by Kelley Bergman
August 23, 2010
Kelley Bergman is a
media consultant, critic and geopolitical investigator.
She has worked as a journalist and writer, specializing
in geostrategic issues around the globe.
Can you complete the following sentence? The BP oil spill is now
If you used words or phrases such as
“contained”, “over”, “capped”, “out of the news” or “under control”,
you have unfortunately fallen prey to the mind play of the
mainstream media. The oil spill is none of these things except
perhaps out of the news. In fact, the aftermath of the biggest
environmental disaster in history has not yet begun.
In early August, the mainstream media reiterated for days regarding
the Obama administration’s claim that most of the oil spewed from
BP’s well is either gone or widely dispersed. The lies were exposed
at lightening speed.
Some estimates claim as much as
90% of leaked oil is still floating
in the gulf.
latest estimate, writes Randy Rieland at
environmental hub Grist, is that,
“only 10 percent of the oil that
gushed out of the Deepwater Horizon well was ‘actually removed
from the ocean.’”
That’s one of the more “pessimistic”
estimates thus far, and comes from an oceanographer at Florida State
It’s also “wildly at odds with what the
feds have been saying - that as much as 75 of the oil is gone.”
Marine biologist Stephen Mottram says that the current toxic load in
the Gulf which is venturing well out into Atlantic waters will
threaten a large percentage of the world’s phytoplankton
“The balance and concentration of
phytoplankton in the upper benthic layer is critical to the a
major portion of world’s oxygen and this community is now being
exposed to major threat from the BP disaster and so-called clean
Julia Whitty at Mother Jones
focuses on a separate study, a,
“simulation of oil and methane
leaked into the Gulf” which “suggests that deep hypoxic zones,
also known as dead zones, could form near the source of the
pollution… Dead zones,” she explains, “occur where oxygen levels
have dropped below the threshold to support most marine life.”
Here’s the problem, she continues:
“the last thing the Gulf of Mexico
needs is anymore dead zones. It’s already home to the second
largest dead zone on Earth, a side-effect of fertilizer overuse
in North America’s breadbasket.”
The LA Times reported on
a hearing on
Capitol Hill where a NOAA official conceded that three-fourths of
the pollutants from the 4.1 million barrels spewed into the gulf are
still lingering in the environment.
Bill Lehr, senior scientist with NOAA’s Office of Restoration
and Response, said booming and burning probably cleaned up only
about 10% of the spilled oil.
Much of the oil has evaporated or
dispersed, but remains a source of hydrocarbons in the ecosystem, he
“This is a continuing operation,”
Lehr emphasized. “The spill is far from over. We’re beginning a
new phase, and NOAA and all the other agencies will be involved
If only 10% of the spilled oil was
actually recovered, that is equivalent to the 10% to 15% recoveries
scientists estimated were possible from a major spill at the time of
the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, Markey noted.
“So it seems to me that BP comes in
only at the low end of what was possible 20 years ago… I think
it’s important that even using a 21-year-old grading system,
that BP has done a very poor job in cleaning up the gulf.”
At the Gulf Oil Spill and Seafood
Safety Government Panel of the House Committee Energy & Commerce on
August 19, 2010, Professor Ian MacDonald from Florida State
University stated that the,
“oil has already degraded…it has
already evaporated and emulsified. It is going to be very
resistant to further biodegradation.”
He concluded his statement by suggesting
that the imprint of the BP oil release will be detectable for the
rest of his life, to which he then stated his current age of 58.
Professor Emeritus Overton
just yesterday to the
project impact crew that,
“you have… weathered oil on the
beaches. Storms can whip [oil] up as an aerosol and can spread
In another meeting by the Gulf Oil Spill
and Seafood Safety Government Panel, the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) admits it is NOT testing for mercury arsenic,
or other toxic heavy metals in seafood despite giving the ok the
fisheries to continue distribution to seafood wholesalers and
Scientists from both the Environmental
Protection Agency and the FDA said they are confident that seafood
coming from the newly opened areas of the gulf is safe to eat.
Testing for hydrocarbons and residuals
from the 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersants used to break
up the oil showed no dangerous contaminants, they said.
Angered by claims from state and federal officials that Gulf Coast
waters are safe and clean, fishermen took their own samples of the
waters off of Pass Christian, Mississippi on August 11th, 2010.
The testing method was a simple tie an absorbent rag to a weighted
hook which was then dropped overboard for a minute or two.
but one of the samples, the rags came up with brown oily substance
which the fishermen identify as a mix of crude oil from the BP
disaster and toxic dispersants proving that much of the claims made
by BP and government agencies regarding the disappearance of crude
oil are unreliable.
Scientists are also on high alert now
confirmed shutdown of the Gulf loop current which is
now confirmed and correlated to the biochemical and physical action
of the BP oil spill on the Gulf stream.
The shutdown of the current not only
influences the strength of hurricanes but the climate of the entire
In mid July
millions of fish and other water life were found
dead, floating down four major rivers in the Eastern department of
Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The media initially announced that about
1 million fish had died, then raised that number to about 6 million
several days later. Not a word of this was stated in
Scientists are frantically assessing the cause and examining
everything from pollution to abrupt cooling off the coast of South
USF marine scientists conducting experiments in an area where they
previously found clouds of oil have now discovered what appears to
be oil in the sediment of a vital underwater canyon and evidence
that the oil has become toxic to critical marine organisms, the
college reported last Tuesday.
In preliminary results, the scientists aboard the Weatherbird II
discovered that oil droplets are scattered on sediment in the DeSoto
Canyon, a critical spawning ground for commercially important fish
species about 40 miles southeast of Panama City.
The oil isn’t spread across the sandy bottom like a blanket,
explained David Hollander. Instead, when the scientists shined
ultraviolet light on the sediment samples, it picked up lots of dots
from tiny oil droplets.
USF’s scientists also found that the oil droplets were toxic to some
phytoplankton, microscopic plants that form the base of the gulf’s
food chain, as well as some bacteria. The oil doesn’t accumulate
within the plankton, but rather kills it.
If the droplets wipe out enough
phytoplankton, it could alter the
food supply for larger creatures such as fish and crabs in the same
way a cattle pasture that loses all its grass alters the food supply
for steak fans.
Stephen Mottram estimates that if there is as little as a 20%
reduction in phytoplankton populations, a catastrophic sequence of
global cooling would occur.
“…this will cause a cascade of
phenomenon that will eventually affect almost every organism in
the world… climate would inevitably change globally as
reductions in phytoplankton would directly influence temperate
climates causing them to shift to cooler temperatures.”
Mottram’s primary concern is that the
increased number of dead zones in the Gulf will spread to the entire
Atlantic ocean and beyond in due time.
“It is a literal poisoning and
suffocation of the ocean and all marine life. Once nutrient
cycling slows down or comes to a halt for the primary producers,
more than 90% of marine life will die and the consequences to
all mammals (including humans) will be devastating.”
Many findings are highlighting the
persistent concerns that spraying chemical dispersants deep beneath
the water’s surface may have created a greater peril for the gulf
and its marine life.
Rather than rising to the top of the gulf, where the water is warm
and deterioration and evaporation are rapid, the oil spread through
colder waters where it has persisted.
At this point, no one knows how long it will take for the oil to
deteriorate so that it is no longer toxic. However, Hollander said,
recent studies have found indications that the rate is “orders of
magnitude slower” in the colder, deeper parts of the gulf.
In hindsight, Hollander said,
“there’s risks that were taken that
could have been avoided” by not spraying the dispersants
directly at the gushing wellhead.
The amazing thing, he said, is
that the disaster has been going on since April,
“and we’re now
addressing these first-order questions.”
Technically speaking, the disastrous
consequences of the BP oil spill have barely begun. It will take
years before we know the full ecological impact and potentially
catastrophic climate phenomena that will result.
So the next time somebody approaches you
to fill in the blank, please set them straight on the realities of
what we are up against.