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George Washington: 2 Years After the BP Oil Spill, Is the Gulf Ecosystem Collapsing?

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By Washington’s Blog

The Gulf Ecosystem Is Being Decimated

The BP oil spill started on April 20, 2010. We’ve previously warned that the BP oil spill could severely damage the Gulf ecosystem.

Since then, there are numerous signs that the worst-case scenario may be playing out:

  • A recent report also notes that there are flesh-eating bacteria in tar balls of BP oil washing up on Gulf beaches

If you still don’t have a sense of the devastation to the Gulf, American reporter Dahr Jamail lays it out pretty clearly:

“The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. “And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp – and interviewees’ fingers point towards BP’s oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

Eyeless shrimp

Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.

“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.

According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: “Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets.”
Eyeless shrimp, from a catch of 400 pounds of eyeless shrimp, said to be caught September 22, 2011, in Barataria Bay, Louisiana [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]

“Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico],” she added, “They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don’t have their usual spikes … they look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.”

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, and began the release of at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. BP then used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to sink the oil.

Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing.

“I’ve seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out,” Ladner told Al Jazeera. “The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday.”

While on a shrimp boat in Mobile Bay with Sidney Schwartz, the fourth-generation fisherman said that he had seen shrimp with defects on their gills, and “their shells missing around their gills and head”.

“We’ve fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this,” he added.

Ladner has also seen crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one of their claws.

Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs “with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they’ve been dead for a week”.

Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.

“We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills.”

Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was “ten per cent what it normally is”.

“I’ve never seen this,” he said, a statement Al Jazeera heard from every scientist, fisherman, and seafood processor we spoke with about the seafood deformities.

Given that the Gulf of Mexico provides more than 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, this phenomenon does not bode well for the region, or the country.

***

“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber,” Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. “It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known”.

The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP’s disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.

Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic – able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus – and carcinogenic.

Cowan believes chemicals named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP’s submerged oil, are likely to blame for what he is finding, due to the fact that the fish with lesions he is finding are from “a wide spatial distribution that is spatially coordinated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon, both surface oil and subsurface oil. A lot of the oil that impacted Louisiana was also in subsurface plumes, and we think there is a lot of it remaining on the seafloor”.

Marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia published results of her submarine dives around the source area of BP’s oil disaster in the Nature Geoscience journal.

Her evidence showed massive swathes of oil covering the seafloor, including photos of oil-covered bottom dwelling sea creatures.

While showing slides at an American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington, Joye said: “This is Macondo oil on the bottom. These are dead organisms because of oil being deposited on their heads.”

Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, has conducted tests on seafood and sediment samples along the Gulf for chemicals present in BP’s crude oil and toxic dispersants.

“Tests have shown significant levels of oil pollution in oysters and crabs along the Louisiana coastline,” Subra told Al Jazeera. “We have also found high levels of hydrocarbons in the soil and vegetation.”

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, PAHs “are a group of semi-volatile organic compounds that are present in crude oil that has spent time in the ocean and eventually reaches shore, and can be formed when oil is burned”.

“The fish are being exposed to PAHs, and I was able to find several references that list the same symptoms in fish after the Exxon Valdez spill, as well as other lab experiments,” explained Cowan. “There was also a paper published by some LSU scientists that PAH exposure has effects on the genome.”

The University of South Florida released the results of a survey whose findings corresponded with Cowan’s: a two to five per cent infection rate in the same oil impact areas, and not just with red snapper, but with more than 20 species of fish with lesions. In many locations, 20 per cent of the fish had lesions, and later sampling expeditions found areas where, alarmingly, 50 per cent of the fish had them.

“I asked a NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] sampler what percentage of fish they find with sores prior to 2010, and it’s one tenth of one percent,” Cowan said. “Which is what we found prior to 2010 as well. But nothing like we’ve seen with these secondary infections and at this high of rate since the spill.”

“What we think is that it’s attributable to chronic exposure to PAHs released in the process of weathering of oil on the seafloor,” Cowan said. “There’s no other thing we can use to explain this phenomenon. We’ve never seen anything like this before.”

***

Crustacean biologist Darryl Felder, in the Department of Biology with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is in a unique position.

Felder has been monitoring the vicinity of BP’s blowout Macondo well both before and after the oil disaster began, because, as he told Al Jazeera, “the National Science Foundation was interested in these areas that are vulnerable due to all the drilling”.

“So we have before and after samples to compare to,” he added. “We have found seafood with lesions, missing appendages, and other abnormalities.”

Felder also has samples of inshore crabs with lesions. “Right here in Grand Isle we see lesions that are eroding down through their shell. We just got these samples last Thursday and are studying them now, because we have no idea what else to link this to as far as a natural event.”

According to Felder, there is an even higher incidence of shell disease with crabs in deeper waters.

“My fear is that these prior incidents of lesions might be traceable to microbes, and my questions are, did we alter microbial populations in the vicinity of the well by introducing this massive amount of petroleum and in so doing cause microbes to attack things other than oil?”

One hypothesis he has is that the waxy coatings around crab shells are being impaired by anthropogenic chemicals or microbes resulting from such chemicals.

“You create a site where a lesion can occur, and microbes attack. We see them with big black lesions, around where their appendages fall off, and all that is left is a big black ring.”

Felder added that his team is continuing to document the incidents: “And from what we can tell, there is a far higher incidence we’re finding after the spill.”

“We are also seeing much lower diversity of crustaceans,” he said. “We don’t have the same number of species as we did before [the spill].”

***

Felder is also finding “odd staining” of animals that burrow into the mud that cause stain rings, and said: “It is consistently mineral deposits, possibly from microbial populations in [overly] high concentrations.”

***

Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011.

Whitehead’s work is of critical importance, as it shows a direct link between BP’s oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf’s food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.

“What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil,” Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.

According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator species because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.

“That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish,” he explained. “So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can’t think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish.”

But we may well be witnessing the beginnings of this worst-case scenario.

Whitehead is predicting that there could be reproductive impacts on the fish, and since the killifish is a “keystone” species in the food web of the marsh, “Impacts on those species are more than likely going to propagate out and effect other species. What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect. And a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences.”

***

Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer, as well as a marine and oyster biologist, has “great concern” about the hundreds of dolphin deaths he has seen in the region since BP’s disaster began, which he feels are likely directly related to the BP oil disaster.

“Adult dolphins’ systems are picking up whatever is in the system out there, and we know the oil is out there and working its way up the food chain through the food web – and dolphins are at the top of that food chain.”

Cake explained: “The chemicals then move into their lipids, fat, and then when they are pregnant, their young rely on this fat, and so it’s no wonder dolphins are having developmental issues and still births.”

Cake, who lives in Mississippi, added: “It has been more than 33 years since the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil disaster in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche, and the oysters, clams, and mangrove forests have still not recovered in their oiled habitats in seaside estuaries of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has been 23 years since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, and the herring fishery that failed in the wake of that disaster has still not returned.”

Cake believes we are still in the short-term impact stage of BP’s oil disaster.

“I will not be alive to see the Gulf of Mexico recover,” said Cake, who is 72 years old. “Without funding and serious commitment, these things will not come back to pre-April 2010 levels for decades.”

***

“We’re continuing to pull up oil in our nets,” Rooks said. “Think about losing everything that makes you happy, because that is exactly what happens when someone spills oil and sprays dispersants on it. People who live here know better than to swim in or eat what comes out of our waters.”

Khuns and her husband told Al Jazeera that fishermen continue to regularly find tar balls in their crab traps, and hundreds of pounds of tar balls continue to be found on beaches across the region on a daily basis.

Meanwhile Cowan continues his work, and remains concerned about what he is finding.

“We’ve also seen a decrease in biodiversity in fisheries in certain areas. We believe we are now seeing another outbreak of incidence increasing, and this makes sense, since waters are starting to warm again, so bacterial infections are really starting to take off again. We think this is a problem that will persist for as long as the oil is stored on the seafloor.”

Did the BP Spill Ever Really Stop?

We’ve repeatedly documented that BP’s gulf Mocando well is still leaking.

Stuart Smith – a successful trial lawyer who won a billion dollar verdict against Exxon Mobil – noted recently:

New sampling data from the nonprofit Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) provide confirmation that not only is BP’s oil still very much present in the water in Bayou La Batre, but that it still exists in a highly toxic state nearly two years after the spill.

Here are photos of brown oily foam washing ashore in Bayou La Batre (just west of Mobile Bay) on February 27, 2012:

BLB2 28 12C 300x225 2 Years After the BP Oil Spill, Is the Gulf Ecosystem Collapsing?BLB2 28 12A 300x168 2 Years After the BP Oil Spill, Is the Gulf Ecosystem Collapsing?BLB2 27 12F 300x225 2 Years After the BP Oil Spill, Is the Gulf Ecosystem Collapsing?BLB2 27 12D 300x225 2 Years After the BP Oil Spill, Is the Gulf Ecosystem Collapsing?
Photo credit to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN)

Water samples were taken by Dennis and Lori Bosarge, LEAN members from Coden, Alabama. The lab-certified test results are in (see full lab report at bottom), and they are startling in that they suggest that oil is still leaking from the Macondo reservoir – most likely from cracks and fissures in the seafloor around the plugged wellhead. Scientists believe the cracks were caused by BP’s heavy-handed “kill” efforts.

***

Despite numerous opportunities to do so, the U.S. Coast Guard has never publicly denied that the Macondo field is still leaking. And these latest sampling results out of Bayou La Batre provide damning new evidence that the BP oil spill never really ended.

Government Sits On Its Hands …
The New York Times notes today:

Congress’s response to the spill has been truly pathetic. It has not passed a single bill to prevent another catastrophe, according to a report issued Tuesday by former members of a presidential commission that investigated the spill. Congress has failed even to codify the Interior Department’s sound regulatory reforms, which could be undone by a future administration.

***

The administration has developed new standards for each stage of the drilling process — from rig design to spill response — insisting that operators fully prepare for worst-case scenarios. But the commissioners’ report notes that the new equipment systems have not yet been tested in deep-water conditions.

Indeed, Mother Jones points out that the White House pressured scientists to underestimate BP spill size. And see this Forbes write up, and our previous reporting on the topic.

This is exactly like Fukushima and the financial mess, because  government’s approach to crises is consistent, no matter what area we are talking about: let the giant companies which fund political campaigns do whatever they want … and then help them cover up the extent of the crisis once it inevitably hits.

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55 comments

  1. China Miéville

    Yikes. Eyeless Scrimp? Crabs that die from the inside out?

    I guess I can’t think of everything when I write a novel.

    But I try. Here’s The Scar. Set on the same world as Perdido Street Station. Readers can guess if it may be future earth. I’m not telling. Here the readers learn that the Scar is the location of where the n-dimensional spacecraft crashed. This is the source of the thaumaturgical powers flowing into the planet eco-sphere – wreaking havoc on old laws of phisik and kemistry.

    But this work is about the planets oceans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scar

    1. Michael Sankowski

      That’s among my fav books of all time.

      I can’t tell if Uther is an alien, or if doul manipulated everyone to go to the scar, but I find the twists of the book as beguiling as the refraction rainbow off an oil slick.

      I wish China would write more in that universe, even though I can imagine the pull to expand as an artist into other directions. I keep wishing Banks would write non-stop Culture novels as well.

  2. Jack M.Hoff

    I’m not from the gulf area so can’t really say I know much about whats actually happening. But I do see commercials and infonews regularly that proclaim the gulf has had its busiest and best tourist season ever. I do suspect that’s a load of bullshit. Just like most of what the MSM feeds the pubic daily. Its a scandal a day in the USA….

    1. just me

      I believe it’s called “the aftermyth”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LhLIuj2l90#t=1m45s

      Obama Gulf press conference, 6/14/10: “Dealing with the aftermyth– uh, aftermath of this spill also means protecting the health and safety of those who live and work here…”

      (that was just after the part where he said “we’re going to continue to hold BP and other responsible parties accountable”)

      1. just me

        Same day, Obama says seafood safe to eat, and he’s confident Gulf will be better than before:

        Obama: Gulf seafood is safe to eat
        updated 5:36 p.m. PT, Mon., June 14, 2010

        THEODORE, Ala. – In a newly optimistic tone, President Barack Obama promised Monday that “things are going to return to normal” along the stricken Gulf Coast and the region’s fouled waters will be in even better shape than before the catastrophic BP oil spill.

        He declared Gulf seafood safe to eat …

        He declared, “I am confident that we’re going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before.”

    2. American Patriot

      It’s not the oil that’s causing the problem. That’s natural and has been seeping since the beginning of time. The problem is the toxic chemicals sprayed.

  3. Del

    This country needs to set up an environmental crimes triburnal. Make them pay.

    “Fisherperson”?

    Please don’t pollute a great article with PCBS like
    that. If the author is lame enough to use such language, then maybe much of what they say is suspect as well.

    You want to be taken seriously. Stick with standard English adn forget the semantic social engineering.

    1. China Miéville

      Sometimes the oddly placed use of politically correct language is a sign of sarcasm on the author’s part.

      For instance, when my friends and I attended Tony Blair’s Wimbledon matches, we referred to those around the sidelines retrieving the tennis balls as “ballpersons”.

    2. Commiemaniac

      It’s not social engineering- more a reflection of changing reality. There are growing and substantial numbers of women active on all levels of the fishing industry these days. Why should these women be referred to as “fishermen”?

    3. Jef the Red

      No, this country needs a revolution. Any effort at regulating the industry or establishing accountability will be run by the very people who create the catastrophes, the capitalists hand in hand with the politicians who, essentially, are the very same people. We can’t vote ourselves out of this mess. We need to organize and stop it.

    4. Concerned Citizen

      Usually, people who complain about ‘political correctness’ are ones trying to shut down valid debate about power. When someone is called out on their participation in oppression, they use the term ‘PC’ to pretend they are the victim.

      1. China Miéville

        hmm. Perhaps my witty jab at our labor party leader tony blair was too subtle, or too english, and was lost on some of the NC readership.

        To be truthful, I thought I would be received by NC readers with love, kisses and admiration.

        But instead, maybe I should introduce myself and post my wiki bio.

        China Tom Miéville ( /ˈtʃaɪnə miˈeɪvəl/; born 6 September 1972 in Norwich, England) is an award-winning English fantasy fiction writer and academic. He is fond of describing his fiction as “weird fiction” (after early twentieth century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist Workers Party. He has stood for the Regent’s Park and Kensington North for the Socialist Alliance in the 2001 General election, and published his PhD thesis as a book on Marxism and international law. He teaches creative writing at Warwick University.

        Miéville studied for a BA degree in social anthropology at Clare College, Cambridge, graduating in 1994, and achieved both a Masters’ degree and PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics in 2001. Miéville has also held a Frank Knox fellowship at Harvard University.[1] A book version of his PhD thesis, titled Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, was published in the United Kingdom in 2005 by Brill in their “Historical Materialism” series, and in the United States in 2006 by Haymarket Books.

        Miéville’s left-wing politics are evident in his writing (particularly in Iron Council, his third Bas-Lag novel) as well as his theoretical ideas about literature; several panel discussions at conventions about the relationship of politics and writing which set him against right-wingers ended up in heated arguments. He has, however, stated that:

        I’m not a leftist trying to smuggle in my evil message by the nefarious means of fantasy novels. I’m a science fiction and fantasy geek. I love this stuff. And when I write my novels, I’m not writing them to make political points. I’m writing them because I passionately love monsters and the weird and horror stories and strange situations and surrealism, and what I want to do is communicate that. But, because I come at this with a political perspective, the world that I’m creating is embedded with many of the concerns that I have… I’m trying to say I’ve invented this world that I think is really cool and I have these really big stories to tell in it and one of the ways that I find to make that interesting is to think about it politically. If you want to do that too, that’s fantastic. But if not, isn’t this a cool monster?[6]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Mi%C3%A9ville

        1. tut tut

          This Guthy-Renker sales pitch is kind of tasteless. Perhaps you could just say what you think without hawking your books or giving us irrelevant bio.

        2. Stella

          Surely you realize that anyone who’s actually read much Miéville is going to find your impersonation extremely unconvincing?

        3. Ray Duray

          China,

          Call me a naif. But not for one second did I doubt that it was really you, a 40-ish Marxist novelist from the UK attempting to communicate with the colonials. They seem a dreadful lot of scarping skeptics. Doubting your very name, expecting they’re smart to know that no one uses their real name name to communicate on America’s provincial Internet. Susan Webber doesn’t. She uses Yves Smith. Michael Rivero doesn’t. He uses George Washington’s Blog as a moniker.

          So, welcome to America. Now get lost. Er, what I mean to say is that you have utter credibility with me. Heck, I even looked you up at Pirate Bay to see if I might like to read you novels.

          Then I realized I’m vastly more interested in your PhD dissertation. Is that posted on the web anywhere?

          Or how about that novella, “Reports of Certain Events in London”. Now that does sound interesting.

          Thanks in advance for any reply, Red Ray (real name, sorta)

          1. China Miéville

            Greeting from across the pond, Ray…red or otherwise.

            It’s true I did my PhD thesis in International Relations.

            I can save you a lot of reading by giving you one paragraph which is sort of my resignation letter to the profession.

            ___________________________________________________

            “Miéville argues that the form taken by the law, a process of deciding disputes between abstract, formally equal subjects, can only be explained as essentially related to capitalism’s system of generalized commodity exchange, which requires participants with equal rights to property. However, he argues, just as the symmetry of commodity exchange conceals class division and exploitation, the symmetry of law conceals violent power relations. Law is structurally indeterminate as applied to particular cases, and so the interpretation which becomes official is always a matter of force; the stronger of the contesting parties in each legal dispute will ultimately obtain the sanction of law. Therefore, he states: “The attempt to replace war and inequality with law is not merely utopian but is precisely self-defeating. A world structured around international law cannot but be one of imperialist violence. The chaotic and bloody world around us is the rule of law.”[18]”
            —————————————————-

            Not much more to do there, wouldn’t you say?

            Now I teach creative writing at Warwick University. And of course I write novels…to entertain and perhaps to also make people think.

            Try your public library to pick them up for free – I think I’m stocked most places.

            BTW: Wiki was a bit harsh on my Tolkien position. I think everyone should do Tolkien once – to get caught up on a few thousand years of human mythology – then move on.

          2. Nathanael

            I would dispute your characterization of the rule of law in a very subtle way, Mr. Mieville.

            The function of a legal system is quite explicitly to abstract the power struggles by one level; to change the fight from “who gets the land” (inevitably fought with blood and guns) to “what rules shall determine who gets the land” (which doesn’t necessarily involve so much bloodshed).

            With a broken, disrespected, or nonexistent legal system (such as we have in much of the US), each individual issue is decided by who has more power, which leads to significantly more violence on a daily basis. With a legal system functioning as it is supposed to be, only the broad contours are decided by who has more power; the powerful are in “shackles of their own making” and must play by the rules they created. This gives the less powerful the chance to “work within the system” to get ahead and reduces the violence in the society.

            As such, a legal system is indeed a powerful protector of the elites, but it improves quality of life for everyone else too. The elites would be wise to institute a legal system, and folks like Emperor Augustus understood this. For more on the role of a functioning legal system — and the fact that it is always ultimately subject to raw power — see _The Theory of Social Revolutions_ by Brooks Adams.

            Removal of the legal system in favor of a corrupt system of “men not laws” — something which can be done by the elites, if they choose to — makes things substantially worse for everyone in the long run, including the elites, though the elites get short-term benefits from it.

          3. China Miéville

            Nathanael

            Let me clarify. I was observing how I think international law works. I did do my thesis when we had lots of fresh Cold War history. We still have spies, puppet dictators and coups. You Americans seem quite fond of your drones. (keep those away from England, please)

            I certainly don’t think true anarchy is a natural equilibrium point within borders. It’s much to tempting for some to co opt the wealth, then make themselves safe with laws and enforcement.

          4. Ray Duray

            Dear China,

            Thanks for providing that brief review of your dissertation. I do appreciate the time savings afforded. :)

            Re: “Not much more to do there, wouldn’t you say?”

            Agreed.

            By the way, I was of course joking about Pirate Bay. Your work is very well appreciated in this hinterland in Central Oregon: http://tinyurl.com/8774kok

            And thanks again for taking the time to introduce yourself to me and the denizens here at Naked Capitalism.

            Onward, Ray

        4. Stella

          Oh, and it’s Labour, of course, not Labor. You’ll need to be more careful with the Britishisms.

      2. tut

        Your perspective would be very handy here, among the disembodied voices. Only consider that it might be time for a deft segue to, “Well, enough about me, what did you think of my book?”

    5. TS

      Really Del? You wrote one sentence about the real issue (and it offered little) and then went on about political correctness and “you want to be taken seriously”?

  4. C

    Yet more proof that the people who said “it was plugged and we are safe” are wrong. In ecology the effects of an event can take years to play out.

    The Exxon Valdez oil spill, for example, killed the northern herring in the area, not on the first year or the second but two years after the spill they all died.

    Sadly we have not even begun to see the real effects of this.

  5. Woodrow Wilson

    BP Board Meeting Minutes -

    BP Executive #1: “Did you the press reports regarding our rig?”

    BP Executive #2: “Yes, but we’ll handle it”

    BP Executive #2: “We’ll spend about $1 Billion on an ad campaign to discredit every single study. Then, we’ll spend another Billion to discredit the scientists involved in those studies that reflect poorly on us. We’ll pressure our “friends” to stop donating to those lackeyt universities that oppose us. Finally, we’ll funnel Super PAC money to a few CONgress members to stand by us and publicaly state everything is fine standing shoulder-to-shoulder on camera. They’ll do what we tell them”

    BP Executive #1: “Sounds good, fucking dumb Americans won’t know the difference. All they do is watch television anyways, or too preoccupied with Democrat versus Republican mantra. Little do the stupid Americans understand we own both sides. Get right on it.”

    /All drink glasses of burboun

  6. King Arthur

    As a resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I would invite any and every journalist who happens to be interested into looking into the corruption among Bill Walker, head of the state’s Department of Marine Resources; his son, Scott Walker, a consultant involved in many post-spill waterfront land deals; and BP and the Bryant/Barbour state administration. There’s a sticky black mess of evil in those connections and someone should find it.

    1. King Arthur

      Especially since Bill Walker has been trumpeting the “Everything is fine” line since day one, as has everyone else in the above.

      1. ambrit

        Sire;
        Also being from the epicentre of the Gulf Spill, I would aver that the corruption issue is as old as the Paternalistic power structure of the Deep South. B.P. merely followed tried and true methods. Buy off the top dogs and then throw some cash around in the lower strata of the elites. I’ve commented before about the waves of cash that anesthetized the ‘local’ public servants, while diverting their attention from what was really going on. This is a case where corruption will quite definitely kill lots of people and other animals in the years to come.

  7. Paul Tioxon

    The long coming Solar Economy needs your support. As you may have noticed when reading about Electric Cars, there seems to be an irrational hatred of the Chevy Volt, charging stations and of course the even more irrational boosterism of Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles by no less than the stellar intellect of the Militant Right Wing, CNBC’s own Rick Santelli, who never ceases to amaze when he draws the viewing public’s attention to one or another of capitalism’s current fetish.

    So, now that the younger among us choke on the received wisdom that if you pour enough toxic chemicals into the living oceans, they will kill everything they come into contact with like a plague movie with an airborne agent that kills everything it comes into contact with. And now that everyone knows that the neo liberals have 2 distinct factions, the hard core and the less so, perhaps you can turn your attention to considered and deliberate activities towards an alternative America, the one that TINA says does not exist, but keeps rearing its optimistic head.

    http://www.rmi.org/Amory_Camden_Conference

  8. Up the Ante

    sense reversal from BP‏

    “The latest surveys of the damage to the marine environment come amid continued legal wrangling between the US and BP over the bill for the clean-up. BP said the US government was withholding evidence that would show the oil spill from the well in the Gulf of Mexico was smaller than claimed. Last week BP, which has set aside $37bn (£23bn) to pay for costs associated with the disaster, went to court in Louisiana to demand access to thousands of documents that it says the Obama administration is suppressing.

    The US government is still pursuing a case against BP despite a deal the company reached at the beginning of March with the largest group of private claimants. That $7.8bn deal, however, does not address “significant damages” to the environment after the spill for which BP has not admitted liability.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/31/dolphins-sick-deepwater-oil-spill

    a Manhattan Project -sized effort

  9. diptherio

    Generally I’m opposed to the death penalty, but in cases like this, I think publicly executing a few BP execs might actually do some good. It would be well deserved retribution sure, but it would also set the right example for other corporate execs.

  10. RanDomino

    The only thing to do now is learn the lesson. When the men in suits come with a contract and offer to make you rich… show them the door.

  11. jsmith

    I hope most here realize that once the true nature of the events of 9/11 were successfully distorted and a false narrative was successfully and firmly jammed into place by TPTB and their media lackeys, the full scale assault on reality had begun.

    The largest commercial offshore oil spill in human history and all of the contaminants they dumped into the water and the world was forced to believe that everything was AOK, no problem with ecosystem, flora and fauna, etc etc.

    I mean, really?!

    Just look to Fukushima for the latest example of how brazen they are at lying to our faces about major cataclysmic events.

    9/11 can and should be considered a test run in this regard.

    1. Up the Ante

      “I hope most here realize that once the true nature of the events of 9/11 were successfully distorted and a false narrative was successfully and firmly jammed into place by TPTB and their media lackeys, the full scale assault on reality had begun. ”

      Word.

      G.H.W.Bush helped to get their foot in the bankers’ door, and W.’s Chimp Boys kicked it open. It currently is hanging from its hinges.

    1. Nathanael

      When Chernobyl happened, the sainted Gorbachev was in power and he determined relatively quickly that the government had to tell the truth.

      I don’t know how we’re going to get a Gorbachev into power in this country. We’d have to get lucky.

  12. Gil Gamesh

    The logical end of disaster capitalism is our collective death. One presumes the rich pricks that run and benefit from our system will be very sad to leave all their wealth precipitously: so much to spend, so little time.

  13. Corexio

    “Decimated” means reduced by 1/10th. Sounds more like
    “destroyed” is in order.

    Orwell said it best “never use a foreign [ok, Latin] word when an English one will do…”

  14. briansays

    shrimp with no eyes
    get ready for the new pink slime
    er excuse me textured seafood product

  15. ExNPRdonor

    Just listened to “Marketplace” on our local NPR station.

    Alex Chadwick, interviewed a bunch of “experts” in Lousiana that claim that bacteria are eating the oil at a rate of
    20%–no time period given. Many interviews with hired guns who say things are turning out just fine.

    With a smile of amazement in his voice and beams of sunshine in his soul he finishes off the report:
    “So the best thing to do about the million or so gallons of oil in the Gulf–Nothing. Let the bacteria feast on it”

    NPR stands for National Petroleum Radio. Much of their funding comes from the Pew Charitable Trust which is funded by coal money and mountaintop removal. National Public Radio pushes the safe causes like “marriage equality” and “immigrant rights” but never really gets to the real issues. For this reason they are worse than Fox which is a blatant PR machine for billionaires and the energy industry. Never send them money again.

    1. ambrit

      Dear EX;
      I learned recently how to piss off a dyed in the wool NPR supporter. She was wearing a “I Love NPR” sweatshirt. “Neat shirt,” I opined. “It’s the only news I listen to now,” she replied. “Well,” I cautiously began, “I find al-Jazeera English to be the best source for non MSM reporting nowadays.” That got me a fierce glare. Oh, the shame!

    2. Nathanael

      A lie with a grain of truth in it.

      There are indeed oil-eating bacteria, which act surprisingly fast. *But they can’t eat Corexit*. The massive dump of highly toxic Corexit by BP and the government isn’t going to clean itself up.

  16. Laser61

    Okay… Let’s just remind our viewers that our friends in the EPA stopped drilling in shallower waters and thereby caused the scenario for BP to use a mile long “straw” to get to the seabed. After it failed, and our fearless leader sat on his thumbs for days keeping the non-teamster and foreign boats away from helping out, we get his mock incredulity.
    Sorry people. Grow up. We use petroleum. It works great. We need it. It can be fairly safe. Incidents like this and Exxon Valdez (google it if you are under 30) are a result of bad public policy. The ‘deez had to use shipping lanes which put it in a hazardous proximity with obstacles in Alaska. I don’t care if the Captain was drunk or stoned.

    Let’s see if this turns out bad. If not we are lucky. If so talk to the EPA and the dude in the oval office.

    1. Nathanael

      OK, let’s get real. We’re running out of “easy” oil. Drilling shallowly doesn’t help at all.

      Furthermore, we have to stop burning oil because of GLOBAL WARMING, which is already causing crop failures worldwide.

      What we need to do is build lots and lots of solar panels and geothermal heat pumps.

  17. Emery

    Yea Obama – he really kicked some BP A$$ didn’t he. The irony is that people still say drill baby drill even after the gulf disaster. BP has already made their loses back. No worries there. There is oil that can be reached without destroying an entire ecosystem. But they cap those wells or get the evoiro’s to stop it. The shale oil fields are another disaster in the making. But people say drill baby drill still. What will it take to wake people up? Pollute the whole planet with Corexit and radiation? Corexit is a mutating man made virus. No telling what the end result will be. I feel like a guinea pig for the NWO.

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