Are the media downplaying the Gulf oil leak?

Jack R. writes:

I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?

The ho-hum coverage by the left-stream media unnerves me.

I think it is a contrarian indicator. Instead of the usual “We’re all gonna die!” treatment we normally get from them, the Big News attitude seem half-hearted, thinking of how not to harm Obama’s image.

This disaster could be a turning point in history, my gut tells me.

LA replies:

Here’s a three day old update from BP

They’re working on several things they will try again this week, nothing is assured. If nothing works, then this continues for weeks, months, far transcending Exxon Valdez. It may only be stopped when they drill a second well and that would take months.

Of course the media are downplaying this non-Katrina event for the non-Katrina president.

LA continues:

Now here’s an article in the NYT saying that the leak is far worse than had been believed.

And guess what? the L-dotters are saying that the story is a liberal plot.

So your view is that the liberals are covering up the truth that the leak is much worse than is generally believed; and the L-dotters’ view is that the liberals are spreading a false story that the leak is much worse than believed.

Jack R. replies:

I guess my main point is:

This open wound in the Gulf terrifies me, and I think the always wrong big media’s half-hearted coverage is very disturbing, not in a political sense, but in a sense that deep down, the elites don’t know their blanks from their elbows.

If the situation were trivial, the doomsaying would fill the universe.

Up to maybe 200,000 barrels a day of oil spewing into the Gulf, and all we get is very cautious coverage.

I think a catastrophe, a nation changer could be brewing, and the ivory tower’s lack of alarm confirms it.

- end of initial entry -

Roberrt B. from Minnesota writes:

The 1979 Gulf leak was far worse than this is—by a long shot:

LA replies:

Wikipedia says:

Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche in waters 50 m (160 ft) deep. On 3 June 1979, the well suffered a blowout and is recognized as the second largest oil spill and the largest accidental spill in history….

In the next nine months, experts and divers (including Red Adair) were brought in to contain and cap the oil well. Approximately an average of ten thousand to thirty thousand barrels per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped on 23 March 1980.[6] Prevailing currents carried the oil towards the Texas coastline. The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Eventually, in the US, 162 miles (261 km) of beaches and 1421 birds were affected by 3,000,000 barrels (480,000 m3) of oil. Mexico rejected US requests to be compensated for cleanup costs.

Now, how does the 3 million barrels spilt in the 1979-80 incident compare to the Exxon Valdez disaster? Wikpedia:

The ship gained notoriety after the March 24, 1989 oil spill in which the tanker, captained by Joseph Hazelwood and bound for Long Beach, California, hit Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef and spilled an estimated minimum 40,900 m³ (10.8 million US gallons) of crude oil in Alaska. This has been recorded as one of the largest spills in United States history and one of the largest ecological disasters. In 1999, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was listed as the 53rd largest spill in history.

So Exxon Valdez, the most famous oil spill in the popular conscousness, spilled 40,900 cubic meters of crude, less than one tenth of the Ixtoc I incident which spilled 480,000 cubic meters, and I’ve never heard of the latter incident. I don’t know what this means.

Now how much is being spilled in the BP disaster. According to the linked article in today’s NYT:

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.

So the estimates range from 5,000 barrels a day, to between 25,000 and 80,000 barrels a day, with 80,000 barrels equaling 3.4 million gallons. It gets difficult to relate these various reports together, what with three different units of measurement being used, gallons, square meters, and barrels. But Ixtoc 1 leaked a total 3 million barrels (though Wikipedia is ambigous on that point—that may be just the amount that affected the U.S. coast). According to the just quoted high estimate of the BP oil spill, it is spilling 80,000 barrels a day. The BP oil spill began April 20. At a rate of 80,000 barrels per day, by May 20 it will have spilled 2.4 million barrels, many times more than Exxon Valdez but less than the Ixtoc 1. If it continues for another month, which is entirely possible, it will have leaked 4.8 million barrels, far more than Ixtoc 1. If it continues for a total of six months, it will have spilled 14.4 million barrels, almost five times more than the Istoc 1, the previously largest accidental spill in history.

LA adds (11:30 p.m.)
Please note: the 80,000 barrels a day figure that I used above is the very highest estimate which has just been made recently by scientists who believe the official estimate is way too low. The estimate still officially used by the government and BP is 5,000 barrels a day. At that much lower rate of leakage, after one month the total spill will be 150,000 gallons, which, at 42 gallons per barrel of petroleum, equals 6.3 million gallons, compared to the 10.8 million gallons of Exxon Valdez, or 58.3 percent of Exxon Valdez.

Furthermore, there is very hopeful news tonight from AP:

HAMMOND, La. (May 16)—In a significant step toward containing a massive Gulf of Mexico oil leak, BP said a mile-long tube was funneling crude Sunday from a blown well to a tanker ship after three days of wrestling to get the stopgap measure into place on the seafloor.

BP says (in the AP’s words) that the tube is “containing most of the oil coming from the pipe, which is contributing an estimated 85 percent of the crude in the spill,” and that the amount being carried by the tube is gradually being increased. This means that the amount of spillage has just been reduced by about half. If the true rate of spillage (prior to the installation of this tube) was 5,000 gallons a day, and if this progress keeps up, the spillage will fall well short of that of the Exxon Valdez. The Exxon Valdez, as ruinous as it was for the people and industries it directly affected, was not a civilization changing event.

Paul K. writes:

While the oil leak in the Gulf is a great concern, I do not understand why it should reflect on the Obama administration. I didn’t think the Katrina aftermath reflected as badly on the Bush administration as the media claimed it did, but I understood that there was a different dynamic there. The aftermath of Katrina showed America how African-Americans behave when left to their own devices, and this revelation was so contrary to the liberal worldview that it was necessary to focus the dismay on a different target, President Bush. Bush was the scapegoat for the behavior of American blacks.

I have no reason to believe that President Obama would be able to do anything substantively different than Bush did in the event of another Katrina.

Jeff W. writes:

There are two other things that terrify me about the oil blowout in the Gulf:

One is the red color of the oil in this excellent amateur video.

The other is Revelation 8:8-9.

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Brandon M. writes:

Regarding the comment by Jeff W. on the Gulf oil leak and his quoting of Revelation 8:8-9, Revelation is symbolic, not literal.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 16, 2010 05:39 PM | Send

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