Saturday, June 26, 2010

Getting The Picture (updated)

Yesterday I spoke about the lack of informational leadership. Today we have a sample of just how difficult it is to get an accurate picture of what is actually happening in the Gulf of Mexico, as the news media distorts the picture in both directions. Some want to scare us to death with the hysterical rantings of idiots, and some seek to calm the public with soothing platitudes and inaccurate reassurances.

Case in point, an AP story headlined on Salon as, “Tropical storm Alex not on track for Gulf.” In the article itself they approach slightly closer to accuracy, saying that, “prediction models no longer have it going across the oil spill,” but they make no mention of it having any effect on the management of the crisis.

imageHere is NOAA’s storm track prediction, which clearly belies Salon’s headline; Alex is certainly headed for the Gulf. While the likely track does not directly impact the Deepwater Horizon site, a storm’s effects are felt for many miles and if the storm strengthens, as it is predicted to do over the warm waters of the Gulf, winds and waves could seriously affect control efforts with the storm track as shown.

We get significant sea effects in San Diego from tropical Pacific storms that are much farther away than the track projected by NOAA for Alex, and the article as published by Salon utterly fails to convey any sense of a need for concern about this storm as to either well control or cleanup efforts.

My point here is not the possibility of problems presented by the storm, but the nature of the article as published by Salon, which conveys a sense that the storm is a non-issue with respect to Deepwater Horizon and that it is symptomatic of the lack of real coverage that we are getting. That is why leadership in terms of providing information to the public matters, and why the lack of it today is so serious.

Update: Saturday, 2:45pm
The latest track from NOAA shows Alex tending much more westerly, which lessens the liklihood of it impacting Deepwater Horizon and is very good news. That does not alter my point about the nature of AP's and Salon's reporting.

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