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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's a miracle!

The oil in the Gulf is just disappearing.

Yeah, right.

Comments (16)

Crude oil in warm places biodegrades and evaporates. Still, you would not expect it to happen this much this fast.

That's the story that they're sticking to, of course, but we don't know for sure.

Meanwhile, Prince William Sound - admittedly with much colder seas than the Gulf - still has contaminated shorelines 21 years after the Exxon Valdez disaster. There's just not much other large scale data available, so the theory that BP wants everyone to believe is what we are hearing.

Given the number of boats that have been on the water skimming since the beginning, the ability of the ocean to absorb light oil, and the evaporation mentioned above I'm not surprised by this. There have been a lot of predictions about this happening from the start. However, anything other than the most negative of stories doesn't get much play in a crisis like this.

Then again, it could be a conspiracy.

I recommend author Michael Beschloss on this. The disturbing thing is you'll think you're listening to a paranoid conspiracy nut - not one of the most respected American historians out there.
He says BP represents the arrogance of the world's multi-national corporations. They really do consider themselves above nation states and for good reason.
We asked that BP not use these dispersants on the oil, but we were ignored. These dispersants made the oil sink so the seabed has big globs of oil on it right where the shrimp start life.
BP has been cutting corners for profits all over the world - especially in Alaska - and any talk that they will make this right is just more deception.

From arresting American journalists trying to cover this, to the happy talk ads, this is all about image control over criminal behavior while BP tries to get out of paying for it. This is work of a hideous, dangerous multi-national monster.

"Crude oil in warm places biodegrades and evaporates. Still, you would not expect it to happen this much this fast."

Under conditions that wern't altered by the dispersants that would have been the natural process. But the system was overloaded with crude in too little time for the huge amount to be processed this quickly. The dispersants known as surfactants are the wild card. Through hydrophillic/hydrophobic interactions, they have just moved a large amount of oil residual under the surface throughout the water column. Not good for the ecosystem.

"Gulf life will never be the same:"

Sorry, make that Dr. Douglas Brinkley - not Michael Beschloss. He was on a TV show yesterday and I started with the name Brinkley but blew the google search. Anyway, I got the American historian part right:

The late Stephen E. Ambrose called him “the best of the new generation of American historians.”

Knew a fellow back in the 90's who was a muckety-muck PhD Chem E researcher and strategic planner with Mobil Oil who told me that what happened with Exxon Valdez would have been essentially a non-issue in the Gulf due to warmer air and water temps. Time will reveal more, but don't paint me surprised at the disappearing traces. There is more than one reason to be thankful for the warmer ocean temps Atlantic side.

Bill McD, you do know that Mr Ambrose has been shown to have been a plagiarist?

And did you happen to catch Mr Brinkley (no relation to David or Christy) last April in the Distinguished Historians Forum (OHS) when he talked about Teddy Roosevelt and especially about his recent book about Teddy Roosevelt? This historian, five of whose books have been selected as NYTimes Notable Books of the Year, is surprisingly and profoundly challenged by English grammar. But he does agree that Mr Sean Penn is an extraordinary human being, primarily for his work in New Orleans immediately post-Katrina and, for the past six months, in Haiti:

I'm just looking for information on the Gulf that isn't from the usual sources.
I've heard the dispersants will be a bigger problem than the oil and BP used them to create the impression we now see in the mainstream media that the oil is going fast.
I also know heat is a huge help in the natural devouring of oil by microbes - I used to live right near the Persian Gulf.

What we should have are supertankers full of microbes ready to spray on a spill. Hungry microbes. Assist nature to do what it does best. I did read that some underwater plumes in the Gulf had much higher than normal microbe counts so good things are happening. The key was to get the damn thing stopped.

I don't know much about the late Stephen Ambrose, except for "Band of Brothers". I was using him to establish that Brinkley was an American historian. I hadn't read about these allegations. I know Doris Kearns Goodwin had a plagiarism problem too and that hasn't slowed her down any.

Listening earlier today to NPR, the guest was of the opinion that what has happened is that bacteria that "eat" the oil multiplied due to the large amount of oil in the gulf. Once the source was capped, competition for oil intensified and the by then large amount of oil "eating" bacteria rapidily decimated the available oil.

BP's affable Bob Dudley took the reins yesterday and announced that James Lee Witt -- FEMA fame prior to the Bushleague fiasco -- will have something to do with oversight of the Gulf cleanup. I trust him, but he works for BP now. As do as many scientists as BP can coax onboard -- the subject of another NPR piece this morning, which I hope you also heard, Bankerman. Some researchers have resisted the cash in this era of reduced funding because BP's intent seems to be to keep them from providing independent analysis or even any commentary on conditions in and around the Gulf.

An earlier version of this AP piece noted that Jane Lubchenco, NOAA director and former OSU luminary, cautions that continued study of subsurface oil plumes is needed:
Dr Lubchenco has earned our trust in matters environmental.

Also, Bankerman, perhaps you found time yesterday for Countdown (MSNBC)? Pinch-anchor Lawrence O'Donnell observed that one reason BP's Dudley could talk about not seeing any leaking oil was because the monitoring camera had been turned off for three days, without explanation.

It is clear that BP has launched yet another PR campaign. Whether unharnessed scientists and the victims of the gusher will be heard above the noise of that campaign remains to be seen.

Sounds as if erstwhile PMerc scribe Matt Davis has found work in NOLA, apparently as an AFP freelancer:

Although there are many Matt Davises on the planet, who else would write "...incoming BP boss Bob Dudley vowed that the oil giant would not abandon residents..."?

One needs to look elsewhere for a clearer understanding of how evident the oil is in the Gulf and on the land around it. But perhaps Mr Davis will prove a quick study.

Gerald and Bill McD, Matthew Wald offers a piece in today's NYTimes about Thad Allen's nod to far too many BP requests to use dispersants:

"The Coast Guard approved dozens of requests by BP to spread hundreds of thousands of gallons of surface oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s directive on May 26 that they should be used only rarely, according to documents and correspondence analyzed by a Congressional subcommittee.

In some cases, the Coast Guard approved BP’s requests even though the company did not set an upper limit on the amount of dispersant it planned to use.

The dispersants contributed to 'a toxic stew of chemicals, oil and gas, with impacts that are not well understood,' Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, the Democratic chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, wrote in a letter sent late Friday to Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who is leading the federal response to the oil spill."

Research on the effects of the dispersants will take time and enough scientists outside BP's harness to do the work. The Gulf disaster is new territory for everyone.

BP is now hyping "static kill" -- plugging via the original hole -- and hedging on the role of the relief wells:

There seem to be a lot of images of obvious oil. And there seem to be numerous small leaks around the original well.

Bill McD, writing in the NYT today about Michael Bellesiles, an historian emerging from the wilderness of scandal (a problem with facts and the NRA), Patricia Cohen observes:

"The history profession has shown itself to be both merciless and forgiving toward errant practitioners. Some famous historians, like Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose, have emerged from plagiarism charges mostly unscathed. Other less well-known scholars have been hounded out of the profession for relatively minor mistakes, as happened in a notorious case from the early 1980s involving a young professor named David Abraham, who wrote about Weimar Germany."

Ms Goodwin, like Mr Brinkley and Mr Beschloss, has enjoyed a pundit's career on the cables, where scrutiny of credentials and credibility has never been especially rigorous.

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