The oil spill is an alarming example of how Americans turn a blind eye to catastrophic environmental events. Conservatives’ flippant dismissal of environmental anxiety continues to prevail in most of the public opinion. This is evidenced by the startling lack of outcry with the (continuous) oil spill. It’s agonizing, but true: most people simply are not fully informed or agitated about the spill, the feeble government response, or the misrepresentations on the part of BP about exactly how much is spilling daily.
Today is the 35th day oil has flowed into the Gulf.
The fate of one of our most important, productive ecological centers is darkening, and the damage is increasing every day. Bob Herbert writes in The New York Times:
The vast, sprawling coastal marshes of Louisiana, where the Mississippi River drains into the gulf, are among the finest natural resources to be found anywhere in the world. And they are a positively crucial resource for America. Think shrimp estuaries and bird rookeries and oyster fishing grounds. These wetlands are one of the nation’s most abundant sources of seafood. And they are indispensable when it comes to the nation’s bird population. Most of the migratory ducks and geese in the United States spend time in the Louisiana wetlands as they travel to and from Latin America.
BP is a very large international corporation, now responsible for one of the US’s worst environmental disasters, and it is responding in an utterly irresponsible manner. It has not shed light on the real quantities of oil we’re dealing with. No one at BP claims to be informed enough to make an accurate assessment of the amount of oil, even though they’re the best equipped of anyone to judge this. Doing so is presumably much easier guesswork than they’d have us think, especially now that they’ve been recently siphoning (they claim 20 percent of) the oil leakage.
Sarabeth Guthberg, writing at 1115.org, relays an embarrassing quote about this siphoning, clearly showing BP’s deliberate misrepresentation:
BP had stuck by its first estimate that some 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day of oil was leaking from the well – despite claims from several experts the real figure was at least 10 times higher. But BP spokesman Mark Proegler told news agency AFP on Thursday: “Now that we are collecting 5,000 barrels a day, it might be a little more than that."
A little more? Fucking unbelievable.
Independent scientists offer startling estimates; Steven Werely, on NPR, said as much as 70,000 barrels could be leaking daily (vs. BP’s original 5000)—which is 2,940,000 gallons per day. What’s also upsetting is the debate over the issue in the Senate: Republicans, who recently opposed bailouts of any kind, are now defending BP’s right to not pay for the damages. The vaguely green public image of BP is completely shattered at this point. Its continual efforts to appear greener were dismissed, with a nomination for the 2008 Greenwash Awards for companies who fail to appear green.