Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why is Who In Charge?

Chris Matthews is in a state of righteous and indignant anger over the oil disaster in the Gulf and wants to know why it is being dealt with in such a casual manner, and for once I am in pretty much the same place he is. Like him, I do not think that every effort possible is being expended and, like him, I simply do not understand why not.

When a company creates a natural disaster, why does the government stand back and allow that company to be in complete charge of managing the corrective action for that disaster? They don’t do that when an airplane crashes; they don’t stand by with their hands in their pockets and wait for the airline company to perform rescue and restore the runway to operation. They don’t do that when there is a multi-car crash on the highway, waiting for the car and truck owners to sort things out on their own; the police step in and take charge, directing traffic and organizing rescue and tow trucks.

So why, here, are they taking a hands off approach and letting BP remain in charge of corrective action of the problem which BP caused? There might be reason to allow BP to participate under government direction, but why are they left in complete and absolute control of the scene of the disaster?

When Woods Hole said they wanted to bring their undersea equipment to help evaluate the scope of this problem, why was BP allowed to tell them to stay away? Why are we left relying on BP’s estimates for the flow rate of the leaking oil, when others are saying that it could be, and appears to be, much larger but are not allowed on scene to evaluate it? The only information we and the scientific community are allowed to have is that provided by the criminals who caused the disaster.

Why did it take three weeks before the flagship of our nation’s oceanic research fleet was even turned toward this disaster? Ronald H Brown could have been on station for some time and helping us to know the scope of this disaster, and instead she is still on her way from the coast of Africa, where she idled for three weeks while the Gulf of Mexico was dying.

Why are we still guessing about the size of the leak, a full month after it began, and why is it that the only estimated number being used is the number provided by the company that created that leak to begin with and which is concealing that leak from the view of anyone else who could evaluate it?

We have the technology and the scientific ability to know exactly how large the leak is and the precise extent to which the spilled oil is spreading, and the government is allowing BP to deliberately conceal that information from us to prevent us from knowing just how bad this problem really is.

As an aside, not everyone believes this disaster is all that bad. The weatherman at our local independent television station, who is also an ardent advocate of climate change denial and believes that his credentials as a tv weatherman makes him an expert on global climate, showed a satellite image of the Gulf oil spill and observed that “it hasn’t done significant damage at this point, and this image shows that it isn’t likely to.”

Apparently he thinks his credentials as a tv weatherman qualifies him as an expert oceanographer as well. Something certainly qualifies him as an idiot and a buffoon.

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