Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

An evil, evil day

I picked this up from a commenter at Grist:

A reader who is an engineer of considerable experience says watch this
one evolve carefully because it is destined to continue to grow and he shares this long (but worthy) explanation why:

"Heard your mention of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this morning, and you (and most everyone else except maybe George Noory) are totally missing the boat on how big and bad of a disaster this is.

First fact, the original estimate was about 5,000 gallons of oil a day spilling into the ocean. Now they're saying 200,000 gallons a day. That's over a million gallons of crude oil a week!

That's an enormous catastrophe. (I removed some of the quote because I think it was a bit over the top, on reflection -- but I do believe it is very unclear when they will be able to cap this well and it might indeed be many weeks. So yes, it's really, really bad.) This is a product of a hubristic ideology that claimed that allowing people to do whatever the hell they want to make as much money as they possibly can will create the best of all possible worlds; and that anyone who tries to interfere on behalf of some imagined greater interest or common cause is an enemy of humanity. Is this what it will take for people to finally confront the enormity of our folly?


kathy a. said...

i saw the longer quote, before you removed some -- and i don't know how accurate this person's assessment is, but just trying to think about the engineering challenges is mind-boggling.

news accounts mention that the wellhead is a mile undersea -- so you've got your distance challenge, and your underwater challenge. it truly had not occurred to me how far into the crust the drilling must have gone, nor to think about either the extreme pressures of the water that far down, nor the force of the gusher.

C. Corax said...

Here's a link to a blog by a weatherman in LA. He's got some stuff up about the oil slick.

Anonymous said...

The story not being reported in the US (afaik?) is that BP (and other US / Intl cos) lobbied for, and obtained, a waiver for using some extra security precautions, costing half a million dollars per rig, which are used by all others, notably in Brazil and Norway.

A recent review of the Minerals Management Service (surveillance authority on oil industry) was catastrophic: call it corrupted for short.

- Report under Obama, the rest under Bush. It might be poss. to turn up that report, but I don’t have time. The EU press has covered this in some detail.

As I don't grasp the technology and what the device actually is and the cause of the present blow out is at present unknown, the lack of the ‘extra’ safety equipment may be irrelevant.

What follows now is **hearsay.** Again, it is very disquieting that the MSM don’t report on the underlying structures.

(In CH, we have a lot of oil traders. US /Intl corps don’t pay any, or very little tax in the US.)

The US oil cos. have a specialised task force, paid for by them, that takes over whenever an accident involving spillage, explosions, damage to not-them, occurs. The cos. share the cost, pick the ppl, etc. Force are the best and brightest, the most highly trained, etc.

They take over, become the command module, and can of course marshall other organisms (other oil cos, specialists, fishermen, etc.) BP (or other co.) is no longer responsible for the events that follow. That special unit can be taken over by the Federal Gvmt. on order (I have heard) of the Pres, the papers are pre-signed, in say within 30 seconds of a disaster, with a phone call.

Of course, the ppl who do the work don’t change, but the command and decision powers do. This makes sense, we are talking world-harming disasters here, and ‘the buck stops here’ is a necessity.

These arrangements make eminent sense and were set up after the Exxon Valdez spill.

Obama is playing with fire blaming BP. (The rig in any case was subcontracted. But that is yet another story.) He should, imho, have taken over, thus using to the full the previous arrangements. The Gvmt. is ultimately accountable (see surveillance authorities), and leadership is required.

Obama himself is naturally not responsible for faulty valves or leaky concrete or whatever, that is not the point. The point is that for change (that you can believe in!) the can of worms, the underlying structures must be opened up, made public, reviewed, discussed. BP won’t do that, you can be sure, it is not in their interest.

Oh btw, the amount that any one co. would have to shell out was fixed as well. It is 75 million dollars. (Swiss press.)

I can’t judge the sum, it seems not much, but a lower type of cap is reasonable. The amount of expertise, knowledge, equipment, contacts, power, etc. these cos. have can’t be flushed down the drain with one unexpected disaster, it would put the whole world-wide fossil fuel industry at risk, particularly the ‘US / OECD’ stranglehold, and nobody can ‘live’ without oil. This ain’t a chain of nail salons that overcharged and used toxic nail polish. It is the life blood of the world, and technologically highly complex.

Banks might be too big to fail - not true, and all they do is push paper and keyboards - oil cos are TITF, too important to fail.

The US public is being presented with, at best, an incomplete picture; at worst, kabuki theatre. Imho.