Wednesday, August 04, 2010

If I hide behind my finger, you can't see me

And the corollary is also true: if you can't see it, it doesn't exist.

At least according to the UK news, the U.S. administration is trumpeting cleanup success in the Gulf, saying that 75% of the oil has been either "captured, burned off, evaporated or broken down in the Gulf of Mexico."

Uh, could you clarify that "broken down" part? Sure: "the remaining oil is so diluted that it poses little risk of harm."

And you know this for a fact? I don't think we actually know whether there will be harm, and won't know for years, if not decades. They're still finding crude in the beaches near the Valdez spill, where no dispersants were permitted for use and the water is colder (hence slowing natural microbial degradation of the crude). And we've no clear consensus on whether the dispersant Corexit (evidently so named because it "Corrects the visual problem") is itself toxic enough (it's definitely toxic) to further disrupt the already beleaguered Gulf food web; not to mention the combined effect of the two chemical complexes.

BP pressured the government to use dispersants because they were worried about their liability and knew that oil floating to shore was more visually egregious (and possibly more damaging) than oil that "disappears" beneath the surface. But there were apparently no studies to gauge Corexit's toxicity or long-term effects. In a world obsessed with surfaces and appearance, "sinking" the oil was an predictable move on BP's part. And caving to their pressure was a predictable response for a pro-business (read: business-owned) government.

Only time will tell. Begin your long-term studies now, scientists; there's a lot of data to collect as this disaster continues to unfold.

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At 8/23/2010 6:42 PM, Blogger Tess said...

This is great Algie. There is no more doubt as to where the oil "went" - it's been revealed in a deep plume, many hundreds of feet wide. I'm sorry to hear the administration stated the oil was cleaned up - they must have known that it couldn't have been cleaned up that fast. Ugh.


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