Integrity says the violations were found in the last three years in BP’s Texas City refinery and another plant in Toledo, Ohio. In 2005, 15 people were killed in an explosion at the Texas City refinery.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab says BP has a “systemic safety problem.”

BP Safety Violations: Has Paid A Only A Pittance In Fines.MMS’ fines against BP have been the equivalent of a rounding error. From 1998 through 2007 “when MMS issued its last fine against the company” BP has paid less than $580,000 in penalties for its 12 safety violations.

Environmental groups say this simply isn’t enough.

(via The Huffington Post.)

Where do we go from here? Obviously, and thankfully (again, a bit perverse in this context), offshore oil drilling in the United States has been seriously called into question. But if the effect of this disaster is that we continue to source most of our oil from overseas, including from offshore rigs elsewhere, while also continuing to consume oil at roughly the same rate, all we will have done is shift the problem of oil spills like this to other people’s shores (NIMBY) while still having the danger – the likelihood – of other Exxon Valdez-type spills here. The tremendous damage – human, animal, ecological, and economic – of this spill has to add to the growing weight of argument for a shift to (1) non-polluting and renewable forms of energy, and (2) a fundamental change in patterns of lifestyle and consumption to reduce our dependence on substances and processes that are polluting our planet and rapidly diminishing the long-term sustainability of human civilization.

BP Oil Spill: Well, we could always nuke it closed…

Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.
~ Gertrude Stein

I haven’t posted anything on the BP oil spill off the Louisiana coast until now because, frankly, I haven’t had much to say about it. Everyone agrees it’s a terrible thing, and lots of people have been jumping up and down on BP with hobnailed boots. The connection to Halliburton – and hence to Cheney and Bush – has come out and been handled in a reasonably satisfactory way. And this disaster seems to have put a halt to President Obama’s plans to increase offshore oil drilling, at least for the time being.

So I haven’t felt like I had much to contribute, and there hasn’t seemed to be any need for increased publicity on the issue. But of course I’ve kept reading as much of the coverage as I could, and this last week, a few items leaped out at me so starkly, that I decided to throw something together. The items that really got my goat were these:

  • The oil spill, already a disaster, is now predicted to be 5 to 12 times worse than initially thought.
  • If efforts to cap the leak are not successful, the spill could continue seriously damaging the Gulf region for decades. We may be dealing with the consequences for the rest of the 21st century.
  • The companies ignored safety problems, and the government agencies concerned did not exercise proper oversight.
  • BP makes enough profit in 4 days to cover the cost of cleaning up this spill.
  • The BP CEO says the spill is ‘relatively tiny’ compared with the ‘very big ocean’.

For links to these items, and a round up of other links and ledges on the most interesting and or damning articles on the oil spill from the last week, see below…

The Seattle Times: BP oil spill disaster – photos.

Gulf Coast oil spill map – requires Google Earth.

BP Oil Spill 2010: Latest News, PHOTOS: “The BP oil spill has had devastating effects to the environment as well as humans and wildlife in the Gulf region.”

Video: Oil has reached Louisiana coast, says marine biologist.

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Ideas: The Scoop on Poop

Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.
~ Gertrude Stein

Some ideas and scientific discoveries from around the internet concerning, well, shit… So here it is, the 411 on #2, coming straight at ya from the cloaca:

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Ideas – Sensible to Sensational, Sociological to Technological

Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.

Gertrude Stein said this in her Reflections on the Atom Bomb (1946) – imagine what she would have said about the interweb!

In what I expect will become a new regular feature, here’s a round-up of ideas culled from that mind-boggling expanse of information – ideas from a variety of recent articles, reports and blog posts – ranging from simple bits of social engineering to cutting edge electrical engineering…

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Accountability for Mine Deaths [updated]

Obama seeks accountability as mine death toll hits 29 | Reuters

President Barack Obama demanded accountability on Saturday after four missing West Virginia coal miners were found dead, nearly five days after an explosion killed 25 others in the worst U.S. mining disaster in nearly four decades.
Federal records show Upper Big Branch had three fatalities since 1998, a worse-than-average injury rate in the past 10 years and was cited for more than 100 safety violations this year. [Mine owners] Massey said Upper Big Branch’s violation rate was “consistent with national averages.

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