reply to post by Bicent76
Yes Bicent76, We need a devine intervention, a Hero.
JUAN GONZALEZ: As we continue our discussion on the BP oil spill, we turn now to look at the long-term ecological impact of the spill. Our next guest
testified before Congress last week and warned the fallout from the spill may be felt across much of the world. Joining us here in New York is Carl
Safina, the founding president of Blue Ocean Institute. He’s author of many books about marine ecology and the ocean, including Song for the Blue
Welcome to Democracy Now!
CARL SAFINA: Thanks for having me.
JUAN GONZALEZ: What message did you bring to Congress?
CARL SAFINA: Well, that this is not just a regional disaster, although it certainly is, but that the Gulf of Mexico is a tremendous engine of life and
also a tremendous concentration zone, where animals from the whole open Atlantic Ocean funnel into the Gulf for breeding and millions of animals cross
the Gulf and concentrate there on their northward migration and then fan out to populate much of North America and the Canadian Arctic, the East
Coast, the Canadian Maritimes. So it’s a real hotspot, and it’s a terrible place to foul.
AMY GOODMAN: Tuna?
CARL SAFINA: The bluefin tuna that occupy most of the North Atlantic Ocean have two separate breeding populations. One breeds in the Mediterranean.
The other breeds in the Gulf. So all the tuna that populate the East Coast, the Canadian Maritimes, the Gulfstream, even that go as far as the North
Sea, many of those are from the western population and breed only in the Gulf of Mexico. This is their breeding season. They’ve just about finished
now. And their eggs and larvae are drifting around in a toxic soup of oil and dispersant.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the dispersant Corexit.
CARL SAFINA: Well, the dispersant is a toxic pollutant that has been applied in the volume of millions of gallons and I think has greatly exacerbated
the situation. I think the whole idea of using a dispersant is wrong, and I think it’s part of the whole pattern of BP trying to cover up and hide
the body. They don’t want us to see how much oil, so they’ve taken this oil that was concentrated at the surface and dissolved it. But when you
dissolve it, it’s still there, and it actually gets more toxic, because instead of being in big blobs, it’s now dissolved and can get across the
gills, get into the mouths of animals. The water below the floating oil was water. Now it’s this toxic soup. So I think that in this whole pattern
of BP trying to not let people know what’s going on, the idea of disperse the oil is a way of just hiding the body. But it actually makes the oil
more toxic, and it adds this incredible amount of toxic pollutant in the dispersant itself.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the potential you were talking about, that this is the season when so much of the marine life and the bird life is creating their
young, what is the effect on the birds, on those birds that are about to hatch or maybe are already in the process of hatching?
CARL SAFINA: Yeah, well, not only do you have birds there that are breeding, like the pelicans and some of the gulls and some of the terns, those
birds will probably have a completely catastrophic breeding season, because it’s not just birds on the beach or birds in their nest. Their parents
make a living diving into water. There’s no way around that. You can put booms that are twenty-feet high. They’re going to fly out to feed. And
when I was there, we could see on the Chandeleur Islands quite a few of the terns were already lightly oiled, but they will just get progressively
more and more oiled. And no amount of protecting the area where the nests are is going to change the fact that the parents are going to have a
tremendous amount of trouble. And many of them will just get killed.
But also, there were sanderlings, ruddy turnstones, black belly plovers and a dozen other species that don’t stay there. They’re moving, and
they’re migrating through. They come—they winter as far south as southern South America. They nest across the Canadian tundra and in the High
Arctic. They’re some of the longest-distance migrants in the world. They cannot do that unless their fathers are working. And if their feathers are
sticking together, they’re not going to be able to make it. They don’t have the energy to get to where they’re going to go. So they’re going
to be dropping out along the way. The other thing is you have peregine falcons that are coming across from the Yucatan on their way to breeding
grounds in the Arctic—excuse me—and as far away as Greenland. They will be selectively picking off these birds that are compromised. So they will
be getting higher doses of oil. So this is just a horrible place to have something like this happening, because it’s such a concentration point for
animals that move.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the question of bombing the actual—where the leak is coming from? Some say BP doesn’t want to do it, because then they
would have to rebuild if they would ever get to offshore drill again. But what effect would that have?
CARL SAFINA: Oh, well, I’m not a—you know, I’m not a drilling technologist, and I don’t know if it would work. But actually, bombing part of
the sea floor right there, I think, would have no real ecological effect other than the noise, which would affect marine mammals like dolphins and
whales. But, you know, one or two blasts, I think, if it shut the oil off, would probably have been worth trying. But I don’t know if that would
AMY GOODMAN: Who do you think should be in charge of this operation, this cleanup operation?
CARL SAFINA: Well, BP had a lease to drill. They did not have a lease to pollute the Gulf of Mexico. They did not have a lease to blow oil into the
environment. They did not have a lease to disperse the oil and try to hide the body. They don’t have a lease to clean up. They don’t have a lease
to make the fishermen sick. They don’t have a lease to tell the United States, "We’ll keep using a dispersant that’s banned in Europe, even
though you’re telling us to stop using it." They should have been shoved out of the way on day two. And there should have been a war council of all
the other oil companies that know how to drill to focus on stopping the oil from coming out of the hole. And then BP’s responsibility—they are
responsible, but they obviously don’t know what to do, and they can’t do it, and they’re not doing it. Their responsibility should be what
they’re good at: pay money. Pay money to the United States. They’re on our property. They’re in our water. They’re making our people sick.
They’re destroying our wildlife. Pay money and have the United States take over.
JUAN GONZALEZ: This whole issue of drilling in areas so deep that if there is an accident you cannot really get there to fix it, what is it—you
know, to me, it’s almost like Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. It’s like you never—you were guaranteeing people that it would never happen, but
once it happens once, you realize the potential catastrophe that you are creating through this process. What is your sense of the future of ocean
drilling, in terms of what this has told the rest of the people of the United States and the world?
CARL SAFINA: Right, well, there have been other blowouts, and there have been major oil spills. It’s different than Chernobyl because we know it
happens. It happens. It’s happened before. It will happen again. And it’s happening right now. So, you know, and obviously they didn’t have any
backup plan. It’s as if having poked 30,000 holes into the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico and have 5,000 rigs operating, it never occurred to them
to say, "Oh, what if oil starts coming out of one of those holes, like it has in other places at other times?" They were completely unprepared. They
don’t have the equipment. They don’t have booms that can work in open water. And what the obvious take-home message is, we don’t know how to do
this. We can poke the hole. We don’t know how to deal with some things that we know happen, because they’ve happened. But people have not
developed the technology or warehoused the tools or created booms that work in ocean swell conditions or any of that stuff. We’re trying to wring
the last drops out of a depleting resource. And this really needs to be the pivotal moment where we say oil is declining, we need a national energy
policy that looks past oil. You know, BP, at one time they said that their name meant "beyond petroleum." Now it’s "beyond pathetic." But we
really need to get past oil.
AMY GOODMAN: What about "beyond prosecution"? Are they? And should they be held criminally liable?
CARL SAFINA: Of course they’re criminally responsible. They were trying to hurry up. When you have an argument on a rig about how fast to go and
what to do, you don’t tell people, "Just hurry it up." I mean, this is absolutely criminal. And I think that—you know, we’re still asking,
"Oh, can we go in? Can we use respirators?" This is insane.
AMY GOODMAN: The Atlantis, deepwater offshore drilling site, has that been shut down, which dwarfs the Horizon Deepwater?
CARL SAFINA: Actually, I don’t know if that’s still going on or has been shut down.
AMY GOODMAN: Has all offshore drilling been shut down? No?
CARL SAFINA: No, not at all. And in fact, unfortunately, the Obama administration, I think, blew it on the high ground here. You know, there was Sarah
Palin, "drill, baby, drill," right? So we don’t want that; we elect Obama. And then what happens is we get "drill, baby, drill." That’s what
we got. We got a stepped-up effort to eliminate the ban on offshore drilling that was, what, a couple of generations old. And now they’re stuck with
that, because, of course, nobody wants to actually do the smart thing and say, "Oh, you know what? We made a mistake," because then, oh, they’ve
lost face. So, oh, we can’t lose face. The obvious right thing is the drilling ban was the right thing to do. The drilling ban is the right thing to
do. We don’t know how to take care of these problems. We need to stop it. We need to make this a pivotal moment and have a national energy policy
for the first time that gets beyond this and phases out fossil fuels, which kill people, make people sick and detroy the environment.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much for being with us, Carl Safina, founding president of the Blue Ocean Institute. He has written a number of
books, including Song for the Blue Ocean.
This is really the bottom line. We have an event in the Gulf which has now stretched on for more than 5 weeks which is emptying toxins into the ocean
and the atmosphere at a cataclysmic rate. In looking at the problem I am trying to anticipate its likely effects and consequences.
Looking at the Gulf Oil catastrophe how does that affect the planetary system? Our oceans have been called the cradle of life and much of life on
earth remains dependent on those oceans. If you disrupt the ocean system you disrupt, indirectly, life everywhere. The gushers have not yet been
stoppered and there is currently no realistic prospect that they will be anytime soon.
Obama is obviously bought and paid for and the Feral Government's incompetent and even obeisant response to BP's actions and inactions is clearly
obvious to anyone who cares to look honestly.
The environmental damage is at this point hard to calculate. Most people seem to be thinking too small - just in terms of its affect on the Gulf. This
is not going to be contained to the Gulf. Yes, the Gulf is going to become a massive "Dead Zone" but as the oil spreads out on the Gulf stream it is
going to begin to have an impact on larger and larger areas.
As is frequently the case people are reluctant, and even blind, to looking at a very large problem on the correct scale. The volume of oil and gas
coming out of those holes is beyond the normal scale of human catastrophes. If not contained relatively soon this is potentially an Extinction Level
Event. The one unknown variable is the volume of oil in the pool that has been ruptured. Based on the evidence and speculations I have read it is most
likely to be measured in the TRILLIONS of gallons.
The best expert estimates I have seen are that minimally we have 2.9 MILLION GALLONS of Oil escaping into the Gulf each day. The volume of methane is
about treble that. BP, in an effort to camouflage its true scale is pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of even more toxic oil dispersant into
the volcano. To get an idea of the scale think of the largest stadium you know, fill it with oil every day, dump it on the surrounding landscape, and
then refill it TWICE each day. Then you begin to get an approximation of the volume of oil escaping.
Most people are aware of the toxic nature of petroleum, but are not used to thinking in terms of gases. Methane, in the ocean, replaces oxygen and
carbon dioxide in the water. Fish and Mammals require oxygen and the plant life requires carbon dioxide for normal metabolism. Remove that by
replacing it with a toxic gas, and methane is a poison, and you have a result that is a toxic cloud unseen creeping through the Gulf killing both
plant and animal life. And it is growing at a catastrophic rate each day.
Most people are aware of the Amazon Rain Forest and what that plant life means to the production of breathable Oxygen. However, most people are
unaware that the oceans produce 50 to 70 percent of the available free oxygen. This is done by ocean plant life mostly in the form of what is known as
Phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are small, often single cell, micro plants that form the base of the ocean food chain. Phytoplankton takes dissolved
carbon dioxide and minerals from the sea water, and with the input of energy in the form of sunlight, through photosynthesis they create cellular
matter which is then consumed by the next higher level of the food chain and on and on with the larger consuming the smaller until you reach the top
of the food chain.
So, why the lecture on the ocean ecosystem? Because the Gulf produces as much or more oxygen than the entire Amazon Rain Forest. Let that sink in for
a moment. Try to wrap your mind around that scale, and then realize that the Gulf is only part of the picture - more on that in a moment. As the cloud
of death in the form of toxic petroleum and methane permeates the gulf things are going to begin to die. And the cloud of petroleum also reduces the
amount of sunlight reaching the phytoplankton thus inhibiting photosynthesis. So, even before it dies from the toxins in the water its metabolism is
going to be slowed by the unnatural shade and its consumption of carbon dioxide and output of free oxygen will be inhibited.
Under the surface the heavier oil is suspended as a large black cloud. Oceanographers have already noticed it in photos and in sampling from 2,000
feet down. As this heavier oil reaches coastal inclines it will be forced upward into shallower waters and befouling everything in its path. This
cloud is so heavy that no life whatsoever can exist within it - saving perhaps a few bacteria.
Now think on a larger scale. The Gulf is not an isolated pond of water - it is part of the larger ocean that is simply a back pool but is connected to
the larger ocean by the inwelling and outwelling of currents and tides. So, what happens in the Gulf will eventually spread into the larger open ocean
- with the same effects.
As the growing cloud of petroleum and methane begins to move into the Atlantic, in addition to fouling beaches and killing wildlife, it will be a
cloud of death to ocean life large and small. The last major event in the Gulf went unplugged for about 9 months, but it was about one third or less
the size of this oil volcano. At the current minimum rate of flow the amount of petroleum that will have entered Gulf waters will, in just one year,
exceed one BILLION gallons. Again pause to take that in as I know that these numbers are so large that most people are going to have difficulty with
the scale. And the volume of methane will be treble that. And this is just based on the estimated flow rate which could be even greater than what we
currently know. The government and BP are fighting furiously to keep the real numbers from the public.
At that rate the entire Gulf will become a Dead Zone in about a year. All the while the cloud creeps out into surrounding waters moving up and down
coast lines killing virtually everything in its path.
Extrapolating outward the cloud begins to affect coastal fisheries and marine life of all kinds up and down the shorelines of two continents, and
still it spreads. Since many third world communities rely upon fisheries for food and subsistence disease and death will follow in its wake. This is
of course the “worst case scenario”, but at this point in time the actions taken to staunch the ruptured seabed from leaking devastating amounts
of toxins into are incompetent and ineffective.
Carried out to its cataclysmic extreme, with no effective action to stop the flow of oil and gas, the potential exists to inhibit the greater
ocean’s carbon dioxide absorbtion, and oxygen production, to the point that the atmosphere of the planet itself tips over into toxic.
May God Have Mercy on Our Souls.