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Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

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  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 01:01am

    #121
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

Now they are talking about capping the well, why couldn’t they do this a few weeks ago? (per CNN television broadcast)

The relief well(s) are supposed to be the final option I suppose, but who knows if they will stop the leak?  No chance of getting those done until August per the television reports I have seen.

I am sickened and quite depressed about this. My brother lives in Florida, I feel very bad for him and for everyone else affected. This is the worst.

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 02:02am

    #122
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

Examine the following statement:

 “The Obama administration asked the company to be more open with the public by sharing such information as measurements of the leak and the trajectory of the spill.”

Public beach in Louisiana closed as oil washes up – Financial News USA

 Yeah, pretty please with a cherry on top. Why isn’t the US government seizing all BP’s assets to pay for this catastrophe? Why is nobody going to jail for destroying a massive body of water, human lives in the initial blast, untold animal life, the tourism, fisheries, the land? Looks like it is the corporations that have power over the government, not the other way around.

BP and all the other oil corps, indeed all transnational corps, are global psychopathic criminals. One day, I hope soon, they will be brought to justice for this. Corporations are inherently selfish, pathological entities whose sole purpose is profit AT ALL COST. The Earth, its human and non-human inhabitants, none of us – none of this – factors into the corpporate bottom line. When they’re done plundering the planet, they’ll just leave the uninhabitable mess to us unlucky billions, build themselves ships with the remaining raw materials, and take off in search of new Wild Wests. You may think this is science fiction. Not so long ago, so were flying machines and self-propelled horse carriages. It will take a social revolution of epic proportions to stop this trend.

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 03:31am

    #123
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

It is embarrassing to be lost. It is even more embarrassing for a leader to be lost. And what’s really really embarrassing to all concerned is when national and transnational corporate leaders attempt to tackle a major disaster and are found out to have been issuing marching orders based on the wrong map. Everyone then executes a routine of turning toward each other in shock, frowning while shaking their heads slowly from side to side and looking away in disgust. After that, these leaders might as well limit their public pronouncements to the traditional “Milk, milk, lemonade, round the corner fudge is made.” Whatever they say, the universal reaction becomes: “What leaders? We don’t have any.”

Getting lost can be traumatic for the rest of us too. When we suddenly realize that we don’t know where we are, urgent neural messages are exchanged between our prefrontal cortex, which struggles to form a coherent picture of what’s happening, our amygdala, whose job is to hold on to a sense of where we are, and our hippocampus, which motivates us to get back to a place we know as quickly as we possibly can. This strange bit of internal wiring explains why humans who are only slightly lost tend to trot off in a random direction and promptly become profoundly lost. After these immediate biochemical reactions have run their course, we go through the usual stages of:

  1. denial—”We are not lost! The ski lodge is just over the next ridge, or the next, or the next…”
  2. anger—”We are wasting time! Shut up and keep trotting!”
  3. bargaining—”The map must be wrong; either that or someone has dynamited the giant boulder that should be right there…”
  4. depression—”We’ll never get there! We’re all going to die out here!” and 
  5. acceptance—”We are not lost; we are right here, wherever it is. We better find some shelter and start a campfire before it gets dark and cold.”

Some people don’t survive, some do; the difference in outcome turns out to have precious little to do with skill or training, and everything to do with motivation—the desire to survive no matter how much pain and discomfort that involves—and the mental flexibility to adjust one’s mental map on the fly to fit the new reality, and to reach stage 5 quickly. Those who go on attempting to operate based on an outdated mental map tend to die in utter bewilderment.

Working with an outdated mental map is a big problem for anyone; for a leader, it may very well spell the end of the position of leadership. After the catastrophe at Chernobyl, the Soviet leaders attempted to operate, for as long as possible, with a mental map that included a relatively intact and generally serviceable nuclear reactor called “Chernobyl Energy Block No. 4”. “The reactor has been shut down and is being cooled,” went the official pronouncements from the Kremlin, “we are pumping in water to cool it.” After a while it became known that there is no reactor—just a smoldering, molten hole spewing radioactive smoke—and the coolant water, prodigious quantities of which were indeed pumped in and spilled in its general vicinity. It instantly boiled away into radioactive steam (which drifted downwind and eventually rained out, poisoning even more of the land). The rest of it leaked out, forming radioactive settling ponds and threatening to further leak into and poison the river that flows through Kiev. As you might imagine, that little episode turned out to be just a little bit embarrassing. Anyone who could think started to think: “Following these leaders is not conducive to survival. Let’s make our own plans.” Gorbachev went on with his usual long-winded blah-blahs, but the milk-milk-lemonade routine would have served him just as well.

More recently, we have been exposed to the spectacle of corporate leaders and public officials attempting to operate, for as long as possible, with a mental map that includes a blown-out but otherwise serviceable deep-water oil well in the Gulf of Mexico variously called “Deepwater Horizon” or “Macondo” or “MC252”. A number of unsuccessful attempts have been made to capture the oil and gas that have been escaping from it using at least three different techniques. BP—the well’s owner—is an oil company, and so their first reaction was to get and sell that oil no matter what. They tried to fit the well with a “top hat” to get all of the oil, but when their contraption didn’t work because it got clogged by methane hydrate crystals they stuck a smaller pipe into the leak, just to get and sell some of the oil, and when that worked it made them happy. But, coming under pressure to do something about all the oil leaking out and poisoning the environment, they finally decided to try shutting down the well by squiring various substances into it. The procedures they’ve tried, going by idiotic Top Gun names like “junk shot” and “top kill”—have all been to no avail. At some point it becomes clear that there is no oil well—just a large, untidy hole in the sea bottom with hydrocarbons spewing out of it, forming huge surface slicks and underwater plumes of oil that kill all they encounter and eventually wash up on land to continue the damage there, turning the Gulf Coast into a disaster area. Starting in another month or so the toxic soup composed of oily tropical seawater and decomposing coastal vegetation and sea life will be stirred up and driven inland by tropical storms and hurricanes. Gulf Coast oil-grunge will become the de facto new national style: oil-streaked skin and clothing and perhaps a dead pelican for a sunhat.

When things go horribly wrong, it is natural for us mere mortals to try to obtain a bit of psychological comfort by holding on to familiar images. A person who has totaled his car tends to continue to refer to the twisted wreckage as “my car” instead of “the wreckage of my car.” In the case someone’s wrecked car, this may be accepted as mere shorthand, but in many other cases this tendency results in people working with an outdated mental map which leads them astray, because the properties of a wreck are quite different from those of an intact object. For example, our lost leaders are continuing to refer to “the financial system” instead of “the wreck of the financial system.” If they had the flexibility to make that mental switch, perhaps they wouldn’t insist on continuing to pump in more and more public debt, only to watch it spew out again through a tangle of broken pipes so horrific that it defies all understanding, with quite a lot of it mysteriously dribbling into the vaults and pockets of bankers and billionaire investors. It will be interesting to watch their attempts at a financial “top kill” or “junk shot” to plug the ensuing geyser of toxic debt.

It is natural for us to naïvely expect our leaders—be they corporate executives or their increasingly decorative and superfluous adjuncts in government—to be our betters, having been picked for leadership positions by their ability to lead us through difficult and unfamiliar terrain. We expect them to have the mental agility and flexibility to be able to revise their mental maps as the circumstances dictate. We don’t expect them to be stupid, and are surprised to find that indeed they are. How is that possible? Mental enfeeblement of the ruling class of a collapsing empire is not without precedent: the British imperial experiment was clearly doomed as early as the end of World War I, but it took until well into World War II for this fact to register in the enfeebled brains of the British ruling class. In his 1941 essayEngland your England, George Orwell offers the following explanation:

The British ruling class obviously could not admit that their usefulness of was at an end. Had they done that they would have had to abdicate…  Clearly there was only one escape for them—into stupidity. They could keep society in its existing shape only by being unable to grasp that any improvement was possible. Difficult though it was, they achieved it, largely by fixing their eyes on the past and refusing to notice the changes that were going on [a]round them.”

And so it is now: as the American empire has been crumbling, its leaders, both corporate and corporatist, were being specially selected for being unable to draw their own conclusions based on their own independent reasoning or on the evidence of their own senses, relying instead on “intelligence” that is second-hand and obsolete. These leaders are now attempting to lead us all on a dream-walk to oblivion.

Back in 2008 I published the prediction that while Chernobyl was rather decisive in putting paid to the Soviet scientific/technological program and in dispelling all remaining trust in the Soviet political establishment, the US program of scientific/technological progress and ruthless exploitation of nature is more likely to suffer a death by a thousand cuts. But if one of these cuts hits an artery early on, a thousand cuts would be overkill. Just as with any wreck, the properties of a radically phlebotomized body politic are rather different from those of a healthy one, or even a sick one—not that our lost leaders could notice something like that! They will no doubt go on going on about money and oil (and the predictable lack thereof), but they might as well be telling us about their milk and lemonade, and please hold the drilling mud. How embarrassing!

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 04:10am

    #124
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

[quote=xraymike79]

BP and all the other oil corps, indeed all transnational corps, are global psychopathic criminals. One day, I hope soon, they will be brought to justice for this. Corporations are inherently selfish, pathological entities whose sole purpose is profit AT ALL COST. The Earth, its human and non-human inhabitants, none of us – none of this – factors into the corpporate bottom line. When they’re done plundering the planet, they’ll just leave the uninhabitable mess to us unlucky billions, build themselves ships with the remaining raw materials, and take off in search of new Wild Wests. You may think this is science fiction. Not so long ago, so were flying machines and self-propelled horse carriages. It will take a social revolution of epic proportions to stop this trend.

[/quote]

It seems to me that the BP blowout is just another example of human failings rather than criminality. As an example of how this works, consider the drug cartels and the carnage in Mexico. Average American Joe probably doesn’t think much of the consequences of buying a little weed, but multiply this seemingly harmless appetite by millions and you get the drug cartels as suppliers of the market. Our oil addiction is similar. Mom and pop operations are not capable of supplying our demand for oil. It takes big money and big organizations to deliver our oil fix. Most of the employees of corporations are solid citizens just trying to do a job. Sometimes they aren’t quite up to the task. There is no need to invoke criminal intent where simple incompetence can explain things. Most likely the top management at BP has no engineering expertise. All they see is rig time costing them a million per day and they apply pressure to cut corners. They failed to repair an ailing blowout preventer, failed to check the quality of the cement bond and seal and imprudently removed the heavy mud from the production casing. Pressure from top management probably created the conditions for a disaster but a lot of people below had to also exercise poor judgement along the way.

It seems to me that the well blowout disaster and the economic meltdown have some similar causes. The people at the top of big corporations and banks often make obscene amounts of money without possessing any real knowledge of the base operations of their businesses. But who puts them in such powerful positions? Boards of directors focused on short term markets. The problem is not with the existence of big corporations or big banks. Big and complex are necessary features of many businesses. The problems lie with the management structures.

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 04:37am

    #125
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

Stan,

     I appreciate your view, but I disagree. Clearly BP has counted cutting corners as just a small cost of doing business. Externalization of costs is killing you, me, my children, and the planet.

Screw the Environment: BP and the Audacity of Corporate Greed‎ –

In an incredible display of corporate arrogance, BP is claiming that a current safety requirement that undersea wells drilled during the newly ice-free summer must also include a side relief well, so as to have a preventive measure in place that could shut down a blown well, is “too expensive” and should be eliminated.

Yet clearly, if the US had had such a provision in place, the Deepwater Horizon blowout could have been shut down almost immediately after it blew out, just by turning of a valve or two, and then sealing off the blown wellhead.

A relief well is “too expensive”?

The current Gulf blowout has already cost BP over half a billion dollars, according to the company’s own information. That doesn’t count the cost of mobilizing the Coast Guard, the Navy, and untold state and county resources, and it sure doesn’t count the cost of the damage to the Gulf Coast economy, or the cost of restoration of damaged wetlands. We’re talking at least tens of billions of dollars, and maybe eventually hundreds of billions. Weigh that against the cost of drilling a relief well, which BP claims will run about $100 million.

 

Putting aside any opinions/views you or I have of Fidel Castro, he is right on with the following statement:

… the disaster “shows how little governments can do against those who control the capital, who in both the United States and Europe are, due to the economy of our globalized planet, those who decide the destiny of the public.”

Castro on Spill: Corporations Unstoppable – CBS News

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 08:29am

    #126
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

Posted: May 30, 2010

‘We can’t make this well stop flowing’

Latest effort to plug oil leak failed, BP says

 COVINGTON, La. — BP admitted defeat Saturday in its latest attempt to stop the worst oil spill in U.S. history and said it will try another measure to plug the gusher that has dumped 18 million to 40 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico over the past five weeks.

“This scares everybody, the fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven’t succeeded so far,” said Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer.

BP has made several attempts to plug the gusher and had predicted the latest one, called a top kill, had a 60%-70% chance of success.

But Saturday, the oil giant conceded failure. Now it’s preparing another approach — cutting off the damaged riser from which the oil is leaking and trying to cap it with a containment valve already resting on the seafloor. That is expected to take four days. BP didn’t say when it will begin.

Late Saturday, President Barack Obama said the continuing spill is “as enraging as it is heartbreaking” and that the new approach is risky and hasn’t been tried before.

 

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 04:45pm

    #127
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

[quote=Stan Robertson]

 All they see is rig time costing them a million per day and they apply pressure to cut corners. They failed to repair an ailing blowout preventer, failed to check the quality of the cement bond and seal and imprudently removed the heavy mud from the production casing. Pressure from top management probably created the conditions for a disaster but a lot of people below had to also exercise poor judgement along the way.

[/quote]

Stan,

I think you are absolutely correct in your assertions here.  However, these actions are not those of humans trying to do the “right” thing and having a mishap – human failings.  This is willful negligence in the hope of greater profit.

Human failings in the form of unethical behavior can certainly lead to criminal acts.  Personally, I view BP’s behavior as criminal.  From before the accident to the present.  The application of the dispersant serves no true purpose other than to remove the oil from our view and to mitigate BP’s cleanup costs. The effects of the submerged oil will be more catastrophic than had the dispersant not been used, I fear.  Not to mention the toxic nature of the dispersants themselves.

Are the employees “solid citizens just doing their job”, as you say?  I don’t know them to know anything of their character.  However, the “just doing our job” is a dangerous road of apology.

It is truly saddening and enraging as Obama said.  However, my real  rage is because of the collusion of goverment and corporations to lie and obscure the truth so that their criminal actions may proceed to fulfill the profit motives of those involved.

Here is a clip from over at Mish’s site.  http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/05/bp-abandons-top-kill-more-images-failed.html

 

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 05:23pm

    #128
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

Stan

You lost “street cred” with me a long time ago with your comments about fracking being a safe process. You are a long way from getting it back here.

No one was held accountable for the EXXON Valdez disaster thanks to the corruption of  our court system. This system has completely distorted what is criminal and what is not. Oil companies have paid off politicians to enable them to get around supposed government regs. This my friend is criminal. If you don’t get that then I can only assume you work for the petrochemical mafia or are completely amoral.

I find it interesting that you would use the analogy of the drug cartels which have worked hand in glove with the CIA for years.

V

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 05:27pm

    #129
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

[quote=MarkM]

 

Human failings in the form of unethical behavior can certainly lead to criminal acts.  Personally, I view BP’s behavior as criminal.  From before the accident to the present.  The application of the dispersant serves no true purpose other than to remove the oil from our view and to mitigate BP’s cleanup costs. The effects of the submerged oil will be more catastrophic than had the dispersant not been used, I fear.  Not to mention the toxic nature of the dispersants themselves.

 

[/quote]

 

Another angle on this is how the corporations at large will view the government’s response. As with the bailouts, once they see there are no serious consequences for a preventable catastrophe of this magnitude, there is little incentive to prevent another disaster like this.  How bad will the next events be if we let BP off the hook for this?  Probably worse and more frequent.  JMHO

Denise

  • Sun, May 30, 2010 - 06:45pm

    #131
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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

If oil drillers are required to drill relief wells in advance then the cost will increase. Is the increase in the price of energy worth avoiding the expenses of a oil spill disaster? You bet your sweet ass it is. Therefore, as oil companies will have to pay more in costs of drilling, the price of the oil that is being brought to market will also have to increase.

In addition, as existing oil wells continue their irreversible decline in production, the oil industry will look in more deepwater areas. Thus, cost of energy will continue to rise. Will society tolerate higher energy costs at the expense of saving our environment? Will the government implement stricter regulations in the pursuit of deepwater oil? Lets hope so. Time will tell at this point.

As a lawyer:

Negligence: a failure to realize the risk which a reasonable person can see

Recklessness: A conscious DISREGARD of the risk.

What BP did was RECKLESS. They consciously disregarded the risk of using a busted blowout preventer.

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