Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Why are oil spills suddenly occurring constantly, all over the world? Just this year, the environment has taken an unprecedented beating, from the oil industry alone.
There's now a leak of an oil pipeline in the Kalamazoo River, Michigan. So far, an estimated 840,000 gallons of oil has gushed into a creek that directly flows into the river.
Meanwhile, the Chinese oil spill has been contained before it reached international waters, the Chinese government assures us. (Then again, this is the same Chinese government that kills political dissidents, censors the internet, and initially lied about culpability in scandals over poisonous pet food, poisonous milk, contaminated pharamaceuticals, and toxic drywall.)
The Egyptian government similarly tried to keep the truth quiet about the Geisum oil leak in the Red Sea, and we're still in the dark about what's really been going on over there.
And in the North Sea last month, an oil leak occurred at the Maersk Resolute drilling platform near Denmark.
An American oil rig owned by Taylor Energy was discovered to be leaking when a research accidentally noticed it on satellite imagery while seeking images of the nearby BP leak.
And of course, the BP leak still continues unfixed to this day, with growing concerns about potentially catastrophic damage beneath the sea floor.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
While much of the world's attention remains fixed on the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, another oil spill is destroying sea life on the other side of the globe.
A Chinese oil pipeline has been spewing crude oil into China's Yellow Sea for five days now, as the Associated Press reports:
China's largest reported oil spill had more than doubled by Wednesday, closing beaches on the Yellow Sea and prompting an environmental official to warn the sticky black crude posed a "severe threat" to sea life and water quality.
Some workers trying to clean up the inky beaches wore little more than rubber gloves, complicating efforts, one official said. But 40 oil-control boats and hundreds of fishing boats were also deployed in the area.
"I've been to a few bays today and discovered they were almost entirely covered with dark oil," said Zhong Yu, a worker with the environmental group Greenpeace China, who spent Wednesday on a boat inspecting the spill.
"The oil is half-solid and half liquid and is as sticky as asphalt," she told The Associated Press.
The oil was spread over 165 square miles (430 square kilometers) of water five days since a pipeline at a busy northeastern port exploded.
The Chinese government-controlled media has stated that no more oil is leaking into the Yellow Sea, yet outside observers maintain that the oil slick is continuing to grow.
Monday, July 19, 2010
The mainstream media is finally starting to overtly acknowledge what we have been warning about for some time now - that the undersea oil seeps could be a dangerous indicator of massive damage to the ocean floor and its underground infrastructure. Says the Associated Press:
The federal government Monday allowed BP to keep the cap shut tight on its busted Gulf of Mexico oil well for another day despite a seep in the sea floor after the company promised to watch closely for signs of new leaks underground, settling for the moment a rift between BP and the government.
Late Sunday, [Thad] Allen said a seep had been detected a distance from the busted oil well and demanded in a sharply worded letter that BP step up monitoring of the ocean floor.
White House energy adviser Carol Browner told the CBS "Early Show" the seep was found less than two miles from the well site.
When asked about the seep and the monitoring, BP spokesman Mark Salt would only say that "we continue to work very closely with all government scientists on this."
"Clearly we want this to end. But we don't want to enter into a situation where we have uncontrolled leaks all over the Gulf floor," Browner told ABC.
Scientists still aren't sure whether the pressure readings mean a leak elsewhere in the well bore, possibly deep down in bedrock, which could make the seabed unstable. Oil would have to be released into the water to relieve pressure and allow crews to hook up the ships, BP and Allen have said.
On July 15, MSNBC aired a very candid interview with Matt Simmons (founder of the Ocean Energy Institute) in which he blew the whistle about a "massive hole" spewing oil and methane, miles from the original BP disaster site. "It's a big lie", declared Simmons regarding the official position that there is only one leak and that the cap is working. (Also referenced on MSNBC here.)
If there is substantial damage beneath the sea floor - and there is every indication of it - the implications for the environment are serious. When capping one leak, the extreme pressure of the oil and methane beneath the sea bed will obviously seek another path at whatever weakest point it can find. It's like when your roof leaks and you patch up the affected part of your ceiling with plaster - next time it rains, the water will simply go around it and pop up somewhere else nearby, wherever it can. BP's historically unprecedented deep drilling may have created an ecological problem that cannot easily be fixed.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
McClatchy is reporting on a sickening discovery that BP oil has likely entered our food chain:
Scientists with the University of Southern Mississippi and Tulane University in New Orleans have found droplets of oil in the larvae of blue crabs and fiddler crabs sampled from Louisiana to Pensacola, Fla.
"I think we will see this enter the food chain in a lot of ways — for plankton feeders, like menhaden, they are going to just actively take it in," said Harriet Perry, director of the Center for Fisheries Research and Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. "Fish are going to feed on (crab larvae). We have also just started seeing it on the fins of small, larval fish — their fins were encased in oil. That limits their mobility, so that makes them easy prey for other species. The oil's going to get into the food chain in a lot of ways."
Perry said researchers have not yet linked the hydrocarbons found in the crab larvae to the BP disaster, but she has little doubt it's the source. She said she has never seen such contamination in her 42 years of studying blue crab.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Admiral Thad Allen, who is appointed to oversee the BP disaster site for the Coast Guard and the Obama administration, has issued a bizarre directive of Orwellian proportions: it is now a felony to approach within 65 feet of the cleanup efforts, including booms. And scarier still, we're told that they originally wanted the keep-away zone to be 300 feet. This effectively destroys the media's ability to cover the scene and to talk to cleanup workers.
Allen's rationale for this? He claims: "I actually had some personal complaints from some county commissioners in Florida and some other local mayors that thought that there was a chance that somebody would get hurt." And yet, no one investigating this story has been able to locate these alleged commissioners and mayors who supposedly complained. As far as we know, such officials want more coverage and information about what's really going on, not less.
The cognitive dissonance of issuing this absurd and un-American violation of the First Amendment here on the Fourth of July weekend is just too ironic. Already, we're hearing talk from lifelong Democrats about opposing Obama in the next election, specifically over this issue. (We here at Meta-Oceanic are as apolitical as they come, but if Obama doesn't step forward and countermand this Government-imposed media blackout order fairly immediately, he's lost our confidence as well. The "transparency" that Obama and Allen have spoken of so often has turned out to be precisely the same sort of bullying tactics and coverup activity we've seen in previous administrations.)
Several prominent citizens and members of the media, including Louisiana politician Billy Nungesser, have already publicly stated their intent to flout this new law.
Click here to view CNN's Anderson Cooper expressing outrage about being prevented from properly covering this story. Another copy of the video is here.
From The Age:
The man appointed by US President Barack Obama to manage BP's oil spill disaster fund has warned that ''there's not enough money in the world'' to pay all claims, and suggested home owners with plunging property values could lose out.
The warning from prominent US lawyer Kenneth Feinberg came as hurricane Alex disrupted clean-up operations in the Gulf of Mexico and pushed oil deeper into fragile coastal wetlands and once-pristine beaches.
Mr Feinberg, asked by Mr Obama to administer the $US20 billion ($A23.5 billion) claims fund, insisted BP would ''pay every eligible claim'', but cautioned that many perceived damages may not qualify.
''I use that famous example of a restaurant in Boston that says, 'I can't get shrimp from Louisiana, and my menu suffers and my business is off,' '' Mr Feinberg told the House of Representatives committee on small business.
''Well, no law is going to recognise that claim.''
He said he was still sorting out how to deal with indirect claims such as hotels that lose bookings because tourists think beaches are covered in oil, or people whose property values decline but who live several blocks from an oil-affected beach.
''There's no question that the property value has diminished as a result of the spill. That doesn't mean that every property is entitled to compensation,'' he said. ''There's not enough money in the world to pay everybody who'd like to have money.''
A genetically altered salmon that will grow at twice the natural rate - 18 months rather than the usual three years - is on its way to your dinner table.
The FDA is close to approving the product, called AquAdvantage salmon, having already acknowledged that it meets at least five of their seven criteria. If this growth-hormone-laden "Frankenfish" passes, it will be the first GMO animal ever approved for eating.
The FDA are already arguing amongst themselves about whether or not to require that the fish be labeled as GMO. GMO plants currently have no such requirement - and if they did, almost everything would be labeled, because soy and corn are ubiquitious in American food products, and 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the United States is genetically altered.
According to the New York Times:
The salmon’s approval would help open a path for companies and academic scientists developing other genetically engineered animals, like cattle resistant to mad cow disease or pigs that could supply healthier bacon. Next in line behind the salmon for possible approval would probably be the “enviropig,” developed at a Canadian university, which has less phosphorus pollution in its manure.
Critics say the drug evaluation process does not allow full assessment of the possible environmental impacts of genetically altered animals and also blocks public input. “There is no opportunity for anyone from the outside to see the data or criticize it,” said Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. When consumer groups were invited to discuss biotechnology policy with top F.D.A. officials last month, Ms. Mellon said she warned the officials that approval of the salmon would generate “a firestorm of negative response.”
Thursday, July 1, 2010
From Science Daily:
The discovery in Gabon of more than 250 fossils in an excellent state of conservation has provided proof, for the first time, of the existence of multicellular organisms 2.1 billion years ago. This finding represents a major breakthrough: until now, the first complex life forms (made up of several cells) dated from around 600 million years ago.
Until now, it has been assumed that organized multicellular life appeared around 0.6 billion years ago and that before then the Earth was mainly populated by microbes (viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc.). This new discovery moves the cursor of the origin of multicellular life back by 1.5 billion years and reveals that cells had begun to cooperate with each other to form more complex and larger structures than single-celled organisms.