The number of ways that the statists feed us like “mushrooms in the dark” is almost limitless. I intend to write several essays on the theme of “Maleficent Disingenuousness” that I recently wrote about in this blog.
The present dose of tripe that we are being subjected to is the demagoguery attendant to the tragic situation presently developing in the Gulf of Mexico with the “Horizon oil spill.” The media, the newspapers, the commentators, the TV, the environmentalists, and a bevy of others are touting this disaster as the greatest environmental tragedy of all time. A tragedy it is … but … the greatest of all time? Only if you are trying manipulate the “Crowd” as demagogues are wont to do. If the “Crowd”, the “Demos”, Us, We, You and I, can be incensed enough, or horrified enough, or repelled, disgusted or repulsed enough, then the demagogues, the manipulators, the “changers” will be given free rein to put their sweeping regulations into place. This is a beautiful example of how to put more socialistic control into place by following the dictum of President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel’s tenet of “never let a crisis go to waste.”
The hue and cry in the Administration is that BP Petroleum is criminal (the US Attorney General is investigating) and therefore governmental action is necessary. If these demagogues can incense the populace enough, then there is a distinct possibility that they can advance their agenda by nationalizing at least BP, if not the entire oil industry. But true to Fabian tactics, even if their efforts do not in fact result in the take over the industry, they will probably be able to do it in a de facto manner by legislating a mountain of incomprehensible regulation to gain their desired ends. And failing all that, there is a move by the radical left in the Congress to force BP into some kind of receivership or possibly bankruptcy. The fact is that BP’s legal obligation to this spill is, by Federal law, $75,000,000. That is the limit of their exposure. Now members of Congress, suddenly seeing their error are threatening to change the law, forcing BP to pay billions. Apparently, some past Congress had reasoned that the cost of any large oilfield calamity was to be picked up by the American people. Now, politically, the Congress is between a rock and a hard place. The American people are demanding that BP pay for its transgressions. BP has agreed to comply, although it is under no legal compulsion to do so. The Congress feels the pressure to legally force the oil company’s compliance, but if they try they will have to pass an Ex-Post Facto Law, which will additionally be a “Bill of Attainder.” Both are Un-Constitutional. Alternatively, some of the more liberal members are suggesting that BP be put into bankruptcy or be taken over, possibly cheating the stockholders and bond holders as was done in the case of GM last year. My guess is that if the socialistic meddlers assert themselves, BP will revert to their legal obligation.
But let us look at the crisis itself. Is this the largest environmental tragedy of American history? Hardly! So although it is not over at this time, and it is apparent that we do not know of the ultimate extent of the disaster, it is unlikely, however, that it will be the largest oil spill of all time. Actually, it will have to go a lot to be the largest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That dubious title, presently and probably in the future, goes to the Ixtoc I oil spill off the coast of Yucatan, which lasted from June of 1979 until March of 1980. The official volume of this spill is listed at 140 million gallons, but some authorities have estimated its volume at 400 million plus gallons of oil. When Saddam’s soldiers wrecked the oil fields in Kuwait, at least 292 million gallons flooded into the Persian Gulf. The much-denounced Exxon Valdez spill by comparison was 10.9 million gallons, 28 times less.
To understand the environmental impact of any disaster like this, one must try to quantify its extent. A good environmentalist friend of mine jokingly quipped once that, “the solution to pollution is dilution.” My research finds that the total volume of water in the Gulf of Mexico is 660 quadrillion gallons. If this new spill ultimately amounts to the volume of the spill in the Persian Gulf, it would have a concentration of one part in approximately 3 billion. I once calculated that the Exxon Valdez spill was sufficient to cover Prince William Sound with a film less than the thickness of a human hair. (0.004″) We humans are pretty gullible and we cannot quantify very well, for the most part, whatever the press feeds us, we eat. The people who report these disasters to us try to sensationalize their stories in order to sell copy. What we see in pictures or are told about in story lines is always presented in a distorted, over blown, manner. We see pictures of pitifully compromised wild life struggling on shorelines inches deep in oil. We are told that the oil is dispersing deep under the water. We are being subtly lied to.
The oil soaked birds and other wild life are for the most part found at the shoreline where the oil from the sea has been concentrated at the beach by the action of the ocean currents, wind, surf and tides. Many of these animals can be found … and are found by caring conservationists and most of those found are saved. Certainly though, many do, regrettably, perish. But put this grisly scene into perspective. The reports from the Gulf indicate that 25 of these animals are found daily … there are, for instance, an estimated 650,000 brown pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico Basin. Now reflect on your own personal effect on the environment each day. For breakfast you had bacon and eggs … this required a dead pig and sacrificed two baby chickens. For lunch you had a chicken sandwich and a salad … this required a dead chicken and the salad you ate was still alive. For dinner you had a steak and ice cream … this required a dead cow and the dessert you ate robbed a calf of its supper. Your day’s sustenance required three dead chickens, a dead pig, a dead cow, the murder of a living life form and the robbery of a helpless baby. This tragic accident in the Gulf has resulted or will result in the death many beings, but the saddest toll in life was the death of the 11 men who were trying to provide for the lifestyle that we all enjoy. But for God’s sake, we should be realistic about it. The impact on animal and human life is de minimus.
As to the oil in the water, we should think about it. The oil gushing out of the well a mile below the surface of the water is, as can clearly be seen from the videos of it coming from the well head, rising to the surface, otherwise a mound of tar and gunk would be seen accumulating around the well head. Petroleum is lighter than water. The only plausible reason for oil to be found mixed into the ocean water is because of the “dispersants” sprayed onto the floating oil to make it sink. (Out of sight, out of mind?) Otherwise the oil should be floating and therefore accessible to concentration and recovery. The oil booms that we have all seen are deployed to surround an oil slick. Once the slick is contained, it is a simple matter to use a “skimmer” to suck up the oil, with some water of course, into a large container, like a supertanker, where the oil can easily be separated from the water. This technique was used in the Persian Gulf by the Saudi’s. It is estimated that they recovered between 800 and 900,000 barrels after the disaster caused by the Gulf War. Is there an incentive to recover this oil? Without a doubt! At today’s price each of those barrels is worth $75. I don’t know about you, but if I was living on this compromised coast and had the means, I would be out there sucking up all the oil that I had storage for and I would have the wife out scouring the countryside for more tankage. As an interesting anecdote along these lines, I relate a story about the oil field at West Columbia, Texas, discovered in 1918. Since, in those days, the “blowout preventer” was not used, each new well in this field gushed freely. Very quickly, the excess oil could not be contained and began to flow through the town in a ditch 20 feet wide and 6 feet deep towards the nearby Brazos River. The people of the town quickly mobilized, found tankage and began gathering the oil. My source says that not a drop of oil got into the Brazos. Of course, in those days, there was no oversight by the Federal Government to form a committee to “study” problem. The local populace saw the problem and solved it to the benefit of not only the environment, but also themselves. Finally, have you ever considered why all the beautiful islands and beaches in the Gulf are not still covered by the millions of gallons of oil released because of the Nazi’s torpedoing hundreds of oil tankers during WWII, where no one was under any compulsion to do any clean-up whatsoever?
Now, you are saying to yourself, “yeah … but how about the oil that doesn’t get skimmed or policed up by the scavengers?” The answer is, and you environmentalists take note, Mother Nature. Mother Natural has been cleaning up “oil spills” since time immemorial with her secret weapon … bacteria, aerobic bacteria. As long as the oil is on the surface, the top of the sea, on the beach or in the marshes impacted by the spill, where the bacteria can get oxygen, these little bugs will metabolize the it into CO2 and H2O and the environmental consequences will literally disappear. This phenomenon has happened to the Exxon, Ixtoc I, and the Persian Gulf spills and to every abandoned highway or personal driveway in existence. All you have to do to confirm this is to visit any site where oil has been spilled. Prince William sound is almost completely healed, the white beaches at Cancun in the Yucatan are a pristine destination for a vacation, the marshes at the mouth of the Tigris have recovered, the Nazi oil has disappeared from the Gulf and West Columbia, Texas, is a beautiful little south Texas town.
Is the Horizon oil spill a tragedy? You bet! But the “greatest environmental tragedy of all time?” No way! What would you call the environmental consequences of Mt. St. Helens exploding, covering parts of 3 States and a Province of Canada with up to several feet of volcanic ash and sharp glass shards. (Have you ever heard of Mt. Pinatubo, which is said to have cooled the Earth for 2 years after it exploded in the Philippines) Have you heard of Tambora, Krakatoa, Santorini or Vesuvius? Maybe you have forgotten the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean? Your grandfather can tell you about the “dust bowl” that killed hundreds and displaced millions of people in the 1930’s in the American heartland. Was that an environment tragedy? Do you suppose that any of these incidents killed any birds, fish or marine mammals? Or fouled marshes, lakes, rivers or beaches?
Maybe we should look for other answers. Maybe, just maybe, the current crisis on the Gulf coast is being demagogued for another reason: maybe, just maybe, is it being done to discredit business, businessmen, the private sector and to promote government intervention and enhance a socialist agenda?