Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Loop Current: Stop saying, "So far, the oil remains offshore," as if that makes it better.
The weather service used to say, "The hurricane will pass safely offshore," until they came to realize that hurricanes threatened and in some cases killed professional and recreational seafarers.
Now we hear and read similar statements from broadcasters, journalists, government officials, oil executives and others, who seem to think that as long as we don't see the oil on our coasts everything is better. Well, it isn't. And while I'm not yet ready to join the fatalists and end-of-world theorists and make the claim the spill is a global life altering event I will say that things are not better because the oil has so far been confined to offshore waters. In many ways, not the least of which is because out of sight means out of mind, it's worse. Probably the best thing it could do is land on some nice, pretty, desolate beach somewhere, maybe in front of a bunch of $20 million estates. I'm not looking for payback. I'm just saying, it's better for it to land on a relatively lifeless stretch of sand than for it to stack up on our coral reefs or float endlessly in the nutrient rich currents offshore.
Meanwhile, if the slick is threatening to get into the famous loop current, why can't we engage large oil recovery vessels (OSRVs) to intercept it? It would seem to me that once the slick gets into a substantial and predictable offshore current, it's almost as if it is being pumped naturally. We should take advantage of this natural pumping action and deploy OSRVs to intercept the oil in the current, not write it off as a too-late-now scenario.