Archive for the ‘Oil spill’ Category

>Oil and kudzu

June 22, 2010

>We (humans) can do little things that become big goofs. Some things look big, but are actually small, but still can be a big goof.

Two articles in today’s Birmingham News show us that this is true.



One article is about the oil spill. How big is the spill?, the headline asks. Let’s put it in context, the headline answers.

The Mississippi River pours as much water into the Gulf of Mexico in 38 seconds as the BP oil leak has done in two months.

For every gallon of oil that BP’s well has gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, there is more than 5 billion gallons of water already in it. That’s 1:5,000,000,000.

If all the oil that has spilled were poured into the Superdome, it would only fill it one seventh of the way up.

Kudzu Article

If you live in Alabama you know Kudzu. The sprawling vine covers 61,295 acres in our state, according to the U. S. Forest Service. The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service estimates estimates over 250,000 acres in our state are covered.

There are 52,419.02 square miles = 33,548,172.8 acres in Alabama. Using the U. S. Forest Service estimate, that’s 1:547 acres of our state are Kudzu covered.

(Depending on where one looks for information and whether just land is counted or all area, land and water, the number of square miles in Alabama varies, by the way.)

Kudzu first appeared in the U. S. in 1876, and was used as an ornamental. In the 1930’s is was decided it could be used to control another human goof up (soil erosion from improper agricultural practices in the Southeast) and so 85 million (85,000,000) kudzu seeds were shipped to southern landowners.

Now we learn that Kudzu may be responsible for some of the ground level ozone that affects our air quality and gives people like me fits on days when we are warned not to go outdoors in Jefferson County.

So, here’s my point. Republicans and other contrarians that deny global warming have said that we cannot affect the climate, that human action is too small compared to the expanse of the world and air that surrounds it. Republicans and other petro lovers have said that the Gulf oil spill is not that big a deal and are still screaming drill baby drill. Tony Hayward said the spill was “relatively tiny” compared to the “very big ocean.” Technically, as has been shown, he was right.

There are two kinds of people in the world (really there are many kinds, depending on what one is talking about), those who care about the environment and those who do not. Of the ones who care about the environment there are two kinds, those who understand that little things we do today, can have a huge impact tomorrow, and those whose concern about the environment goes no further than what they see at the moment and their perception of a more immediate future.

A little ornamental vine that was exhibited at an exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 has turned into a monster that affects our health as a result of human activity.

The relatively small amount of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico is going to forever change some of the most fragile and important lands in the coastal states, and affect many species in ways we cannot predict yet. The root of this problem is human, also. Human greed.

Republicans have called for less financial regulation, in the aftermath of a financial crisis that was caused in large part by lack of regulation.

Now they want to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, and are critical of the president’s halt of deep water drilling.

Here’s the deal. America has to wake up. Quit putting off the development of alternative energy sources while saying we have plenty of fossil fuel and time to slowly make the changes. And quit drilling in the Gulf…really forever, but at least until you can assure us that you know WTF you are doing!

Here’s an idea. Add a $4.00 per gallon gas tax and let the proceeds go toward alternative fuel research. We made a drastic and relatively quick change from horse and buggy to steam engine to gasoline powered vehicles and I’m sure the horse traders and horse feed producers didn’t like it one bit. The industrial revolution changed the way goods were produced and I’m sure that as the factories were beginning to manufacture what we needed (or wanted) the cottage industry folks were concerned about their way of life.

It’s no different now. A big change is going to come about. It’s just a matter of who will accept it and learn to change along with it, and who will be kicking and screaming because they can’t adjust.

PS. The new Share buttons that follow this are probably not working. Why not give it a try and let me know if anything happens? When I click, it does not give me opportunity to share. How about you?

>Ron Sparks showing leadership on the oil spill

June 18, 2010

>After Ron Sparks trounced Artur Davis I wrote a column outlining what the candidate needs to do to win the election in November. I made sure the campaign was aware of my suggestions.

One of my suggestions was about the oil spill:

He needs to develop a consistent and sound policy about the disaster on the
Gulf Coast. This will be a major focus of the next governor’s term, and Sparks
can tie his plan for saving the coast with his successful promotion of
international trade, particularly with Cuba, without “politicizing” the

Sparks listened. Or maybe he’s just already on top of things. As Agriculture Commissioner, he has an interest and a responsibility in dealing with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its effect on Alabama.

He wrote a letter to President Obama before the president’s latest visit to our state, outlining the devastation that is taking place on our coast and the ways Alabama workers and families are being affected. He also pointed out several of BP’s inadequacies in their response, and he listed several items that would enhance BP’s payments of claims. Finally he recommended the appointment of Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy and former governor of Mississippi, to head a task force in the region.

He got tough with the President:

Mr. President, with the economic livelihood and emotional well-being of
thousands of Alabamians already being affected – and with more devastation
to come — we have no choice but to demand that you take clear and concrete
action to address BP’s ineffectual and deficient response to the Deepwater
Horizon Oil Spill.

Then the President visited. And later gave his first Oval Office Speech.

Sparks responded to that as well:

I am heartened by President Obama’s remarks tonight, particularly the
appointment of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to head up an unprecedented
program for the recovery of the Gulf Coast states. Yesterday, I met with
President Obama and I handed him a letter requesting greater speed and
efficiency for paying claims to Gulf Coast residents and asking for the
appointment of Secretary of the Navy Mabus to oversee clean-up operations. I
want to thank President Obama for his leadership in coming down to the Gulf
Coast and listening to state and local officials and the people on the ground.
There’s no doubt in my mind that by the President coming down to the Gulf Coast
and seeing the hurt and the pain of the people here that I feel confident help
is on the way.

Sparks had already shown his concern and his resolve in dealing with the tragedy, having said this when the oil first began reaching Alabama shores:

“The catastrophe has begun. Photos of oil on Gulf Shores’ beaches
make me sick and I fear this is the beginning destruction of a way of life in
south Alabama. I pledge with every ounce of the fight in me, I will make
BP pay for all damage they do to our state. And they will not stop paying
until our state, our beaches, our wildlife and our seafood industry are made
whole again.”

We need a governor who is on top of things, who knows the industries (remember, Ron Sparks, as Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, has his name on every gas pump in our state), and who can work with the President and federal authorities and not against them in the recovery effort.

We need Ron Sparks as governor.

So, what’s going on at the beach?

Everyday, Bruce at the Beach posts a video from Orange Beach. Yesterday he posted this one about a sea turtle who laid her eggs and what was done so save them from the beach activity. Notice, though, that the sands are still sugar white and the water that inviting pale green color. Who’s up for a visit to the Gulf Coast?

>Spill, Baby, Spill

May 5, 2010

>Not much originality in the title, but its amazing to me that people still don’t get it even though the Gulf of Mexico is turning into a sludge pool.

Big oil funded politicians are still calling for more offshore drilling.

I’ve been reluctant to comment on the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill, mainly because anything I write might not be relevant within hours of publishing because of changing conditions and predictions and such.

But then I heard Texas Governor Rick Perry say,”From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented.”

It’s no surprise to learn that the GOP (Gas, Oil, Petroleum) worships big oil, but to claim that probable negligence of man was actually caused by God is a bit ridiculous.

God, or his team of writers, did say this, however, in Leviticus11: 9-12.

9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. 10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: 11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. 12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

So maybe God is being vengeful because of all the Red Lobsters and Captain D’s springing up across the country. God hates shrimp. Just like he hates the gays.

No, God doesn’t work that way. Not in the 21st century, anyway.

Then Dana Perino chimed in with “I don’t want to introduce a conspiracy theory,” followed by “but was this deliberate?…Was it sabotage?”

Are these people nuts?

Here is something I don’t understand, from

With extra time to respond, BP officials said they were continuing efforts to block or contain three gushing leaks 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf.”

That followed a couple of paragraphs that concluded that no landfall of oil was likely for another three days.

I don’t see how conditions on the beach have anything to do with BP’s urgency to stop the flow of oil in the middle of the Gulf. There is no “extra time.” No extra time!

The problems on the beach and the problems on the ocean floor are not connected in the sense that oil not washing up on the beaches has nothing to do with the 210,000 gallons per day still leaking.

And then there is this statement by BP’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles yesterday in Mobile, who said he hoped one of the leaks would be blocked by late Tuesday.

“I don’t believe that will change the total amount of oil being leaked, but it does mean we’ll go from three leak points to two, which is progress.”

Think about that. Yes, it’s progress, in that if they stopped one, they can stop the others. But, he expects that 210,000 gallons of oil a day will still be leaking, even after a leak is stopped.

When do you expect all the leaking to stop? That is the question we want answered.

Watch Celine Dion sing “A New Day.” We need a new day, that’s for sure.