Saturday, July 31, 2010

The case of the "Missing" Gulf Oil

“A firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” is the definition my dictionary gives me for faith. Faith can take many forms, but given that no one alive has ever seen a free market in order to gauge the effectiveness of it, it is as much a leap of faith for believers in the free market, such as I, as any belief in deity.

For many libertarians, it seems there is a difficult time distinguishing between a free market and, in our instance, corporatism/fascism. Free market principles are often defended even though there simply is no free market, particularly when, as Mussolini defined his model, corporate power merges with state power, and especially when the corporate is above the state. The military industrial complex controls "Defense". Big pharma runs our healthcare. Big agra runs controls the USDA and the EPA. Oil and natural gas control energy. And all under the umbrella of private banksters, who control Treasury. For many, these facts are obvious, and yet for some reason I cannot fathom, only the State side of the equation is scrutinized, while corporate, presumably in defense of this never-witnessed free market, is defended almost to the death (of credibility).

Most libertarians recognize the corporate media has become nothing more than the propaganda arm of the State, and yet, in defense of an oil company – BP – and its right to develop resources for the benefit of civilization, they have embraced media reports ludicrously claiming after 100 days of massive oil leakage, no one can find the oil, so it must not be there. It is not privileged information that BP, as well as our own Coast Guard, sprayed many millions of gallons of toxic dispersants, most infamous the “corexit” variety, into the gulf to disperse the oil below the surface where it could not be seen. To any objective observer, and to whistleblowers within their own ranks, BP’s goal was to cover up the disaster, not to clean it up. And this is the point of the dispersant. Rather than eliminate the oil entirely, it prevents the oil from collecting in huge pools on the surface where it is visible. Out of sight, out of mind, in other words.

And yet fluff piece after fluff piece ran, from Time Magazine to Vanity Fair to Associated Press, taunting the devastated residents of the region that there was no oil, and that the disaster was overblown. And yet, knowing for a fact that the media does little else but lie, otherwise intelligent people thumped their chests as if they had won some sort of great victory because no one could find the oil, as if they’d never heard of corexit, or that it had been dumped in the Gulf by the millions of gallons. Of these fluff pieces, only the AP article mentions dispersants, and only to suggest that these highly toxic chemicals may have aided oil-eating microbes in cleaning up the oil. No word of course is mentioned on its effects on everyone else who is not an oil consuming microbe.

Over at Lew Rockwell.com, barely a day goes by without someone (usually Rockwell) cheering on the supposed non-catastrophe. My ire began to rise initially when he featured an article describing oozing oil to be as natural as sunshine. Yes, oil does seap into the Gulf of Mexico naturally, but, also taking into account that this was an eruption, not a “seap”, mercury is also natural. So are noxious gases, which comprise of 40% of what was gushing from the well, but you wouldn't want to go breathe the air on Uranus. In their zeal to defend the free market from perceived State persecution, as if anything will be done to punish those who were in fact criminally negligent, it seems that common sense has been completely abandoned.

Of course the disaster was overstated, says Rockwell this week in response to a Slate article which of course says not one single word about dispersants or corexit. It’s as if they never existed. Charles Featherstone later replies to Rockwell’s blurb, “I’ve long believed the greatest tragedy of the whole Deepwater Horizon disaster has been the sheer amount of crude oil that has been wasted.” Now I understand where people might think libertarians are heartless. And Tom DiLorenzo can only muster outrage at the fact that Obama is referred to as “President” while Rush Limbaugh is referred to as “the obnoxious anti-environmentalist”. Someone needs to reconsider their priorities, perhaps starting with reconsidering why any libertarian would care how disgusting neocon Limbaugh is caricatured in the media.

I can grasp the knee-jerk urge to defend industry against radical environmentalism, which as a rule has nothing to do with environment. But we should not lose sight of our sense of what’s right, and especially not to the point where we are blatantly dishonest. You’d have to live under a rock for the past 100 days not to know about corexit or the dispersants. These are not conspiracy theories confined to alternative media sites; they are the kind of mainstream news stories you can believe because they are too easy to verify independently (unlike reports that the disaster was overblown). We know they sprayed the corexit, by the millions of gallons. We know that, rather than make the oil disappear – absurd – the purpose of the dispersants is to cause the oil to break apart into small globules and sink under the surface, so it can’t be seen. Thus its function, and BP’s strategy, has not been to clean the oil, but to hide it. This cannot be overstated. And we know that corexit is highly toxic, containing chemicals used in pesticides. Even if you concede that what oil we’ve already seen is all we’re going to have to clean up – and this is a significant amount on its own – how can you gauge the scope of the disaster without accounting for the dispersants, especially after barely 100 days?

Already we have seen unusual anomalies occur in the region. Crops in the Gulf region are suffering from mysterious diseases since the spill occurred. Clean-up workers have reported becoming extremely sick, some bleeding from their rectums. Oil and dispersants are being found under the shells of Gulf shellfish. And finally, Hugh Kaufman, who helped expose the EPA cover up of the air quality at Ground Zero in the wake of 9-11, which caused many thousands of people to become deathly ill, tells us how the oil is not gone but is lurking in plumes miles below the surface (which is the purpose of the dispersants), and the dispersants have poisoned the entire Gulf region:

Irregardless of all these facts, it is ludicrous and blatantly disingenuous to question, after such a short period of time, whether the oil leak has been overblown. And yet, to top everything off, Rockwell features on today's edition an article from the Daily Mail absurdly claiming that the oil has either been skimmed off the surface or has dispersed naturally. No word about dispersants or corexit (that would suggest that the oil dispersed unnaturally, so, uhh, naturally they would want to omit that little item from their fluff piece). Is Rockwell turning into what he claims to hate - a media figure who shills for corporatism? Is it an instinctive blind defense of the free market? Is it some childish urge to flick his nose at radical environmentalists who want to abolish industry and push humanity back into the Stone Age? Or has he just simply fallen out of his tree?

Knowing that corexit and dispersants are highly toxic, and knowing they were dumped by the millions of gallons into the gulf, and knowing people are already suffering the effects of these toxins, just as the cleanup crews of the Exxon Valdez spill did decades ago, it is reckless to say with authority (of course!) that this is over, that it’s not as bad as they said it would be, and it is gutless and cruel to say the biggest catastrophe is the sheer amount of oil lost – ie cannot be consumed for profit. People who only tell half the truth are perhaps more dangerous than those who lie constantly; at least you know when the liars are lying.