18 June 2010

What A Real “Oilpocalypse” Looks Like

I talked to a buddy of mine last night, who is a personal injury attorney, about the 20 billion dollars the president got BP to agree to put in escrow. “Dude,” I said, “it’s as if the opposing counsel on one of your big cases called you up before the first motion was filed and said ‘here’s a few hundred grand to tide your client over until we figure out how much we’re going to be on the hook for.’”
My buddy actually rephrased my statement with the correct terminology, but he wholeheartedly agreed with my underlying sentiment. “Damn,” my buddy said. “That’s one hell of a settlement. Obama is really a personal injury lawyer.”

So we bantered back and forth for awhile about how ridiculous we thought the media mafia was for pretending this was any less than a stupendous accomplishment. Then my buddy said something that snapped me back to attack mode. “This kind of thing has never happened before.”

“Uh, actually this kind of thing has happened before. In fact, it's happening right now. In Nigeria.”


“Yeah, Nigeria, the place where the U.S. gets almost 40% of the oil it uses, has had oil spills this bad practically every year for decades. The shit is ugly.”

“You know, I didn’t know that.”

“I know – because the weak ass son-of-a-bitches who waste time every night on your TV, yakking it up about bullshit instead of bring you some facts have never thought it was important. Those people in Nigeria who have looked at oily assesd water for years think Americans are spoiled to death.”

“You should write about this.”

“I will, just so I can send your ass a link.”

Over a 20-year period spanning 1976 and 1996, an average of 300 cases of oil spills per year were recorded in Nigeria's oil region. On the average, some 370,000 barrels of crude spilled into the environment each year, out of which only about 40 percent was recovered.

"The environmental effect of spilled oil is a function of time, type of oil spilled, its degree of weathering, the sedimentary characteristics of the receiving environment and the season of the year," said Chindah at a recent workshop. The immediate impact on vegetation are wilting, defoliation and loss of the productive cycle or outright death of affected plants.

On freshwater swamps, the studies showed, the effects are more devastating due to the longer water retention time. Lower plant forms, such as algae and lichens die off immediately. Animals, fish and other water organisms dependent on such ecosystems also die off sooner or later. In turn the communities in the affected areas suffer loss of livelihoods, poor health and other adverse consequences.

Science In Africa

On 1 May this year a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in the state of Akwa Ibom spilled more than a million gallons into the delta over seven days before the leak was stopped. Local people demonstrated against the company but say they were attacked by security guards. Community leaders are now demanding $1bn in compensation for the illness and loss of livelihood they suffered. Few expect they will succeed. In the meantime, thick balls of tar are being washed up along the coast.

Within days of the Ibeno spill, thousands of barrels of oil were spilled when the nearby Shell Trans Niger pipeline was attacked by rebels. A few days after that, a large oil slick was found floating on Lake Adibawa in Bayelsa state and another in Ogoniland. "We are faced with incessant oil spills from rusty pipes, some of which are 40 years old," said Bonny Otavie, a Bayelsa MP.

This point was backed by Williams Mkpa, a community leader in Ibeno: "Oil companies do not value our life; they want us to all die. In the past two years, we have experienced 10 oil spills and fishermen can no longer sustain their families. It is not tolerable."

Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it

BP, Shell and other conglomerates and oil multinationals have engaged in these egregious disregard for human lives and pristine environments, in their hurry to make profits. And many nations such as Ecuador and Nigeria have dealt with this for decades and decades and were ignored by all, but now, because this current BP disaster and catastrophe occurred on American waters, BP and other oil companies are in trepidations and are gyrating speedily and rapidly, to avoid soiled sullied public image in America, and avoid a corporate black eye and bruises from the Gulf of Mexico disaster. But why? These same oil companies have for decades foisted pollution and deaths on the peoples of Nigeria, Ecuador and other nations without remorse or regret and remedial actions! So why now? Why the difference in attitudes and actions? It is good thing that this massive spill, this disaster and catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is actually a blessing and a wonderfully good thing in disguise, because, from now on, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will become a point of reference or benchmark for oil spills and remediation or remedial actions

It has to be assumed as well, that from now on, conversations about death and destruction caused by oil companies, are no longer seen as merely collateral damage in hydro carbons searches and as such, merely ancillaries and extraneous matters which should not bother Americans.

This is precisely what Niger Delta in Nigeria have experienced for fifty years and the world ignored it and considered it collateral damage, an ancillary and extraneous matter in the search for hydrocarbons to power the engines of the world’s economies. But now, the world knows, the chickens have come home to roost! American Oil Spills In Gulf of Mexico and Lessons for Nigerians and Ecuadorians.

American Oil Spill – Lessons for Nigeria; by Paul Adujie

Why are oil companies forever so willing to act voluntarily to compensate and act properly in response to disasters such as the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound in Alaska or in the North Sea or currently in the Gulf of Mexico, but these same oil conglomerates are unwilling to similarly act voluntarily or even under compulsion through court judgments or orders when in the persisting environmental catastrophes in Ecuador and Nigeria, even as you read this?

American Oil Spill – Lessons for Nigeria; by Paul Adujie

What explains these selective attitudes to victims of toxic pollutions caused by the same American and European oil giants? What explains permanence in always selectively choosing to compensate Americans and Europeans; but quite unwilling to compensate Ecuadorians and Nigerians, as the oil companies remain adamant in denying their liabilities?

American Oil Spill – Lessons for Nigeria; by Paul Adujie

Judith Kimerling, a professor of law and policy at the City University of New York and author of Amazon Crude, a book about oil development in Ecuador, said: "Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and very few people seem to care."

Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it

If this isn't the personal injury of all personal injuries, I don't know what is. THIS is why I can call the media monkeys who invade your TV every night chump change motherfuckers with impunity, because they deserve every skewering they get when we've got real life situations out here to compare and contrast corporate missions statements with their actual track record, and all they can do is carp about what idiot congressman A said about idiot congressman B in breathless wonder, or lionize one of their own brethren for squawking like a plucked chicken when they want the president to be their bitch and he refuses.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, brown skin continues to soak in oil that seems to never stop spilling.


15 June 2010

The Key Word In "Unforseen Catastrophe" Is "Unforseen"

We have the ability to control and plan for so many little things that I think it has lulled us into a false sense of security and omnipotence. We can fix any problem. We can overcome any obstacle.

But there are some things that are bigger than us. We're mostly a nation of juveniles, though, so we need someone to blame, some one to be responsible, when there is often no way that is humanly possible to prevent death, disease, or destruction of property.

The only way to save all the lives in New Orleans was to have had them begin evacuating ten days ago. But that's not going to happen the next time down there, or for that matter in any other major city in the country.

Georgia is on a fault line. There hasn't been a real big earthquake in a long, long time here. But scientists are calling for another one to hit sometime soon. A year or so ago, we had a small tremor, which for people who live in earthquake land, usually signals that more are coming.

Have we dug up our natural gas pipelines and replaced them with flexible pipes? Have we buried all of our powerlines to prevent falling trees from interrupting power? Are our homes built to earthquake proof standards? What about our tall buildings? Have we stockpiled food and water as individuals?


Are we stupid for not planning ahead for this?

How much can you spend to prevent a catastrophe before the expenditure itself becomes a financial disaster?

You could build the entire city on an elevated platform that raises it twenty feet above sealevel, in hurricane proof buildings with leakproof roofs and redundant emergency power systems today...

...if money was no object, time was not a factor, and there was no intrinsic sense of historical value to consider.

South Carolina was hit by Hurricane Hugo years ago. Wiped out a bunch of homes that were poorly built. Obliterated a legion of mobile homes from the coast up to the Lowcountry.

The trees are still gone in many areas, but the building codes haven't changed, and the mobile home dealers sell more units than ever.

When freedom of choice intersects with an overabundance of caution, the urge to remain unfettered usually wins out here in the US.

I would actually go so far as to posit that if you could guarantee someone a healthful, disease free, disaster free life, with a "do not return to maker until 75 years of age" stamp on their ass if they would confine themselves to the grounds of...let's say the buildings and grounds of the Pentagon, which is a pretty big place, for their entire lives, to work and live under a sort of military junta...I bet they would choose to take the risk of not making it, of not being healthful, of not being disease free, in order to do what they wanted to do.

Its in our blood. We'll do it our way if it kills us. And it frequently does.

I wrote the paragraphs above five years ago after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, back when the only people who read what I wrote were in my online writing group. We argued a lot about what should have happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina back then the same way the nation's media is arguing over what should be happening during the BP oil spill every night on my TV.

I would imagine that I could repost the same piece five years from now, when the next unforseen catastrophe hits, and it would be just as relevant.

We are a nation of forensic experts, with an ability to assign blame and liability in small increments to a multitude of parties in multiple jurisdictions, but the past cannot be changed. What is is.

When I am in the middle of a self-made mess, I do not spend very much time worrying about how it happened - I spend 99% of my time trying to figure out what I am going to do going forward.

Our media wastrels, by contrast, are spending 99% of their time looking for someone to blame, even though the probability for any of the solutions proffered thus far have all come with caveats like "this is a highly risking maneuver" or "we've never done this before under these conditions."

Maybe we need to send our Know Everything, Do Nothing media stars to the Gulf and stick their asses in some clean-up suits for twelve hours a day for the next six months. Or put them in an operations center with a phone and a clipboard and put them to work coordinating response efforts until the last marsh has been flushed out with water from the Mississippi.

I have howled like a dog on this blog and the other venues where I write for the past few weeks about the things that were not being done, so it has been a pleasant surprise to see many of the things I suggested - an escrow account for damages and a measuring device at the leak to more accurately detect what flow rate is, among other things I've been adamant about - so I have to believe that they are listening to some of us here in the blogosphere.

I am glad the White House is trying to bypass the media as much as possible. The Fourth Estate squandered what little credibility it had long ago, and now have been reduced to playing cheerleader for their favorite causes.


11 June 2010

Today At The Grio: Is surprise SC senate candidate a 'plant' or just peculiar?

Today's topic at TheGrio.com:

Is surprise SC senate candidate a 'plant' or just peculiar?

"I got sixty percent of the vote is not luck. Sixty percent of the vote is not an accident."

-Alvin Greene, S.C. Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate

Eddie Murphy was in a movie years ago called The Distinguished Gentleman, where Murphy played a con man named Thomas Jefferson Johnson who won a seat in Congress because of the similarity between his name and that of a recently deceased congressman. The similarities between con men and politicians that the film showcased made for great comedy on the big screen.

Now we have real life imitating art in South Carolina, where an unknown, unemployed, 32-year-old ex-military man with pending felony charges who lives with his parents in his hometown garnered over 100,000 votes in the South Carolina Democratic primary to become the party's presumptive nominee for the U.S. Senate. Alvin Greene defeated opponent Vic Rawl, a former circuit court judge and four term state representative, which means, at least for now, that Greene will face current senator Jim DeMint in the fall. with no campaign staff, no campaign contributions, no campaign website, no campaign literature, and no communication with his state party organization.

How did Mr. Greene get elected by a margin of almost 20 percent with an invisible campaign?


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