Archive for the ‘Gulf’ Category


Fakes and Frauds

July 21, 2010

Boy, BP really stepped in it this time. This is a small matter, on one hand; but on the other, it’s unreal. Basically, BP has been photoshopping images of the gulf spill to make it look like they’re doing more than they actually are. Washington Post reports on it tonight. Gawker has the initial details. And here’s another, different, photoshopped photograph from BP.

Unbelievable. Seriously, if they photoshop widely distributed images, how on earth are we to trust them when they give us only numbers?


Happy Father’s Day

June 20, 2010

BP is ‘burning sea turtles alive.’

“They ran us out of there and then they shut us down, they would not let us get back in there,” Ellis said in an interview with conservation biologist Catherine Craig.

Part of BP’s efforts to contain the oil spill are controlled burns. Fire-resistant booms are used to corral an area of oil, then the area within the boom is lit on fire, burning off the oil and whatever marine life may have been inside.

“Once the turtles get in there they can’t get out,” Ellis said.


Oh Noes

June 11, 2010

Yulsman on Lubchenco, Birnbaum, and BP

May 21, 2010

While I’m off in the woods, check out Tom Yulsman on the Deep Horizon debacle. He has this to say on why Jane Lubchenco should be pissed that her advice wasn’t heeded:

There’s no question that anger is justified. In fact, I suspect Jane Lubchenco herself (chief of NOAA) is pretty darn angry that Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the federal Minerals Management Service, ignored her agency’s request to hold off on issuing deep water drilling permits until the work of the administration’s Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force was completed (scheduled for last December).

In fact, if I were Jane Lubchenco, I’d be apoplectic. If MMS director Birnbaum hadn’t ignored NOAA’s request, the BP oil spill never would have happened. That’s because the MMS approved, on Birnbaum’s watch, the drilling permit for the well that is now despoiling the Gulf.

It may well be that Lubchenco should be apoplectic, but it seems to me just as reasonable that she may have reason to breathe a sigh of relief. Most of the blame for not holding off on the drilling permits can’t be laid at her feet.

It’s not that Lubchenco shouldn’t be angry that she wasn’t listened to, but only that, she’s a political appointee. So far as my understanding of most political actors and career bureaucrats, it’s more likely that she’s worried about her own hide getting tanned. And that, at least, should be in the clear. It’s Birnbaum who should be pissed at herself for not following Lubchenco’s advice.


The Repugnant Conclusion

May 14, 2010

Many years ago, Derek Parfit described a state of affairs that he dubbed the “Repugnant Conclusion.” He noted that for “any possible population of at least ten billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better even though its members have lives that are barely worth living.” He wasn’t actually advocating for population policies that encouraged growth so as to improve global happiness, no matter a single individual’s quality of life. He found such a conclusion repugnant.

Though not exactly parallel, today’s insensitive comments by Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, remind me a bit of that conclusion. “Hey,” says Hayward, cheer up. This spill of oil in the gulf is “relatively tiny” compared to the enormity of the ocean.

He might as well extend his comments temporally across geologic time. Not only is this spill relatively tiny compared to the enormity of the ocean, but in the grand cosmic scheme of things, this is a very small bit of oil. Several decades from now, the ocean will clean itself up, the plants will return, and the losses will be largely unnoticeable to all but the most astute marine biologists, paleontologists and archeologists. The world will find a new balance.


Gun. To. Head.

May 12, 2010

Hard to say if this is, legally speaking, a case of duress, but if the charges are true, I’d say that, at minimum, the “you can’t go home” part ought not to have been uttered.

Workers aboard an exploding offshore drilling platform were told to sign statements denying they were hurt or witnessed the blast that rocked the rig, killed 11 and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, their attorneys said Tuesday.

Survivors floated for hours in life boats in the Gulf of Mexico after the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon, and were greeted by company officials onshore asking them to sign statements that they had no “first hand or personal knowledge” of the incident, attorneys said.

“These men are told they have to sign these statements or they can’t go home,” said Tony Buzbee, a Houston attorney for 10 Transocean workers. “I think it’s pretty callous, but I’m not surprised by it.”

The manifold ethical problems associated with this single disaster are already pretty difficult to parse. It’s hard to know where to stick the fork in. Still, if it’s the case that signed statements like those referenced above exist, and if it’s the case that the rig workers want to change their testimony to say that they do have first-hand knowledge of the incident, I can’t imagine anything that would validate the content of the former statements.