By JE Sved on May 28, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC (Herald de Paris) – A spin around the airwaves, the – umm – cablewaves, and the news media headlines this morning revealed a most disturbing trend in the news media’s coverage of the BP oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico:¬† This fiasco is being seriously downplayed.
A particular hero of mine, the late William Safire of the New York Times, made it his purpose to pick apart the use, and appropriately the misuse, of words.¬† This situation in the Gulf of Mexico needs a William Safire, for everyone from NBC News to CNN to Safire’s own New York Times keeps referring to the ecological disaster unfolding after the fire and destruction of the Deepwater Horizon Platform as, “The Gulf Spill.”
It’s not a spill.
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines the word SPILL as:
‚ÄĘ verb (past and past part. spilt or spilled) 1 flow or cause to flow over the edge of a container.
This definition implies two things.¬† First, for something to flow over the edge of a container implies gravity to propel – in this case – a liquid from its place of residence.¬† But more importantly appears the use of the term container.¬† By introducing the word container implies a vessel whose purpose is to restrain the liquid within.
Ironically, the Exxon Valdez was such a vessel both literally and figuratively.¬† It contained crude oil within its hull during transport.¬† The Exxon Valdes spilled its contents along the coast of Alaska.¬† This is a true sentence.
British Petroleum and its Deepwater Horizon rig did not spill crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, they did something far worse.¬† What they did was to perforate the earth’s crust by artificial means, and not secure the perforation properly in an effort to safeguard both human life and the world’s oceans simply to save money and increase profit margins.
When the Deepwater Horizon caught fire and sank, the company’s purposeful disregard to invest in proper fail safe measures caused a rupture of the once-controlled and artificial perforation.¬† A rupture is not a spill, it is far more severe.
A fair comparison, ironically, might be your local gas station.¬† While filling a vessel, in this case your car’s gas tank, with fuels derived from crude oil, it is entirely likely that you could over-fill the vessel and spill some down the fender of your car and onto the pavement.¬† This is not the same thing as if the huge underground tank below the gas station were punctured or perforated by artificial means (like a backhoe), allowing the gasoline in the underground reserve to seep, over a sustained period, into the surrounding soil, and ultimately into the local groundwater supply where it could affect the local food chain, cause illness, and possibly even the loss of human life.
Therefore, to call the BP Gulf of Mexico oil rig fiasco simply a spill is seriously downplaying the severity of what has been happening.
ON DAVEY JONES’ LOCKER
So where will all this crude oil end up?¬† I think I know.¬† To be certain, the oil will not all land on the marshy shorelines and the beaches of the United States.¬† Much of it will be carried by the oceanic currents around the globe, and what doesn’t affix itself to a solid mass such as a beach, a boat, or sea life will end up where everything ends up in our oceans, the Great Pacific Garbage Vortex or the newly discovered North Atlantic Garbage Vortex.
While it may seem somehow poetic for all that plastic garbage floating in our oceans to be reunited with the crude oil it was made from, this isn’t a good thing, at all.
We already know that sea birds, fish, and sea mammals are consuming plastic pellets in our oceans thinking they are plankton.¬† Ultimately, the undigested pellets kill all these creatures.¬† Now consider that these same ocean dwellers will still be consuming plastic pellets only now they will be coated with an oily toxic slime.
What BP may have done by being too cheap to use common sense in the use of fail safe measures while drilling at the bottom of our seas was to ruin the seafood industry, because as much as I love a good piece of fish I won’t eat that stuff, anymore.¬† Let’s see how long it takes for British Petroleum to have affected a stock market swing¬† away from commercial fishing, and into fish farming and beef cattle.
ON MOTHER NATURE
At some point, you can almost count on someone from the BP payroll to make a statement that these sorts of ruptures have probably happened in our oceans for millions of years, mostly due to seismic activity.¬† They will claim that the oceans have and will again recover.
What they won’t tell you is that the system is broken.¬† We broke it.¬† We’ve filled the oceans with garbage, fished innumerable fish species to extinction, and changed the atmospheric environment in ways that, in-turn, affect the ocean further.¬† Since 1960 alone, we have double the number of carbon dioxide-exhaling humans on the planet, while cutting in half the number of carbon dioxide breathing trees.
Can mother nature recover while being strangled and gasping for air?¬† Nobody knows.