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Blog item: Reality Slips In When Least Wanted -- Revealing Real Leak Rate, And Criminality

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8 comments, last: Jun-10-2010   Add a comment   Author:  PT (Jun-9-2010)    Play a Video
Categories: Philosophical & Quality of Life, Pollution

Anderson Cooper speaking with an attorney representing the survivors of the Deepwater Horizon explosion; click for videoOnce again, the Federal government and many news outlets have been shown as willing to suspend disbelief.  That is, the same folks who at first echoed BPs numbers and proclaimed a "mere" 1,000 barrels per day leak, and then after a week or two proclaimed a 5,000 barrel (210,000 gallon) per day leak for over a month, and more recently adjusted to a 12,000 barrel per day (oh, no, that became 19,000 barrels per day) leak, have again been shown to be wildly inaccurate.

wrote here on May 14th about reports that the true range of the oil leak size was about 50,000 to 100,000 barrels daily.  Now that BP has officially announced that it has been capturing about 15,000 barrels per day at the same time as we can still see a giant gusher of escaping oil from the same leak location, seemingly unchanged despite the 15,000 barrels a day being removed, it is clear to all informed viewers that the real rate of leak must be several times that 15,000, or, once again, at least 50,000 barrels per day.

BP refused to release high-definition video versions of the leak until June 8th; such a high-definition video will allow accurate modeling and determination of the true rate of the leak by a wide range of experts using well-known tools.  This hiding of information is part of a pattern of irresponsibility starting long before the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred, when BP had the highest rate of accidents in the major oil industry companies, through allowing the explosion to occur by overriding the strong recommendations of experts Transocean, and through irresponsible behaviors in the publicly visible aftermath of the explosion.  See the video for more about one attorney's interpretation of BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and Cameron criminal liability.

Granted, this attorney is in the process of leading a law suit against some or all of those companies.  However, the US Justice Department has started investigating criminal charges, and BP has had a significant history with barely avoiding criminal prosecution brought on by shoddy and reckless operations; in the last ten years they avoided such prosecution due to US government collusion by the Bush Administration.

Some of the publicly visible misbehavior by BP in the aftermath of the explosion has included repeatedly understating the size of the oil leak to its own financial benefit, preventing news media and scientists from gathering important information regarding the leak and its impact, advising cleanup workers not to wear protective equipment, and apparently failing to take some of the available steps that could reduce the amount of oil reaching Gulf shorelines. 

I read the various reports on the emergency response as a layman, and the small size of the response led by BP in terms of limited oil barriers and oil removal provided, through the small number of cleanup workers hired, these indicate a company that either is not fully aware of the seriousness of damage that is taking place to livelihoods and the environment, or a company that is trying to downplay the response as part of an effort to protect its image.  I suspect it is a combination of those factors.

Beyond the repeated reminders during this disaster of the venality (greed) inherent in much human behavior, and further emphasized in the world of the public corporation, what is appalling is the lack of government understanding and action.  One simple measure of this is the government's repeated parroting of the BP numbers for the leak size, long after amateur observers like me smelled a whole pack of rats.  When you have a brain trust of environmentalists led by a Nobel-prize winner, Steven Chu, and no one in the government can speak up about the realities other than saying they are going to "kick ass", it speaks of corruption of government, conscious or unconscious.  It appears to me that Obama, without fully realizing it, has been co-opted by the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, like every president before him.  In another article published here today, Harvey Wasserman points out the alarming reality that this same mindset is in the process of unleashing what could become a flood of new nuclear plant construction despite a terrible record of safety failures, groundwater pollution, and inherent risks for nuclear waste disposal and for terrorist targeting of nuclear plants.

Reality keeps asserting itself.  Ignoring reality requires a lot of effort and self-indulgence, including use of drugs (legal and illegal), temptation of sexual favors such as those exchanged between the fossil fuel industry and the MMS (Minerals Management Service), and other lower-functioning seductions that appeal to the human id and blind people to reality.  Such ongoing blindness prevents our government, governments around the world, and our media from fully exposing the realities with which we are living, and the swords dangling over our collective heads.  According to my observation, the reality ranges from aggression against other countries to aggression against the whole planet in order to extract minerals and to gain land and water, as ways of achieving national goals.

The Roman government in 140 B.C.E. got it right when they determined that the way to get what they wanted without public interference was to provide "bread and circuses".

But sometimes a nation does shake off its collective lethargy and becomes active in making its own destiny.  This awakening and action has been occurring in a variety of contexts worldwide, such as the Transition Towns movement, measurable increases in local farming markets and organic food production, a slow increase in alternative, renewable energy production, and other small signs of change.

I hope enough of us wake up and remember to walk out of the circus tent so we can begin to make policies and take actions that will lead toward a better future.

Related PlanetThoughts.org reading:
  Oil, Oil Everywhere: Not Just Another Oil Spill,... (May-14-2010)

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Comment by:  Wavehunter (William Coffin) (Jun-10-2010)   Web site
Thank you, AG. I did like it.
  
Comment by: auntiegrav (auntiegrav) (Jun-10-2010)   

Wavehunter:

Maybe you'll like this: http://freedomguerrilla.com/farming/somebody-elses-perfection
  
Comment by: auntiegrav (auntiegrav) (Jun-10-2010)   

The swarm mentality:
1. Keep moving so those behind you don't eat you.
2. Don't bump into those next to you or you'll damage your wings.
3. Follow the fastest bug.
The fastest bugs (BP) just happened to have 700,000 gallons of dispersant lying around to be used up. The next fastest bugs (gov't) wanted to clear up the oil as fast as possible or the public would eat them. The rest of humanity is just following each other around.
  
Comment by: City Worker (Jun-10-2010)   

Jean-Michel Cousteau, on “The News Hour” on June 8th (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/jan-june10/cousteau_06-08.html) stated that the “long-term damage and consequences …” of using dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico “without even knowing what it does” is much greater than having not used them and skimming off the oil from the top. He said that it would have been much better to have skimmed off the oil from the surface of the water than to disperse it throughout the water.

If we combine what was said by Jean-Michel Cousteau, with what was said in this article and its comments, with what was said in another blog here (http://www.planetthoughts.org/?pg=pt/Whole&qid=3212) on the toxicity of the use of dispersants, I think one can conclude there’s a real good chance that individual self-interests and corporate self-interests had a lot to do with the decisions made regarding the use of dispersants.

One wonders: Did those who acted really not know that the use of dispersants was a worse way of trying to get rid of the oil than skimming the oil off the surface? Why couldn’t the government, with their brain trust, get this thing right with respect to dispersant? Did the government/BP think the decision of using dispersants was such an inconsequential matter that they chose to act without consulting their brain trusts? Was the use of dispersants purely an act of hiding the evidence of the gargantuan oil spill, underneath the surface of the water, long enough so those in charge could escape punishment?
  
Comment by:  Wavehunter (William Coffin) (Jun-9-2010)   Web site

Great article, by the way. Thanks for writing it David.
  
Comment by:  Wavehunter (William Coffin) (Jun-9-2010)   Web site

Deepwater Horizon is a serious oil spill, but it is time we thought beyond the Gulf of Mexico, beyond BP, Transocean and Halliburton, beyond the United States. This sort of thing has happened before and will happen again. I read that more oil leaks yearly into the Niger Delta and Gulf of Benin than the whole of the media-friendly disaster off the Louisiana coast.

What has happened is that a dogma as deep and as damaging as that of the Soviet Union and the Catholic Church has infected policy makers left, right and centre. It is the market dogma, which prioritises profit and deregulation over people and planet. What BP is doing is perfectly natural. BP is a corporation which strives to maximise profits. It will do anything that national governments will allow in order to give shareholders large dividends. In this it is acting according to the principles of capitalism and stock market rules. It will only protect the environment if it is forced to do so or it becomes profitable to do so.

The next outrage will come. Another oil spill, this time with Texaco at fault? An explosion at a nuclear power station in North Carolina? An incident at an industrial farm poisoning the water supply to the entire city of Phoenix? I can't predict what, where or when, but I can be sure that institutionalised greed will be at the root of it. And if it is in the Third World it will be virtually ignored. The current system makes this inevitable.

The inadequacies of the system are obvious. It seems clear it will not last. As oil peaks, as ecosystems fail and as markets become saturated, it cannot continue. We need to think deeply if we're to choose a viable alternative and if we're going to move towards it sufficiently quickly but without bloodshed.

Socialism is one - true international socialism, as distinct from the perversions of the Soviet system. Anarchism is another - real, participatory anarchism, rather than the chaos of its image. Either of these ideas would need a strong green streak to meet today's challenges, and they would probably need to lose their labels if they were to gain widespread appeal. Buddhism too offers solutions, but again the label is off-putting for some. Here's the Dalai Lama:

Because self and others can only be understood in terms of relationship, we see that self-interest and others' interest are closely interrelated and there is no self-interest completely unrelated to others' interests. Due to the fundamental interconnectedness which lies at the heart of reality, your interest is also my interest: in a deep sense, "my" interest and "your" interest basically converge.

The above statement could be characterised as socialism, anarchism or Buddhism. Whatever it is, it is directly antithetical to the self-centred system currently in force.
  
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Jun-9-2010)   Web site

I can also compare us to our moon, serene and beautiful, floating above. That is an essential aspect of our nature, but is obscured much of the time. My point is, one can never see the full story if one forgets that strong component of our nature, which may be human destiny if at least a handful of us survive the coming changes.
  
Comment by: auntiegrav (auntiegrav) (Jun-9-2010)   

David said: "But sometimes a nation does shake off its collective lethargy and becomes active in making its own destiny. This awakening and action has been occurring in a variety of contexts worldwide, such as the Transition Towns movement, measurable increases in local farming markets and organic food production, a slow increase in alternative, renewable energy production, and other small signs of change."
We can hope, yes. When has any large Empire ever changed willfully back to something sustainable?
I'm with Kunstler on this one: We are approaching a world of Risky Business meets Home Alone: lots of childish antics without adult supervision, and no coherent leadership.
This is actually an easily modeled scenario: just compare humanity to a supernova. We evolved an imagination so that we could see ourselves self-destruct over and over again: until the final blowup when we destroy our own cradle.

  
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About author/contributor Member: PT (David Alexander) PT (David Alexander)
   Web site: http://www.PlanetThoughts.org

Member: PT (David Alexander) In 2006 I started building the PlanetThoughts.org Web site to raise awareness of environmental issues, but I have been in the software field since 1978, working primarily on healthcare-related and not-for-profit organizations, but also for some general commercial companies. I have also long been a supporter of environmental causes.

I am an enthusiastic Tai Chi Chuan practitioner and teacher. This helps balance my brain after sitting at a screen for hours at a time, and lends some balance to life.

In early 2006 global warming and other environmental and energy challenges, as well as escalating wars in numerous locations, became central to my understanding of issues that our whole planet faces, and I wanted to do something with my skills to spread awareness and understanding of environment and energy issues, as well as discuss better philosophies of living, for greater satisfaction beyond consumerism.
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