Sam Redman's Musings

Random thoughts on a variety of subjects

Media can’t handle Gulf good news

By Sam Redman

It’s time to accept the good news. The oil is gone… there are no tiny oil droplets remaining beneath the surface. Since no oil can be found on the ocean and nothing is on the beaches, that’s all the doomsayers can come up with… “tiny droplets are hidden beneath the surface” (which of course, can’t be found). Whatever droplets might have been produced by the natural emulsification process of the ocean water’s movement and the chemical dispersants which enable the oil to emulsify faster have now been consumed the same way naturally seeping oil has been digested every single day of every year for the past many millenniums. Although I discussed this briefly in an earlier post, it bears repeating (and expanding) for those who arrived here on a recent web search. The gulf has literally thousands of oil seeps which occur naturally. These put out oil every day and have for probably thousands of years. The volume of that naturally seeping oil every year far surpasses what came out in this “spill” over the few months when the well was uncapped. Over that long period of seeping oil time (could have been millions of years) a very special bacteria has developed (evolved) in the gulf waters, a peculiar microbe which was designed by creative nature to consume this oil very rapidly. In the warm gulf waters with that bacteria present there is no way any “tiny oil droplet” could survive even a few days.

You keep hearing “experts,” who all have their own agendas (they are those who make a living just taking the easy position of castigating all chemicals irrespective of scientific data), saying that these dispersants used are going to do untold damage. However, the gulf has enormous capacity to consume and handle the chemicals (which are actually non-persistent, meaning they themselves degrade rapidly) such as those found in the dispersants. The ingredients in the Corexit compound are actually the same ones commonly used in industrial, office and school floor cleaners, which are mopped up with water and then flushed down our sewer systems. There are far more gallons of those chemicals which go into our rivers and streams daily in the United States than were used in handling this entire spill. By the time they reach the gulf, none of those are detectable… all destroyed to their natural elements by simple degradation. A conservative calculation shows that the Mississippi River deposits more than 3.3 million gallons of water into the Gulf every second. In a month that’s 8 quadrillion (8 thousand billion) gallons of new water flooding in every month. A US government site says it is 11.5 thousand billion gallons per month (that’s 11.5 quadrillion). Now you know why they call it “The Mighty Mississippi.” That flow continuously causes constant movement outward, away from the Louisiana shores and serves to cleanse anything which might have contaminated the area around the Delta.

The gulf basin itself contains 643 quadrillion gallons of water (a quadrillion is a thousand billion). The tiny amount of oil, even if it were 100 million gallons, is literally like one eye dropper drop in a swimming pool, and if this were a swimming pool teeming with specially designed oil consuming bacteria, they would eat up that single drop very rapidly.

The fish, shrimp and oysters are unlikely to be affected at all from this truly insignificant hiccup on the quadrillions of gallons of gulf waters. And even if all of the harvest were lost for a year for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama the dockside value would be $226 million for the shrimp and $61 million for the oysters. And the revenue from all the commercial fish and shellfish harvest from all five U.S. Gulf states is valued annually at $661 million. Now, think of it, if the entire year’s production for all fish, shrimp and oysters were lost it would be less than one billion dollars.

But, the entire year of all of those isn’t lost (and the fisherman got paid to do skimming during the “spill”) and now most are able to start work again (if not already, then very soon), so the economic cost is going to be far, far less than if an entire year’s production were lost. The beaches are open. Recreational fishing is open. Commercial fishing is being restored rapidly. The oil which wasn’t skimmed (that was about 20% of what was released) has evaporated (it’s a very thin oil, somewhat like kerosene, to start with and is quite volatile) or has been consumed by bacteria. The beaches are clean. In fact, with the crews doing the cleanups daily, finding really very few tar balls, the beaches have always been very usable… but now they are getting the “official” green light for full usage.

So… it is time to rejoice. Time to start praising the circumstances which now look so good in contrast to the doom and gloom which has been spread so long. The media did a job on the public and that has caused the recreation industry to suffer. But there are so many with a financial stake in the crisis continuing; from those who are being paid for “make work” to occupy their boats either looking for oil to skim, which can’t be found, or looking for the one per day tar balls on the beaches, which are virtually non existent (tar balls from the “seeps” have been seen occasionally on these beaches since I was a little child) to those who profit from doing investigations about ongoing “hidden” damages. Environmental groups which are funded by government (and now BP money) want to keep justifying their “work” to test the waters and to create doomsday theories about what “might happen” or to conduct ongoing recovery projects in areas which simply recover naturally just by the normal growth of plants and wildlife. So you will hear many people continue to beat that drum that the oil crisis is going to reek ongoing havoc, because the disaster recovery business is a giant money making venture. One parish “president” was moaning because the peripheral services like the catering of food for the beach cleaning crews was being discontinued. And with BP pledging the 20 billion and the government saying that isn’t even the limit, there are many opportunists with their hands out who simply don’t want this “disaster” to be over.

An example of the way the media has treated this situation is illustrated in an Associated Press news article which was published today (August 2). It has appeared in newspapers all over the country and the world (because it is from the AP), supposedly a trustworthy news organization. In the article which is ostensibly positioned to be telling about the FDA declaring seafood safe for human consumption they say that “…even some Gulf fishermen are questioning whether the fish and shrimp are OK to feed to their own families. ” And then they quote only one who made the following absolutely ridiculous comparison and remark:

“If I put fish in a barrel of water and poured oil and Dove detergent over that, and mixed it up, would you eat that fish?” asked Rusty Graybill, an oysterman and shrimp and crab fisherman from Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish. “I wouldn’t feed it to you or my family. I’m afraid someone’s going to get sick.”

Of course, any reasonable person can understand that such an example is totally unscientific (as anyone can know by becoming familiar with the facts) and is blatantly and completely irrelevant to the real situation present in the gulf, but the AP article fails to point out how ludicrous the comparison is nor does it provide any sort of counter argument by a scientific authority (or merely an educated person) to explain why the likelihood of fish being contaminated in the gulf from this spill or the dispersants is actually only very remotely possible.

What is further troublesome is the shallowness of these reporters because they knew that such an illogical example would appeal to the uneducated masses who (like that fisherman seems to be) are part of the current “dumbing down of America” campaign which an article like this serves to perpetuate. And how can it be explained that a fisherman could make such a statement to the media when he would know that by doing so he was only serving to continue the media invoked national panic and further cause harm to his own way of life? If not from ignorance, his total lack of loyalty to his trade and his livelihood and his region can possibly only be explained as stemming from greed. It might be that he has already seen the first payouts from BP for his lost income to date and he has hopes (maybe even influenced by local attorneys trying to organize a class action lawsuit) that if the public can be kept from buying the seafood, the chances of him making a big score in subsequent legal actions will be greatly enhanced.

But why would the writers of this story present it the way they did with that nonsensical analogy about fish being contaminated in a barrel? There is only one explanation for that… their only agenda is sensationalism with no regard for the truth. To them keeping the bad news alive and enabling the crisis to continue keeps them on the job longer. Good news ends the story, but distortion and misrepresentation gets them wide and continuing circulation.

And who is going to suffer from those greedy people who want to perpetuate the myth that this is “going to go on and on” for years? It’s those who have all the peripheral jobs to the fishing and recreational industries (and the gulf economy in general) because of bad publicity keeping visitors away and making people think that perhaps the seafood is contaminated. It’s time for the media to quit airing the whining locals with their own self-interests in the “recovery bonanza” and the “experts” with their comments like “we don’t know what the ongoing effects will be,” which means that in spite of admittedly not knowing anything about it, in other words; they don’t have any data, they are willing to repeatedly say that ridiculous phrase, which means nothing, to scare the public with the spectre of the unknown.

The truth is what is needed here, but since the truth is “good news,” we won’t be hearing that from the media if they can prevent it. The old adage in the media world is “good news isn’t news, unless you are talking about sports or lower taxes.” The oil spill crisis being over? They aren’t going to let that get much air time.

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This entry was posted on August 2, 2010 by and tagged , , , , , , .