Monday, July 4, 2016

End-of-the-World rumors surround Gulf oil spill

BP announced that the cost of their cleanup effort in the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill has surpassed 3 billion dollars. I'm sure we all weep for them...
What can I say about the Gulf oil spill that hasn't already been written?
The spill has been going on long enough now that the conspiracy theorists are having a field day. Some of their conjecture is bizarre; but some of it makes you wonder.
  •  Example: BP's cleanup plan, filed months ago, projects work continuing until August, yet the 562-page report makes no mention of hurricanes or tropical storms. (Did no one tell them that this is hurricane season?) According to Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey, that rumor is absolutely true. Several news outlets also reported that the plan includes efforts to be taken with walruses. There are no walruses in the gulf. Oh, and if you need help with wildlife, don't call the number the plan provides for a national wildlife expert: he's been dead for years.
  •  Example: There are rumors that it's actually starting to rain oil along the Gulf coast. When I first heard that, I completely discounted the idea. After all, for oil to come down as rain, it would first have to evaporate. And if oil evaporated, there would be no sense in spending billions to clean it up, right? The official website of NOAA, the government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, when asked about the possibility of a hurricane lifting and raining oil, says: "No. Hurricanes draw water vapor from a large area, much larger than the area covered by oil, and rain is produced in clouds circulating in the hurricane." Nevertheless, there are several videos on YouTube claiming that it rained oil in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, and some of the video is compelling. There is also a news story about plants dying in a ten mile swath across Shelby and Tipton counties in Tennessee near the Mississippi river. Your choice who to believe.
  •  Example: The spill is not just about the oil. Depending on the well, oil can spew other 'volatile organic compounds.' There are several sites on the Net claiming this spill is emitting Hydrogen Sulfide at levels of 1,200 parts per billion, far beyond the 'safe' level of 5 or 10 ppb; benzene at 1000 times the safe level; Methylene Chloride at 50 times what humans can safely tolerate. That sounds ominous; however, I have to wonder, where did they get their information? BP sure isn't saying... I searched their site for either 'benzene' or 'hydrogen sulfide' and came up empty. The NOAA site referenced earlier is likewise silent on the subject. And the EPA, while difficult to decipher, seems to be saying that H2S levels in the air of the Louisiana coast are at .1 ppb. Who to believe?
  •  Example: There are several sites howling calamity regarding BP's use of the dispersant Corexit 9500, and their use of it in unprecedented amounts. Conspiracy theorists particularly love the detail that the EPA told BP to use something else and BP refused, giving as their reason that Corexit ceases to be dangerous after a month, whereas the substitute the EPA wanted is harmful for years. Further, some are claiming that BP is using the dispersant underwater, a use for which it was not designed. The reason given - by the conspiracy theorists - for their doing so? Keeping the oil underwater, so we can't see the huge stain spreading on the surface. And keeping the vast majority of the oil from washing onto the beaches until after the media has moved on to other, more pressing disaster stories. Regardless, according to a story in the European Union Times, Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources warned Russian President Medvedev that use of Corexit in such large amounts will result in toxic rain polluting most of eastern North America. But when I went to the Russian Ministry's own website I found no mention of any such report. Definitely a believable story, but is it true?
Lastly, there is a whole raft of conspiracy theorists out there saying that this oil spill will bring about the end of the world.
  •  Example: The Deepwater Horizon well begins under 5,000 feet of water, then drills down some 30,000 feet. Self-proclaimed 'oilfield chaplain' Lindsey Williams claims there is no way to safely drill that deep, as the pressure at that depth creates an 'artesian well' effect that is uncontrollable. Sort of the 'if man were meant to fly...' mentality.
  •  Example: "This leak will never stop...when it alters the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic currents, prepare for an INSTANT ICE AGE..the arctic air will rush in and the methane release from this leak will cause the -150 degree stratospheric air to sink." Yeah, I saw that movie, too...
  •  Example: There are actually pundits proclaiming that the Deepwater Horizon well cracked the 'mantle' (I think they mean the crust; the mantle is below the crust) of the earth, and now the surface of the earth will crack and splinter and destroy the world as we know it. I don't think that one deserves comment.
There are no simple comments to make about this disaster. While some rumors may cause a chuckle, I certainly don't mean to make light of this serious situation. Several oil industry experts - speaking anonymously, of course - have already stated that BP was criminally careless with this well, and have suggested that their other well sites need a closer look.

Was this catastrophe caused by greed and carelessness? Absolutely. Does it add to the fulfillment of the prophecy that man would be 'ruining the earth' as the end approaches? (Revelation 11:18) Certainly. But mostly, it adds more proof to the wisdom that "mere mortals can't run their own lives; men and women don't have what it takes to take charge of life." (Jeremiah 10:23)

Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at

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