History will view Obama's response as too little, too late, too passive. New findings by a research vessel with a grant that ran out today show walls of oil-saturated death, miles long and wide, depleting oxygen from ocean water.On Friday, President Obama lashed out at oil companies for finger pointing and blame passing. The problem is, he's doing the same thing, one iteration higher.
Obama must commandeer BP's resources, pass immediate legislation ELIMINATING all limits on ALL corporate liability for damages, & fund at least a billion dollars of emergency research & science funding for assessing and analyzing all aspects of the gulf catastrophe-- marine, estuary, economic.
flickr image by NewsHour
This disaster has been going on for over three weeks. Obama had to know how bad it was, and if he didn't that would have been even worse. There's little doubt that he knew, though, and has known just how bad this was.
People have called this catastrophe Obama's Katrina. They're wrong. It's much worse than Katrina. It's worse, not only because of the damage we'll be seeing as the oil does it's damage to sea life, estuaries, breeding grounds, jobs, industries, families and entire ecosystems, but also because of the massive failure of leadership on Obama's part.
Obama had to respond to a disaster quickly. He didn't. He let the perpetrator of the crime try to fix it and also allowed the perpetrator to try to cover it up, to conceal the video evidence. Perhaps he did this because of the misguided idea that he was being sure that BP paid for the cleanup. But that was a mistake. He could have commandeered BP resources and directed to cleanup, rather than just watching.
Obama is not in charge. BP is. That should not be.
It appears that Obama is not in charge of the use of dispersants. The government authorized the use of them under water. They contain unknown chemicals, unknown because the manufacturers claim proprietary secrets. This is a national state of emergency and Obama should order them to release the ingredients, at least to government scientists. I don't think that's happened. We're dumping the largest amounts of dispersants ever used in one location. It's an experiment. It's another way that could kill the ocean, starting with the phytoplankton that form the base of the food chain. If they are killed, the rest of the food chain could very well be lost.
Walls of Death
Reportedly, there are over 500 vessels involved in the response to the Gulf eco-catastrophe. Yesterday, the NY Times reported that there are huge, 10 miles long, three miles wide, hundreds of yards thick "plumes" of oil soaked water. Think of them as walls of death. Scientists are seeing 30% decreases in oygenation near them. If the oil-eating micro-organisms continue to digest these plumes, the oxygen content in the water could drop low enough to produces huge dead zones, as I've written about earlier. This is the science and reality underlying the previously predicted dean zone scenario. A whale or dolphin might be able to swim through these death walls fast enough, but fish and the phytoplankton at the bottom of the food chain will die, asphyxiated or poisoned. It will take longer for these deaths to rise from the bottom up, until the fish commercial fisherman trawl for are hit, but they will be hit. The questions is, will they be wiped out? Will the marine ecology, even after the oil is gone, be the same, or will new ecologies develop as bottom up food supply and top down predator balances shift drastically.
Decisive action was key to dealing with the out of control, mile down sea florr gusher. It didn't happen.
Is the Obama Personality That Helped Win Elections Part of the Problem?
I have a theory that the part of Obama's personality that played a big role in winning the presidential election is what's keeping him from dealing effectively with the Gulf Catastrophe. He is a very calm, unruffled man. It's been said that a black president can't afford to be seen as an angry black man.
And it's not just anger. Obama may be too calm, so relaxed that his flight of fight nervous system doesn't kick into gear enough. doesn't give him the passion that gets the adrenalin flowing when it is appropriate and needed. .
The Gulf catastrophe is not someting to leave to committees or aides or departments. It's something that the president has to fully engage with. And timing is a big part of it.