It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Orange Beach, Orange Beach AL

Orange Beach AL is somewhat ironically named.

Photo: Dave Martin/AP lifted from the Guardian.


Steve Scolnik said...

One might say the color is golden.

Hank Roberts said...

Relevant, from Peter Watts at

The Feel-Good Spill of the Decade
June 09 2010

Dead zones suffocating 20,000 square kilometers of ocean. Endangered wetlands, disappearing at the rate of over 300 Ha/day. Clouds of black viscous poison soiling the coastlines of four states.

And then the Deepwater Horizon blew up.

What, you thought those apocalyptic descriptions were of the spill? You thought the Gulf of Mexico was some pristine marine wilderness before those nefarious assholes from BP came along and ruined everything?

What are you, twelve?

Everything I’ve just described was old news long before April 20. Granted, the black tides were dinoflagellate blooms, not oil slicks; the dead zones came to us courtesy of the Mississippi, which delivers agricultural runoff from almost half the continental US. The wetlands — 40% of the US total — were being decimated daily: by dredging, by condominiums and golf courses, by the collapse of the very substrate as oil and gas were sucked up from underneath.

Wile E. Coyote ran off the cliff decades back, was already halfway to the rocks below, and nobody gave a shit. Now you start wailing and gnashing your teeth, just because the anvil BP dropped into his arms is making him fall faster?

Me, I prefer to look on the bright side. The Gulf was already dying, just like the rest of the planetary conshelf. The fishers and tour guides were already dead men walking; the wetlands were already doomed. Nobody cared. Now they do, and I think that’s a good thing....

Hank Roberts said...

oh. shit.

According to BP PLC's 582-page 2009 spill response plan for the Gulf of Mexico, walruses along with sea otters, sea lions, and seals are among the "sensitive biological resources" that could be harmed by an oil discharge from its operations in the Gulf. The only problem is that walruses, sea otters, sea lions, and seals don't happen to live in the Gulf of Mexico, and haven't for a considerable period of time—like millions of years.

The spill plan also lists a Japanese home shopping site as one of BP's
primary providers of equipment for containing a spill, a dead professor as one of its wildlife experts to consult with in the event of spill, and other outrageous gaffes.

BP was not alone in worrying about walruses. Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil's oil discharge response plans in the Gulf of Mexico also listed those poor walruses as potential victims of a spill.

The US government must have been worried about those walruses, too, since those in government accountable for reviewing and approving the oil companies' response plans didn't say a word about them. Maybe the US government officials at the Minerals Management Service decided that, even though walruses, sea otters, sea lions, and seals didn't currently live in the Gulf of Mexico, they might someday. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

Well, the reality, of course, is that the oil companies outsourced the
writing of their oil response plans to a consulting group, and didn't bother to read the plans to see if they made any sense.

What worries me more is that the possibility that those responsible for risk management at the oil companies (and US government) did read these plans and didn't catch any of the errors....

Michael Tobis said...

Thanks, Hank. The Risks digest rules!

I don't read it anymore because I figure I have enough to worry about already! I'm glad someone in my circle does, though.