Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Someone should just publish comments from TOD

...Comments that deserve to be read by people not obsessed enough (yet) to spend hours wading 300-400 comments in. Posted with the strong caveat, of course, that these are taken out of context!

Interested_public on June 9, 2010 - 11:32am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

This is the problem with trying to do science in a crisis - really an impossible task. A responsible study will take time (6 months to a year) and quite a bit of sampling as the gulf is a big place. A fundamental problem will be the lack of pre-spill baseline data for comparison. We don't know how the oil might change in composition and character over time as it interacts with seawater and the gulf biota. We don't know that much about underwater currents in the gulf, although there is some data on this and I expect more will be forthcoming now that there is a perceived need for it. This is also one of the reasons that knowing the leak rate is very important - there needs to be some reasonable estimate of the proportion of oil that is not reaching the surface.

As with the lack of pre-accident technical means to deal with a deepwater blowout - despite ample fore knowledge that such a problem might arise and documentation of specific problems that should be addressed - there is a similar lack of baseline data with which to evaluate the current problem, despite the extensive underwater development of oil resources in the Gulf and the likelihood of a major leak occurring at some point.

Trying to play catch-up over a few weeks or a month or two will not produce satisfactory answers to many rather important questions - we will end up realizing how much we really don't know about the Gulf ecosystems and watching the experiment play out as we work to understand what we are seeing. People with agendas will take preliminary results to say "See, no problem, why all the hand-wringing?" or "The Gulf will become a dead zone!" when the reality is "Wow, we really don't know that much about the consequences of our actions and their effects on the environment because we really never bothered to look or try and understand any of this stuff ahead of time. Only the most grossly obvious effects like oily birds or soiled beaches will be immediately apparent.

Hopefully the end result, in a few years, will be a more mature understanding of this bit of the world and a more responsible approach to extracting the resources we find useful for our needs. One can hope anyway.

[new] Paleocon on June 9, 2010 - 11:16am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

Obama is the Mediocrat president.

Anger here isn't from a media-driven frenzy, but from a growing, 6-week debacle that aptly illustrates BP's approach to situations and people. Americans are reacting to disdain, sloth, and weaseling -- attitudes which are worse than negligence. Obama said the gov't was in control, and that's his 'style', so now the gov't will earn just ire as well. Obama will join the "make it up as we go" perception if he's not careful. He will increasingly struggle to blame BP while saying the gov't is doing all they can -- it's a tricky corner he chose to paint himself into.

Why I've moved from "BP is handling things" to "BP should be skewered":

1) By intentionally not measuring flow, and then acting solely on low estimates, they have assets in place that are inadequate for the situation now at hand. They have had 6 weeks to marshall resources, and yet are now leaking oil solely due to inadequate top-side resources. There is zero reason not to already have resources to deal with max flow of an unconstrained BOP already on-site. Who cares if an FPSO is already working elsewhere? Shut the site down and worry about that production later.

2) After the fact, the history of BP as a corner-cutting, law-flaunting, risk-taking company is now becoming obvious. This points blame at MMS as much as BP, as this was permitted to continue. Blame also goes to the administration -- anytime you have an obvious rogue outlier it is up to those with oversight to reign them in.

3) General defensive posture, and "wait and see" approach. While engineering work seems to be properly parallel, BP drags their feet on everything else. They are slow to provide video, capture details, date estimates, spill resources, response coordination, and a general tone of "it's not that bad" while each aspect continually gets worse. The only logical reason for a CEO to make stupid statements on air is that the company doesn't think it's important not to.

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