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BP sucks, part 2

When, during our trip to the Louisiana coast with two bright young actors from the show ONE TREE HILL and a small documentary crew, Dude* told me that we were going out on a boat, I envisioned something with canopies and cushioned seating and a big icebox and perhaps even a hot guy at the wheel with his shirt off, the long lean muscles beneath his bronzed skin rippling in the sunlight.

(Okay, maybe I didn't really envision that last part, I just wanted to give you the visual.)

The reality was much more basic. There was one seat and one small icebox, no canopy, and everyone remained fully clothed. I sat on the floor of the boat and leaned back against Dude, drowsing in the sun as the boat bumped and skipped across the water. I was feeling blissed-out until the boat slowed and then came to a stop. What I saw next triggered me to send off a tweet ending with ...Fuck U, BP.

Birds. Brown pelicans cawing and crying as they circled a small island edged with rocks that were coated in black oil. Two layers of orange booms bobbed in the water and didn't seem to be doing much as the water lapped over and washed in between them. They looked adrift and disconnected. "This technology," our guide informed us, gesturing at the booms, "hasn't changed in thirty years." I was amazed that he said technology with a straight face.

This island is a critical nesting area, and the clouds of circling birds were crying out in distress because they couldn't find any place to land. The oil was washing up onto the island and into the nests, and rescuers were creating another layer of damage as they accidentally crushed nests and hatchlings. Our guide explained that environmentalist groups had worked hard to get the brown pelican off the 'endangered species' list. "Now these birds are going to go right back on it," she said, "and this could be the fatal blow that wipes out the species entirely." The brown pelican dives into the water to catch fish. When crude oil coats a bird, it contaminates the animal's own innate oils that it preens across its feathers to keep itself warm and water-resistant. Even if its body is thoroughly cleaned, the bird is still likely to die.

As we drifted aside the rocks, we saw orange- and reddish-black clumps of oil floating on the surface and baking in the sun. Dude leaned over to collect a sample in an empty water bottle. Someone compared it to dog diarrhea; someone else called up the image of dirty diapers. The surface of the water was slick with what looked like gasoline, the light playing across it in faint rainbow patterns.

And in the near-distance, the dolphins.

Dolphins were carving arcs all around us: one would disappear into the water and another would appear somewhere else. Several had baby dolphins riding their backs. Our delight in seeing them soon faded. They were doomed. "They're smart enough to leave this area," said our guide, "except this is where they feed. They're eating the contaminated fish." (The first dead dolphins started washing up on the beach not long after.)

Our guide explained how many of these poisoned animals would die out in the water with no record of their deaths, no documentation, nothing to hold BP responsible.

BP's liability accumulates with every gallon of oil extracted from the water, every animal corpse. They've chosen to deal with the situation by spraying -- by overspraying -- the oil with a dispersant that some say is more toxic than the oil itself. Although the ocean has its own ways of breaking down crude oil, the process can't work quickly enough to deal with such a human-generated catastrophe. In any case, by dispersing rather than absorbing and collecting, BP also helps their liability ...dissipate. And by keeping the public away from the beaches (see previous post) -- including the media -- they keep us in the dark about dead animals washing up on the sand. (This also gives BP a motive to, say, burn still-living but contaminated sea turtles.)

On our drive back to New Orleans, we stopped off at LaRose to visit what had been described to me as a "town meeting" that would address the general situation. I was expecting an audience of townspeople and a podium, some speeches, some outrage.

It turned out to be an event taking place in the auditorium of a school. Display tables lined the walls, offering information about the oil spill, the efforts being made to clean it up, and -- my favorite -- advice on how to downsize your lifestyle (with no explanation as to *why* you might have to do this). The sponsor of this event was...BP! The people standing behind the tables and so kindly answering questions and dispensing information all worked for...BP! Dude overheard one BP staffer talking into his cell phone: "...yeah, we're doing another one of these environmental fair things."

I had a conversation with an impassioned, articulate blonde woman who admitted she worked for BP and tried to persuade me that:

1. The dispersant is not as toxic as the oil.

2. The sea turtles are so stupid that they actually *eat* the clumps of floating oil (so they deserve to burn, those little mofo's! And it's totally not BP's fault!)

3. Those floating booms truly do represent the best and most advanced technology that any human beings anywhere could have come up with ever, which is why they haven't changed in 30 years. (As the ex-wife of a guy who invested his own money to launch rockets into space and develop fast and gorgeous electric cars, I couldn't help but wonder aloud why BP hadn't invested any of their billions into developing some technology that might deal with a situation like this with, say, a little more effectiveness. Which might otherwise be known as a "back-up plan." The woman informed me that "sending rockets into space is easy compared to this because when you're dealing with the ocean you're dealing with three different kinds of science. With space, all you're dealing with is physics." Oh.

4. Nature pumps so much oil into the ocean of its own accord that ultimately this is no big deal.

5. It's all Obama's fault anyway.





* for those of you just joining us, Dude is my boyfriend of almost one year now. We started dating nine months after my separation.
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Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
(Anonymous)
Jul. 9th, 2010 06:19 am (UTC)
BP
"Nothing is more dangerous that sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity"~MLK.jr
mastadge
Jul. 7th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks for continuing to speak about this. I know people are getting tired of the continued reminders that this is still happening -- it's gone from outrageous news to contemptible familiarity for many of those who live far from the sullied shores -- but it's important not to let people forget that this is a national emergency happening on our watch.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 7th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
really? REALLY?
I know you can't "solve a problem with the mind that created it," but does that really apply to idiots?

With all the talk going on, how is it no one else is making the emotional arguments you've managed in a few short paragraphs? As with any writing the vision of Pelicans crying out because they can't LAND and Dolphins with babies on their backs washing up on shore is at least as effective as the boy with rippling muscles driving the boat. Bravo Justine, I hope more people get to read this!

-Dufflyn
www.dufflyn.blogspot.com
carmiel
Jul. 8th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
This pisses me off so much I boosted the signal in my LJ. This info *needs* get out.
suricattus
Jul. 8th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
ok to share your URL?
moschus
Jul. 8th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC)
absolutely
(Anonymous)
Aug. 26th, 2010 06:55 am (UTC)
I want to share it too :)
I read your 2 post regarding the oil spill and its really interesting and how people interact in your content.

Jig
BP T-shirt (http://www.bpblowstshirts.com/)
ext_237209
Jul. 8th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
heartbreaking
Justine, thanks for posting this. It broke my heart, but our hearts need to be broken. Imagine if all of us could go see this devastation first hand...I wonder if there would be a greater outcry? It really does make me want to get rid of my cars. I can do a lot by bike, and I'm going to get back to that.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 8th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
Lindsay Lohan!
You know all this stuff about birds and fish dieing sounds really sad, but more important to america is that Lindsay Lohan might be going to jail for a bit!
And journalists are allowed within 65 feet of Lohan unlike the unfriendly oil spill you have to keep your distance from.
So let's just forget about all this, the ocean will clean it up anyways, and let's fear for Lindsay Lohan's freedom!
(Anonymous)
Jul. 8th, 2010 04:15 am (UTC)
whatever you write, I'll read! Thanks for the first-hand account! (but I can't find part 2--did you skip from 1 to 3?)
(Anonymous)
Jul. 8th, 2010 06:09 am (UTC)
feeling sick
Can I vomit now? Bravo to you for letting the blonde woman for BP speak on behalf of the turtles and their own bad choices in meeting their demise.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 8th, 2010 07:41 am (UTC)
Utter dismay
Justine, thank you for the visualization of just how bad things are. It is shameful that this disaster persists, the long term effects will surely haunt the region for decades to come. That an entire species of pelican indigenous to the region may become extinct is unconscionable. Swimming around a pod of dolphin; they are incredibly curious, smart and intuitive beings. As playful as children and equally innocent. This is an utterly hopeless situation, so unnecessary and entirely preventable. Hindsight is an unfortunate element of the human condition...what consequence our folly?
dichroic
Jul. 8th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
It's almost too painful to think about the dolphins and pelicans, so I will just note that her physics is entirely *wrong*. (And what the heck does "only physics" mean? Most science reduces to physics if you go deep enough.)

It is true that dealing with being in space is easier than dealing with being at the bottom of the ocean; the Space Station only has to deal with a 1-atmosphere pressure differential, whereas anything you send down to stop the spill has to be built on the surface, then deal with much greater pressures. However, this overlooks a bunch of factors: first, as you know from your ex, there is that whole problem of getting into space, reaching escape velocity and so on. To get to the bottom of the ocean you simply have to sink. More relevant, though, is that at the time you weren't talking about that. You were talking about cleanup - that is, separating oil from water and collecting the former. Which is, y'know, just physics.
moschus
Jul. 9th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
awesome comment, thanks. physics indeed.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 9th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
in retrospect, E is really a lucky guy...
Reading your blog (a new kind of activity for me...) made me realize that E probably is as successful as he is in the business world because he lived for a long time with someone who is a true critical thinker. I am not implying in any way that he is more important or anything... But for sure he must have bounced his ideas with you and you certainly gave him a run for his money (no pun intended) based on what I read of your mode of thinking. I believe that in your twenties, the person you live with defines who you are to some extent.... You shaped who he is (and therefore deserve what you get) and should be a great influence on your 5 boys!
This post is a compliment btw... in case my comment came out poorly...
moschus
Jul. 9th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
Re: in retrospect, E is really a lucky guy...
thank you!!! what an awesome thing to say.

"I believe that in your twenties, the person you live with defines who you are to some extent..." That resonates with me. Also, I was thinking the other day about what I might have or hope to have absorbed from Elon: his ability to put his head down and persevere, absorb the inevitable blows and little failures and learn from them and press on, his willingness to bleed (metaphorically) for what he believes in, his fearlessness in creating big dreams and goals for himself, his single-minded focus and ability to block out distraction. Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Edited at 2010-07-09 06:12 pm (UTC)
docbrite
Jul. 9th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 15th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
Oil Stopped
Hey J, I just read that BP finally stopped the Damn Leak. it's about time.....Lets never forget about the damage and destruction. Now comes the work to clean and restore. JR
moschus
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:26 am (UTC)
Re: Oil Stopped
Amen.
a7210148
Sep. 7th, 2010 11:23 am (UTC)
Thanks to the upcoming World Basketball Festival, we now get a “USA” Air Jordan 2010 Team. It seems as if more people like the Air Jordan 2010 Team than the original Air Jordan 2010 because of the windowless side panels. I’m not one of those people who likes the team better; I think the original
Nike Shoes 2010 Shoes looks much better.Since this jordan Shoes Team is made for the USA team, the colorway should be clear. White can be seen on the side panels, toe, shoe laces, tongue, part of the midsole and the entire outsole. Navy blue covers the toe, heel, inner lining and above the midsole. Red accents appear on the tongue, toe, heel, lace panels and the midsole. The sneaker is constructed of perforated white leather with larger perforations placed on the side panels.
bin281422091
Sep. 7th, 2010 11:54 am (UTC)
Thanks to the upcoming World Basketball Festival, we now get a “USA” Air Jordan 2010 Team. It seems as if more people like the Air Jordan 2010 Team than the original Air Jordan 2010 because of the windowless side panels. I’m not one of those people who likes the team better; I think the original
Nike Shoes 2010 Shoes looks much better.Since this jordan Shoes Team is made for the USA team, the colorway should be clear. White can be seen on the side panels, toe, shoe laces, tongue, part of the midsole and the entire outsole. Navy blue covers the toe, heel, inner lining and above the midsole. Red accents appear on the tongue, toe, heel, lace panels and the midsole. The sneaker is constructed of perforated white leather with larger perforations placed on the side panels.
kgdenver
Sep. 15th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
Hold on a second
I’m actually finding myself more angered by your perspective on this than I am by BP. In response to seeing the Gulf, you "couldn't help but wonder aloud why BP hadn't invested any of their billions into developing some technology that might deal with a situation like this with, say, a little more effectiveness."

In an earlier post, you described your ex-husband as someone who's incredibly brilliant and driven, adding that he wants to "change the world, and probably will."

Well, Justine, you were married to someone who had the capacity to invest millions in whatever he wanted - potentially some technology that, in fact, could've had a more positive impact on the world than million-dollar sports cars (no matter how "gorgeous") ever will - and instead chose to "launch rockets into space" rather than improve boom technology. And for this, you applaud him, comparing him to those folks at BP who "chose not to."

I ask you to reconsider your perspective here. If a single individual who claims that he'd like to "change the world" - and has millions with which to do so - doesn't, then why would a company, which is rendered far more unwieldy by the sheer number of shareholders and executives, be expected to make that decision?
moschus
Sep. 16th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Hold on a second
I will admit to a decade-long history of idealizing my ex-husband (let's just say that I'm past that now :).

BP had an established culture of neglect & carelessness when it came to safety regulations, which resulted in the explosion that killed 11 people, etc. Irony is that they "spent years promoting themselves as a socially responsible company" (from TIME magazine http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1209454,00.html). A truly socially responsible company would have recognized the very real danger of a worst-case scenario and planned for it accordingly, out of simple respect for the lives and livelihoods that they were fucking around with just by being there in the first place. Imagine: the rig goes BOOM, the company swoops down and fixes it in a day. Or a week. Or even a month.

Edited at 2010-09-16 08:37 pm (UTC)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

I'm the author of three published novels: the dark fantasies BLOODANGEL and LORD OF BONES (Roc/Penguin) and the YA supernatural thriller UNINVITED (MTV/Simon&Schuster). I also have stories in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE 2 and ZOMBIES: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE HUNGRY DEAD. I'm working on a psychological thriller called THE DECADENTS. I am divorced, with sons, and live in Bel Air.

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