21 May 2010

The Beginning of the End

Global Guerrillas: Leaking Legitimacy
Over the last month, it's become increasingly clear that there is a coordinated information operations campaign in place to downplay the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The US government and British Petroleum have imposed a scientific and media blackout to prevent the gathering of the information on the oil leak needed to generate precise estimates (specifically, updates to very low estimates made during the very early days of the crisis). Despite this blackout, credible outside estimates made possible by the little information that has trickled out show that the amount of oil leaking from the broken wellhead is upwards of twenty times the official British Petroleum and Government estimates -- nearly 4,000,000 gallons a day vs. 210,000.

4 million gallons per day, for days on end. The oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez was about 10 million gallons, in total. Per Wikipedia, "The oil [from the Valdez] eventually covered 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of coastline and 11,000 square miles (28,000 km2) of ocean." How long can something of this magnitude be backpaged successfully, as millions of tourists head to the beaches of the South for summer?

The Gulf as we know it is no more. Dmitry Orlov has compared the spill to Chernobyl for its similar roots in political cronyism and potential social consequences. Ecologically, it's probably worse - at least in the case of Chernobyl, the native wildlife of the area survived and regenerated, even in the face of extreme radiation hazards, but a blanket of smothering oil allows for no regeneration.

Live in the South? Time to pick up your hat.


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