Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Forgotten Disaster

Humans are fickle creatures with extremely short memories. This spring, the world was witness to one of the greatest human-caused disaster in history when the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded and began spewing what would turn out to be millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Yet, even before BP managed to cap off and stem most of the oil pouring into the sea water, people started losing interest in the horrible disaster. Perhaps it was due to the feelings of helplessness about being unable to help, or maybe the massive scope of the disaster was just so overwhelming that people no longer wanted to be reminded of the horrors that have been (and continue to be) wreaked upon the Gulf coast ecosystem. I am no particular news junkie, but I have barely noticed any coverage of of the BP spill in the mainstream media since BP announced that the flow of oil had been stemmed back at the end of July.

Amazingly, in less than one month, one of the most devastating disasters in human history has all but disappeared from the mind of the general public. How can this be? Counterpunch has an excellent report, Slow Violence In The Gulf And The BP Coverup, on the what has been going on regarding the oil spill since July 30th, and it turns out that BP has had much assistance in slipping the destructive results of their corporate malfeasance out from under the attention of most of the North American citizenry.

From the article:
Three vanishing acts are being played out in the Gulf: the disappearing of the oil from the ocean surface by Corexit, the disappearing of the story by the media blockade, and the disappearing from view of the shadowy private contractors who are making a mint helping BP and the Coast Guard keep a cover on the clean-up.
The short version is that BP has been spraying millions of gallons of dispersants (made by a subsidiary company to save money) in order to lessen the amount of obvious surface oil, especially at night in order to avoid reporting on the aircraft spraying poisonous Corexit into the waters of the already-devastated Gulf. They then have their own consultants issue ridiculously-positive reports on how all the damage has been almost fixed.

Next, BP has done everything in its power (and with help from the coast guard and private security companies) to prevent reporters from gaining access to affected areas. Individuals hired to assist in the cleanup must sign non-disclosure agreements or risk losing their jobs. Jobs that are critical to the massive numbers of people out of work because of the devastation done to the Gulf economy. On top of that, major media organizations seem to be completely uninterested in keeping the public informed on what kind of progress is being made in cleaning up the millions of gallons of oil spread throughout the ocean.

Naturally, the United States government has been compliant beyond all reason. The Obama administration has been almost completely unwilling to fight back against the lies and obfuscation from the rival Republican party, but the way they have allowed themselves to be used by BP in order to convince the American public that the spill is under control and the worst of the damage has been dealt with is almost sickening. The Democrats essentially handed over control and responsibility of the Gulf environment cleanup to BP, a company that has done everything it can over the past 30 years to prove that it has no regard for anything other than profit margin.

Anyhow, read the whole article. If it doesn't infuriate you, you're either BP president Tony Hayward or a horrible human being (but I repeat myself).

(H/T to Mike the Mad Biologist)

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