Oilmaggedon, Day 15

USA Today has an animated map that helps put the oil spill into perspective. I’ve been imagining this as a drifting blob. The map helps you see that it is spreading more than drifting. Usually, you want to calm your fears by “putting them into perspective.” I’m sorry this doesn’t do that. I’m sorry that’s not what I meant.

The USA Today map also shows the locations of the booms. I found that interesting. It helped me understand the comments made a few days ago by a Gulfport councilman that Mississippi and Gulfport in particular were being sacrificed as the booms helped steer the oil away from Louisiana wetlands. My first reaction to that was to feel defensive on behalf of my state. I even felt justified in this when I heard on the local news that there were no booms at Gulfport at a time when predictions had oil coming straight toward the Mississippi Coast within the next day or so.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. The weather, currents, and all of the other factors involved just aren’t as predictable as we like to think. But look at those booms on the map. They’re actually pretty scarce when looking at the ocean as a whole. They are set up around federal wildlife reserves and other highly sensitive areas. They aren’t nearly prevalent enough to actually guide the oil to any particular place, though. It’s going to go where it goes. The Coast Guard, no matter how hard at work, has very little influence.

Meanwhile, everyone is squawking about what’s what. Some say this is doomsday. Some say it’s not so bad. In truth, it is that bad. It is that big. But maybe we aren’t completely without hope of containing it.

On that note, I found two real significant pieces of information today. One, BP is going ahead with the long range plan of drilling a relief well to try to divert the flow from the one that is leaking. This could take up to 90 days to complete. That’s depressing. We can’t afford 90 more days of oil pumping into the Gulf at the current rate. I don’t even want to imagine. This is only one part of the plan, though. Let’s hope some of the more temporary measures work to bandage it up in the meantime, and let’s at least be grateful we do have a long range plan.

Next, they are trying to clean up some of the oil on the water by doing controlled burns. Maybe other people already knew about this, but I just heard about it today. Bad for the air, but good for the fish, except for the ones that get fried, of course. I don’t know whether controlled burns are good or bad, but at least they are trying something. It makes me feel better to know that they are attempting to reduce the amount of oil floating around out there.

I’ll try to remember it made me feel better when the black clouds start hovering over my house.

Random Thoughts

1. Despite the fact that tens of thousands of oil rigs have been operating in the Gulf without significant incident for decades, it only takes one catastrophic incident from one rig to kill a whole ocean.

2. No one, not even giant companies with giant budgets at stake, can be trusted to be prepared for the worst.

3. Nature has an astounding capacity to recover itself from catastrophes of nature. It has little hope against man-made catastrophes.

4. Dead sea animals are already washing up on the beaches at Waveland and Pass Christian. I know this because of pictures friends from coastal towns have posted on Facebook, not because it is being reported in the news.

5. Gene Taylor is downplaying the significance of the oil spill. Gene Taylor evidently has a political death wish.

6. The boons being used to protect the Louisiana wetlands from the oil spill are also being used to direct the oil toward the Mississippi beaches. I’m speechless on this. Thanks, Coast Guard. Mississippi is always happy to be the nation’s dump.

7. Too many people around here make their livings from the oil field for Mississippi to get behind shutting down the Gulf oil operations even if we do take the worst of the hit here. We do need to be a lot more concerned about getting out from under our oil dependency, though. We need to step up efforts toward conservation and toward moving to alternative fuel sources. We also need to step up efforts to bring in other industries to provide jobs.

8. Whatever happens this week along the coast will only be the start of a long term nightmare. We’ll only hold the attention of the national news until the first wave of high drama subsides.

9. The Sun Herald has put together a list of links to organizations and volunteer efforts for cleanup efforts. It seems to me that one of the best places for people from other places to support financially is The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. They’ll be training people to help with cleanup in addition to trying to save animals.

10. I don’t eat seafood, but if I did, I’d be eating whatever I could get this week.

Not Necessarily the News

As I now have the opportunity to come out of my grading coma a little, I’ve attempted to catch up a little on what’s going on the world today. Mistake, mistake, mistake. At least, the way I went about it was a mistake. I tried to watch some news on TV. Why do I continue to expect the news to inform me in some way, only to be disappointed time and time again?

I don’t care much for infotainment, weak on info. That’s my complaint of the day. Otherwise I’ve been resting up from the past few weeks of job-related stress. It’s been a blustery day. I think that’s an appropriate word for rain with steady Gulf winds high enough to knock some patio chairs around but not high enough to do any real damage.

It’s been blustery, and the news has been watery and disappointing despite that fact that I did mange to find out that Gene Taylor took a plane ride over the Gulf and thinks it looks like chocolate milk. I think that was supposed to comfort us somehow.

The cats and I, though, are just hanging out, taking a day off from making any particular effort whatsoever. Not much to report here.

Though as a little bonus, I will leave you with this clip from Winnie the Pooh’s “Blustery Day.” It’s more entertaining than the news.