Nostra-Drill-Us

nostradamus A comrade at The Oil Drum, watching British Petroleum’s attempts to stop the catastrophic Horizon Deepwater blowout with drilling mud, wrote:

I do think that when this whole tense episode is finally over and done with, it just might turn out to be one of those truly defining moments that changes our collective view about energy and what we’re willing to pay to keep getting it in the ways we’ve taken for granted.

That would be grand. But I would wager very heavily against it. Substantially reducing our oil acquisition efforts would be a grave threat to cars-first transportation in the United States. Threatening cars-first transportation is threatening corporate capitalism, which could not survive the loss of the automotive-industrial sector. Hence, there will be intense, coordinated efforts to pour political mud down our windpipes if and when control over the undersea gusher arrives.

For what it’s worth, as posted at TOD, here is my own prediction of what will happen after the blowout gets sealed or the relief wells come on line in August or September:

What makes you think our collective view is going to start receiving consideration? Nothing could be more threatening to the continuance of corporate capitalism. There will be much hand-wringing, a few monkey trials, and another toughening of the regulations. Then deep-water drilling will resume in full. Nothing else is possible, barring a major social upheaval.

This is just a 6-month whirlpool in the status quo.

I pray I’m wrong here, but that’s my assessment.

It’s also possible, of course, that it will prove to be impossible to stop the oil blowout, or that Top Kill and/or the relief wells will make the blowout worse. In that case, the Gulf of Mexico may be completely ruined for centuries to come, if it isn’t already. In that terrible case, the odds of an uprising increase substantially, as the elite palliatives will be very hard to sell, even in this distracted, TV-addicted land.

As to the rest of the residents of the region, seems to me this will put more fuel in the tank of the Latin American left. How will Mexico and Colombia, for instance, be able to cope with the consequences of a dying Gulf while also preserving their radically inegalitarian and hidebound socio-political orders? How will US overlords be able to continue punishing and demonizing Cuba and Venezuela in the face of the extreme damages and hardships they are sure to face? Hugo and Fidel didn’t cause this Eco-Fuck. Our own naked emperors did, undeniably.

Who’d Have Guessed?

Apparently, actual study reveals that “the leak from the broken undersea well [is] substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.”

captain renaultCaptain Renault, he of the automotive surname, is once again shocked, shocked to discover that while the government of the market-worshipping Barack Obama has been basing its estimates solely on the pathetic gesture of looking at satellite photos, British Petroleum, finalist for the now-postponed 2010 Safety Award for Excellence from the U.S. Interior Department’s Mineral Management Service, has been actively blocking scientists’ efforts to look under the water and see what’s there:

BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well.

The answer is no to that,” a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday. “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.”

“The answer is no to that,” said Daddy to the toddlers, the Emperor to the miscreant peasants who wanted to photograph His Holiness’s Exalted Suit of Clothes.

And what do the photos the peasants took anyway demonstrate?  That the scale of the spill is now somewhere between 5 and 16 NINETEEN times larger than the government and BP admit:

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.

Par, absolute par for the course.

Orwell Was an Amateur

henhouse The things that happen in market totalitarian America simply couldn’t be imagined by the greatest of dystopian fiction writers.

To wit:

The Interior Department’s Mineral Management Service has postponed a Monday safety awards luncheon at which a nominee for two awards was BP — which operated the oil rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening an unprecedented environmental disaster along much of the nation’s Gulf Coast.

The awards ceremony recognizes “outstanding safety and pollution prevention performance by the offshore oil and gas industry.” BP was nominated for its work on the outer continental shelf.

The big winner of last year’s SAFE award was Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded last month under BP’s management. BP was also a finalist at the 2009 conference.

And this:

BP’s Awards Page

And, of course, this:

BP, the company that owned the Louisiana oil rig that exploded last week, spent years battling federal regulators over how many layers of safeguards would be needed to prevent a deepwater well from this type of accident.

One area of immediate concern, industry experts said, was the lack of a remote system that would have allowed workers to clamp shut Deepwater Horizon’s wellhead so it would not continue to gush oil. The rig is now spilling 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter sent last year to the Department of the Interior, BP objected to what it called “extensive, prescriptive regulations” proposed in new rules to toughen safety standards. “We believe industry’s current safety and environmental statistics demonstrate that the voluntary programs…continue to be very successful.”

oil bird

The Free Market in Action

oil waves

Now questions are sure to be raised about a self-policing system that trusted a commercial operator to take care of its own mishap even as it grew into a menace imperiling Gulf Coast nature and livelihoods from Florida to Texas.

Will this be Obama’s Katrina? Should the federal and state governments have done more, and earlier? Did they learn the lessons of the devastating hurricane?

CBS News

Golly, I wonder…

We believe in capitalism; we believe in people getting rich.” — Barack Obama

ROFLMAO.  The lessons at hand are of no interest to Zerobama and everybody else in our bought and sold, election-by-dollars political system.

Cars Driving Climate Change

smog NASA researchers confirm that automobiles are the planet’s #1 source of emissions of substances suspected of causing anthropogenic global warming:

In a paper published online on Feb. 3 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Unger and colleagues described how they used a climate model to estimate the impact of 13 sectors of the economy from 2000 to 2100. They based their calculations on real-world inventories of emissions collected by scientists around the world, and they assumed that those emissions would stay relatively constant in the future.

In their analysis, motor vehicles emerged as the greatest contributor to atmospheric warming now and in the near term. Cars, buses, and trucks release pollutants and greenhouse gases that promote warming, while emitting few aerosols that counteract it.

The NASA scientists say, correctly, that conventional reports on climate change focus on chemicals, rather than the sources of the chemicals in actual economic sectors. Only by focusing on the latter, they argue, can we “identify effective opportunities for rapid mitigation of anthropogenic radiative forcing.”

So, if cars are the #1 source of anthropogenic global warming, what do you imagine might be the #1 policy requirement for rapid mitigation of the problem? Rather obvious, but utterly unmentionable…