Here's showered leg skin examined by geologist Rip Kirby. Under regular light, the skin seems clean, but ultraviolet light reveals orange blotches -- dispersant-mixed oil muck. /Tampa Bay Times/James Kirby photo
If you care about salt water only when gargling, or annual
beach parties, might as well skip this piece. Finicky readers will depart anyway,
repelled by environmental catastrophes, here the potential collapse of the
Gulf ecosystem. Right off, two years of research proves the causal catch-all
phrase, "BP oil spill," drastically underplays the enormity of effects: the
damage from double pollutants (oil + dispersant) carried by waves, deposited on
seascapes, then absorbed by an incredible variety of living masses.
Phrasing more consistent with real ends: "BP's toxic sludge inundation," or "BP's fatal frothy flood," even "BP's contagion of contaminated crude" -- crude and indiscriminate indeed when this glut of gunk continues its death march. Even bacteria called upon to consume oil slicks are nixed, slain by two million gallons of the solvent concoction Corexit. Keen observer of the Gulf tragedy, I'd be downright remiss to withhold scandalous news about oil stuck to human skin, eyeless shrimp, fish-scale infections, or rising mortality for marine mammals and previously endangered sea turtles. As famed ocean expert Sylvia Earle teaches, "You don't have to touch the ocean for the ocean to touch you."
If misguided greed makes for business stupidity, like BP "saving" pennies on cut-rate oil platforms only to fork over $60 billion for liabilities and penalties, then moral stupidity denies blatant, eye-popping lessons from this painful experience. My take: research now proves the infamous trickle-down theory -- laughable when applied to job growth or economics -- is working with a vengeance on the entire Gulf region, decimating industries, adding to unemployment, and bringing millions new, hard-to-treat diseases.
Drill, baby, drill, Obama-style
For this one-time food cornucopia, ecologically compromised long before 2010, trickle-down is no metaphor. Crude slicks plus dispersants banned by rational nations will for years trickle onto lagoons and beaches, wetlands and mangroves, infecting whatever they touch. Want irony? This trickle-down KILLS jobs and economic growth, often permanently, with this exception: "Gulf Oil Drilling To See Busiest Year Since 2010 BP Spill." See, our re-electable president's administration re-opened drilling, even for BP, pandering with its own take on "drill, baby, drill."
The political logic works, for three-six months. If local oil production rises, that MUST reduce "high" gas prices (a blatant fallacy), let alone face down our perennially wicked dependency on "foreign oil" (a bigger fallacy). There is no "American" oil, and once contained, world markets, not patriotism, determine where it's consumed. Another dose of BP drilling on a budget assures more disasters, promising to leave the nation's most important water treasure bereft, not unlike mined-out, third world wastelands. Nothing trumps under-regulated oil miners (and powerful cousins in chemical-plastics-fertilizer production) because their unified lobbyists outmuscle less affluent, disorganized shrimp, fishing, boating, dining, recreation and tourist interests.
It's a simple trade-off, and a dreary story wherein our national wealth (the kind that made America great) migrates from historic small businesses around waterways to huge energy/commodity conglomerates. The Gulf is poster child for venture capitalism run amok, especially now immunized from federal intervention. A region plagued with trickle-down pollution is what the few pay so everyone else has cheap oil products, orchestrated by the world's richest profit centers (Exxon, Chevron, Dow, and Dupont).