Contests: Name the BP oil disaster and write Obama’s ‘pivot’ speech to the climate and clean energy jobs bill

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"Contests: Name the BP oil disaster and write Obama’s ‘pivot’ speech to the climate and clean energy jobs bill"

In my post last night, I noted that  many people are expecting the President to pivot from the BP oil disaster to the climate and clean energy bill.  But how exactly should he do that rhetorically?  I’m writing a piece on that subject and would love to hear your thoughts.

Also, I have been mostly calling the unfolding disaster in the Gulf the “BP oil disaster,” which certainly beats the President’s “BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.”  Guest blogger Dominique Browning has some  thoughts about the name and messaging below.  Again, I’d love to hear your ideas.

As a professional editor, I’ve always paid close attention to words. Now that I’m writing regularly about climate change, I’m even more attentive to the language people use in engaging with this subject. It’s rife with jargon, rhetoric and innuendo–handy tools that environmentalists could use more adeptly. These days I’m focused on naming names.

A scan online of news and blog headlines shows that we–editors and writers and, for that matter, politicians and environmentalists–are all over the place in giving a name to this disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The New York Times is calling it the Gulf oil spill; others refer to the Gulf crisis or the BP spill. Environmentalists are in danger of missing the chance to give this gusher a name that will stick in the historical record. That would be a shame, because this event could alter our collective awareness of the grave danger we are facing.

It is time to settle on a name. If you think this is irrelevant, consider, for instance, the Exxon Valdez. Notice how every single time that spill comes up (with great regularity these days, as it is dawning on us just how bad things are in the Gulf) the name of the culprit is attached. That’s perfect. We should be reminded of the perpetrators of environmental catastrophe.

The only people who have settled on the terms with which they are discussing (or not) this disaster are the folks at BP. Why do you think they keep pushing the name Deepwater Horizon into the conversation? Whoever heard of that company before? Note that Wikipedia has now listed this disaster as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, with secondary reference to it as the BP oil spill. Wonder how that happened? (An example of innuendo, but I do wonder”¦.)

BP doesn’t want to own this problem. They just leased it. But we don’t have to buy that. We need a name that eternally links BP with the Gulf–because BP is responsible. And we need a much stronger word than spill. Before much longer, we’ll be wishing a spill is all we were facing. This is a gusher with no known end.

Speaking of rhetoric, by the way, when trying to persuade people that global warming is a crisis, all reference to “grandchildren” is unnecessary and inaccurate. This is a threat to you and your children; the problem isn’t a generation away. It is happening now. As usual, the “I don’t believe in global warming” crowd is better at defining the terms of the argument. (What argument? Well, they’ve created one, simply by using that phrase.) Just look at the idea embedded in the word “belief”. Belief, of course, has nothing to do with science. But it perfectly captures the margins of skeptical thinking that are always, and necessarily, at play among scientists–captures them, and co-opts them, with a spiritual twist.

Environmentalists who want to join the public debate effectively have to name problems accurately, and find the most persuasive, honest and durable ways to talk about them. And stick with the terms until the terms stick. If we don’t do that, we are going to get caught in tricky, unpredictable, and endless currents. Just like the oil from the 2010 BP-Gulf Gusher. And yes, hyphens matter too.

Guest blogger Dominique Browning writes a column called PERSONAL NATURE for the Environmental Defense Fund website. Her new book is SLOW LOVE: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, & Found Happiness. She blogs at SLOWLOVELIFE.com

As  I noted last night, it is time for the president to reframe the energy debate, as many have begged him to do (see “Is Obama blowing his best chance to shift the debate from the dirty, unsafe energy of the 19th century to the clean, safe energy of the 21st century?” and Video: Robert Redford tells President Obama it’s time to lead “America on a path to cleaner, safer energy”).

The public  is certainly craving leadership Obama’s campaign pollster: “In the aftermath of the oil spill disaster, voters overwhelmingly support a comprehensive clean energy bill”¦. Voters understand the dangers of our dependence on oil. Now, they’re ready to hold Congress accountable.”

Even the uber-insiders at Politico point out it’s time for “President Obama to seize control of a deteriorating narrative. One solution: Step up in a bigger way on his promise to deliver comprehensive energy legislation, by reframing the debate over the spill from “who’s at fault” to “how we fix this problem in the long run.” Moving in this direction would shift the conversation away from a situation over which they have no control, to a key administration priority and a legislative debate that they can shape and drive.”

Some commenters think the pivot is tricky in the face of this unfolding disaster.  How would you do it?

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95 Responses to Contests: Name the BP oil disaster and write Obama’s ‘pivot’ speech to the climate and clean energy jobs bill

  1. Wit's End says:

    Compare the visible oil destroying the Gulf environment to the invisible gases destroying the climate from burning fuel. They are mirror images and it’s a perfect link to illustrate why we need to switch to clean energy. Also important is the corporate malfeasance. Obama should make it really clear that corporations care only about profits, they use those profits to influence public opinion and lobby legislators. Their best interest is not the environment’s or the public’s.

    For a name?

    I think one of the reasons a name hasn’t stuck yet is nobody has been sure how bad it is going to get. You couldn’t call it an ecological catastrophe from the beginning because if it had turned out to be less than that, you’d look alarmist.

    Now, it is obvious that spill is inadequate to describe the destruction. Agreed, BP should be part of the name. I’m trying to think of something that will convey with sufficient drama the loss of the wetlands ecosystem. It’s a project!

  2. paulm says:

    Quite surprised by this. Worth bearing in mind for this exercise…

    The real Climategate
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/polluted-by-profit-johann-hari-on-the-real-climategate-1978770.html

    Global warming – and the worst environmental disasters – will only be tackled when green lobbyists in the US stop taking cash from Big Oil and Big Coal

  3. Leland Palmer says:

    About the name, dunno. BP oil disaster sounds pretty good to me. It may end up being called the Deepwater Horizon Blow-out, because 60 Minutes has done a segment on it, and called it that. The MSM often seems to be the definitive namer of events and yes, this should make us wary because of the immense corporate connections of the MSM.

    About the pivot, just tell the truth.

    Fossil fuels are producing CO2 which is warming the planet, and this warming could pass tipping points and become uncontrollable. Oil is increasingly difficult and risky to procure, and even if we do procure it we warm the earth by burning it. We can expect more BP Oil Disasters in the future, no matter how well we regulate, because of the strange and risky environment that oil producers must operate in a mile under the surface of the ocean.

    We must wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, including petroleum and coal, and do so as quickly as possible. We must investigate the practicality of carbon capture and storage, and the practicality of combining carbon capture and storage with biomass sources of fuel to actively put carbon back underground.

    We have many challenges to face, but America has never been a country that avoids taking on challenges or that depends on others to lead the way.

  4. s. wing says:

    The Brown Pelican oil spill.

  5. 'nother editor says:

    Just call it the BP disaster. Can be used w/modifiers, i.e., the ongoing BP disaster, BP disaster in the gulf, BP disaster of 2010. Easy to type, easy to Google and it might also make itself into a nifty Google bomb wherein disaster=BP.

  6. Leif says:

    BP-MESS… BP-Monster Ejaculate S**t Storm.

  7. s. wing says:

    The BP “not me” oil spill.

    The deep sea BP “not me” oil spill.

  8. mike roddy says:

    BP Gulf Explosion.

    This is from your President:

    “Three generations ago, President Roosevelt united this country to fight against fascism. All over America, people turned in any scrap metal they could find. No cars were built, and the auto factories produced tanks. Victory came in only four years, because nothing can stop a united and galvanized America.

    “Two generations ago, President Kennedy challenged Americans to work to put a man on the moon, an idea that appeared impossible to many. Less than a decade later, men walked the moon, causing people the world over to marvel with wonder at what humans could achieve.

    “Today, our challenge is just as big, and the consequences of failure may well be more catastrophic. We have to stop depending on fossil fuels to produce electricity and power our vehicles. It’s time we harnessed the genius and imagination that is found throughout America so that our country runs on fuel that is clean, safe, and limitless. The explosion off our shores in the Gulf confirmed what many of us already had sensed.

    “Our best scientists and engineers are making breakthroughs on clean energy every week, with help from dedicated people from all over the world. The spirit of cooperation and the absolute dedication to achieve this have been inspiring to observe.

    “We can accomplish this, and soon. Many more net jobs will be produced. We won’t need to consider sending troops abroad to protect energy sources. The air will be cleaner, and the looming danger of runaway warming will be addressed. Americans will stand united, with the lone exceptions of those in the fossil fuel industries who want to continue to sell us their products.

    “There’s no question that we can do it, because we’re doing it right now, in the Mojave desert, on the plains of Texas, and in vibrant component factories in Michigan.

    “We need small sacrifices from you, my fellow Americans. You may have to pay a little more for electricity for a while. Your cars may become a little smaller and more inconvenient, until the new fuel infrastructure is fully operative. You may find yourself needing to use less paper and wood, as our great North American forests begin to restore their great historic ability to breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.

    “Life will be better after we accomplish these changes, but we must get under way now, in a serious and committed way. The government can’t do this alone. I ask for your help and your commitment.

  9. Jeff Huggins says:

    A Trout in the Milk

    Henry David Thoreau observed, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

    Now, I don’t know what to call the BP Blowup, Boondoggle, and Bewilderment. That’s not the focus of this comment. Call it something that we should have expected all along, if you like, and that we should continue to expect unless we change our ways. Instead, I’m mainly interested in the speech that Obama ought to give.

    So, back to the trout in the milk …

    How many “trouts in the milk” do we need to see in order to realize that change is necessary?

    We have oil in the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico. We know that we are sending boatloads of money, every day, overseas for oil. We know that oil is not a replenishing and sustainable resource. We know that fossil fuels put immense amounts of CO2 in the air, altering and destabilizing the climate. We know that a healthy future calls for clean energy and that transitioning to clean energy will create huge numbers of jobs and make us more technologically competitive.

    At this point, we not only have a trout in the milk, but also a salmon, a halibut, a whale, and even a crab that’s gonna pinch us on the nose unless we wake up to the facts!

    Here is a great quote from George Orwell:

    “We have sunk so low it has become the obligation of every decent, thinking individual to re-state the obvious!”

    In my view, only a person with his head in the sand would not be able to see all these “trouts in the milk”. And what part of the body shows, and “shines”, when we put our heads in the sand? I’ll just say, it’s not the most pretty part.

    Perhaps President Obama should consider using the Thoreau quote. If we don’t see the “trouts in the milk” — the clear signs that change is necessary — then what does that say about ourselves? We, and the U.S., are better than that! We didn’t land on the Moon by ignoring that it was there. We didn’t invent computer chips by pretending that the world consists of fire, wind, earth, and water and by ignoring modern science. America wasn’t “discovered” by people who were afraid to discover it. We face and embrace scientific understanding and the future, we don’t flee from them and put our heads in the sand!

    The signs are here, staring us in the face. Trouts in the milk all around us. Will we ignore them, or will we face and embrace, and author, the future?

    Sigh,

    Jeff

  10. paulm says:

    How bout The Black Goo Disaster.

    We were desperate for home oil – now we got it, pouring in through the front door (or is that the back door). This is going to be one of the disasters of the century, unfortunately.

    Maybe, though, in the bigger picture it will help in the fight against GW.

    The black hole at the bottom of the Gulf
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-black-hole-at-the-bottom-of-the-gulf-1980693.html

    …scientists revise upward their guesstimates of the daily spill of crude into the sea (with some putting it as high as 3 Million gallons a day)

  11. Leif says:

    Paulm, #1: Good link. I was motivated to send a letter and link to my local chapter of Sierra Club.

    Good to see that the “Center for Biological Diversity” is clean.

  12. Jim Edelson says:

    BP Rupture in the Gulf

    will eventually evolve to

    the BP Rupture

  13. Brewster says:

    ‘nother editor:

    I LIke BP Disaster – short, to the point, and leaves little doubt as to where the problem lies.

    Easy to add on simple words too – BP Oil Disaster, BP Gulf Disaster, BP Regulations Disaster…

  14. fj2 says:

    The BP oil disaster my well prove to be one of the factors leading to a “beyond petroleum” tipping point.

  15. john atcheson says:

    Wait a minute — when the problem is oil, writ large, why not use a term that indicts oil? Is it OK if the rest of the oil companies come off unscathed by this hellish disaster?

    Is our goal to vilify BP, or get off oil?

    Look, as we drill deeper and deeper, we will get more and more spills because the pressure gradients go up with depth. More pressure, harder to contain, harder to contain, more blowouts. It’s that simple.

    Shouldn’t the name indict the entire practice of drilling offshore and the use of oil in general?

    I’d opt for something like: The “latest inevitable off shore blowout,” the “latest off shore disaster, forced by our dependence on …” etc. Long, but you get the idea.

  16. jcwinnie says:

    What, Dominatrix? You want all of us working for BP now?

  17. Raul says:

    BP takes great strides to NEVER.
    From the start of Burning wood some would know that the fireplace would need to be cleaned.
    It’s not just BP that has taken to trip to NEVER. We as a society explore
    NEVER, never we know the truth only to hope that we can be lead to or lead.

  18. DavidCOG says:

    Calling it the ‘BP anything’ is a distraction from core problem: drilling for oil in the ocean. All the focus on what BP did or didn’t do just removes heat from all the other fossil companies who were just lucky it wasn’t their logo on the side of the drill rig.

    ‘The Gulf Apocalypse’ seems reasonable.

  19. Bob Wallace says:

    If you want to change a behavior it is much, much easier if you have an acceptable, functional behavior to take its place.

    Preaching against coal or oil and asking people to cut their use is going to be less effective if you are asking people to downsize their lifestyles.

    If you can point out the dangers of extracting and burning coal and at the same time point to existing wind/solar/geothermal/storage facilities that are fully capable of replacing coal then people will be more willing to move away from coal.

    If you can point out the dangers of extracting and burning oil and at the same time point to existing EVs/PHEVs that are fully capable of replacing ICE vehicles then people will be more willing to move away from oil.

    Show people that they can not only cut greenhouse emissions and other environmental/health damages but save money by simply changing the ways they now live their lives. With no negative impact to their lives.

    Make it a multi-media presentation. Show large wind farms in the background. Show Raccoon Mountain pump-up storage. Show people the Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF, Coda, Tesla Type S. Show them the monthly heating bills for two side-by-side cookie-cutter houses, one which has had a energy conservation refit and the other not.

    Give people a positive direction in which to proceed, not just a scare session….

  20. fj2 says:

    It is long overdue that capital rich insurance, finance, and oil industries rethink their business models to cease advocacy of wasteful “burning petroleum” transportation and other heavy industries much better repurposed for direct human needs and environmental restoration.

    These capital rich industries must be seeking out areas to invest their tremendous resources in new ways to light-weight build the world of the future with scale-appropriate investments and government partnerships in the technologies and human capital sufficient to save civilization as we know it.

  21. Todd Tanner says:

    The BP Oil Blight

  22. Steve L says:

    BP = below prevention
    BP = beyond punishment
    BP = bent priorities

  23. Walter Miale says:

    You already said it, Joe: The Gulf Oil Volcano.

    It’s probably worth sacrificing the “BP” in the name.

  24. Wit's End says:

    Thanks, Leif, I missed that paulm (#2) link and it is excellent.

    Bob Wallace, I do think it’s wonderful to point out clean alternatives to dirty energy, and money-saving efficiency. But that simply isn’t enough to persuade people to make fundamental changes, because in order to do so, it must first be admitted that there is a Problem. And there’s the rub. People who cling to the idea of endless growth cannot admit there is a Problem, and so even taking rational steps to conserve energy that would save them money become impossible. Au contraire, they willfully and deliberately and unnecessarily squander energy. Take Christmas lights for an example, who really needs them? It is a kind of defiance.

    The fact is, the American life-style is going to change whether we do so deliberately, or it just happens – like it is happening in the gulf right now.

    It’s an issue that needs to be addressed directly. The approach you recommend I liken to offering extra fresh fruit and vegetables to an overweight diabetic who is about to have a Happy Meal and expect them to lose weight. It’s not going to happen. You have to explain that they need to cut down on the Mac and fries or they are going to have a heart attack and die.

    You have to scare them.

  25. Bruce says:

    Is “Deepwatergate” too cute a moniker?

  26. Chris Dudley says:

    BP’s Bane?

    Drilling’s Death?

    The Last Oil Spill?

    I like those names.

  27. Leland Palmer says:

    It’s a good point, about whether we want to demonize BP or question the safety of deep water drilling.

    I was willing to give BP the benefit of the doubt, and blame Transocean and Halliburton, but it appears that a BP executive engaged in a head butting contest with Transocean on the day before the disaster, and insisted on relying on the concrete plugs without an infusion of drilling mud while the well was being capped, according to this 60 Minutes story.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6490348n&tag=related;photovideo

    Part 2:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6490378n&tag=contentMain;contentAux

    So, it appears that BP did interfere with TransOcean’s decisions, to cut costs.

    Most laboratory accidents are created by a series of events, each a little careless but not disastrous in itself, triggered by a final dumb move or sheer chance into an accident. Perhaps oil drilling accidents are similar- a series of events, which defeat safety systems designed to prevent accidents. And, no technological system can defeat capitalist cost cutting measures and ignorant outsiders interfering with operations.

    Transocean was operating in a risky manner, ignoring the problems with the blow out preventer, according to the 60 Minutes story, but relying on drilling mud as their first line of defense against a blow-out.

    Then BP came along and removed the drilling mud, over-ruling the experienced people on the scene.

    60 Minutes is a MSM outlet, and has a possible motive to pin the disaster on BP, and so benefit American corporations as opposed to foreign ones. BP is the biggest oil producer in the U.S., and it may be that the oil giants like ExxonMobil look at BP’s oil leases and oil discoveries as valuable properties. It may be that the oil giants like ExxonMobil would love nothing better than if Congress was to take BP’s oil leases away from them and award them to ExxonMobil and Chevron/Texaco, among others.

    Watching the videos, it does appear that 60 Minutes is pushing very, very hard on the “BP is responsible” conceptual frame.

    Transocean damaged the blow-out preventer, according to 60 minutes, and ignored the damage. Halliburton’s concrete plugs failed, possibly due to the presence of methane hydrates. And then BP apparently demanded that the closure of the well be done without the hole being full of drilling mud, according to one survivor of the disaster.

    The overall culprit may be a combination of greed for fossil fuels, oil being increasingly hard to produce, and capitalist cost cutting.

    Perhaps we should call this the Gulf Oil Disaster, and leave BP’s name out of it.

  28. Wit's End says:

    I’m sorry Bruce, there are too many gates already – 161 and counting! Baron von Monkhofen shrewdly suggests that in deference to the famous episode at Waterloo, we embrace instead the suffix ” – loo” as in “climate-loo.” That would leave us with BP-Spilloo, perhaps.
    http://theclimatescum.blogspot.com/

  29. Daniel Hildreth says:

    Regarding the pivot, I agree with Leland Palmer–just tell the truth. President Obama needs to make the connection between burning fossil fuels and the impact of increasing atmospheric CO2, and convey that we are in an extremely dangerous situation. I think one of the main problems with the campaign for a climate bill is we have shied away from effectively communicating the science to the public. (NAS reports are vital, but don’t get you very far in terms of public communication.)

    My father has believed that global warming is happening for quite some time, but I had been having a hard time convincing him of the urgency of the need for a bill. I showed him the chart of ice core data (from Hell and High Water) of global temperatures superimposed on CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and he got it in about ten minutes. The key pieces were (1) the correlation of CO2 and temperature, (2) the climate swings over the past 400,000 years, (3) that agriculture, cities, and the global economy emerged during a relatively unusual 11,000-year period of stability, and (4) most importantly, where atmospheric CO2 levels are now in comparison to the past 400,000 years.

    This is part of what the President needs to explain to the public. He could certainly do it effectively. The economic and security benefits of acting remain important to the message, but I believe a good, accessible explanation of the science has been missing and could be the key to getting the public to accept the need for action.

  30. mike roddy says:

    Note about my Obama speech suggestion: It was a fantasy, which could come true only if the president either embarks on a deep inner journey or harnesses his obvious intelligence.

    This ain’t happening so far. A few days ago the president stated that he wanted the Gulf blowout commission to make it easier to expand drilling in the Gulf in the future. Huh?

    Maybe Obama thinks the Gulf residents are hillbillies who are going to vote Republican anyway. To him, this means it’s OK to make the region an ecological sacrifice zone, as in Appalachia, the East Texas oil fields, and the forests of Tennessee and Oregon.

    We haven’t heard much yet from the residents of the Gulf Coast who are about to see their land and water ruined. Maybe they are the ones who can turn the tide, and not sell out as their countrymen in Alaska did.

  31. Bob Wallace says:

    Wit’s –

    “The approach you recommend I liken to offering extra fresh fruit and vegetables to an overweight diabetic who is about to have a Happy Meal and expect them to lose weight.”

    No, the approach I recommend it setting up a healthy food counter next to the Happy Meal counter, a counter which offers even tastier food, with better toys, for the same price.

    An acceptable, even desirable alternative.

    That old Calvinistic way of trying to change behavior by scaring the hell out of people is just not very successful….

  32. Bob Wallace says:

    Mike –

    “Maybe Obama thinks the Gulf residents are hillbillies who are going to vote Republican anyway. To him, this means it’s OK to make the region an ecological sacrifice zone, as in Appalachia, the East Texas oil fields, and the forests of Tennessee and Oregon.”

    You really have not bothered to take measure of the man in our White House, have you?

    Why else would you post an untruth such as…

    “A few days ago the president stated that he wanted the Gulf blowout commission to make it easier to expand drilling in the Gulf in the future. Huh?”

    When this is what President Obama actually said…

    “But we also need to take a comprehensive look at how the oil and gas industry operates and how we regulate them. That is why, on Friday, I signed an executive order establishing the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. While there are a number of ongoing investigations, including an independent review by the National Academy of Engineering, the purpose of this Commission is to consider both the root causes of the disaster and offer options on what safety and environmental precautions we need to take to prevent a similar disaster from happening again.”

  33. Raul says:

    NEVER
    Never before have such disasters been cleaned up.
    Never before have Gulf residents had to be so understanding of others
    needs and so little to give but spoiled nature.
    Never has the Gulf of Mexico had so little to give to child who just
    wanted to live with nature. Yes we should point to the good that we are doing.

  34. This bird is definitely Beyond Petroleum: http://bit.ly/BeyPetr

  35. mike roddy says:

    Bob Wallace, #36:

    Obama also said that the Commissions’s report would clear up uncertainties and could strengthen the case for more drilling offshore. Sorry, I don’t have the link- but statements from the White House, especially from Gibbs, have been unwavering in continued support for offshore drilling, including in new areas such as the Eastern Gulf and the Arctic.

    Salazar, an oil guy, was the first point man on safety. Now Obama has appointed a Republican co chair for the Commission investigating the Gulf. At least a partial whitewash, or the classic split-the-difference again, is likely.

    Meanwhile, scientists and engineers I know say that the BP explosion was an accident waiting to happen, and part of a pattern in the Gulf. Deep water, extreme complexity, and the nature of hydraulic systems are all factors. You can add to that the pathological greed of companies like BP, Halliburton, and Exxon, and include much more than a dash of influence in the White House.

    You implied in your post that I was being dishonest, and this is neither correct nor appreciated.

  36. Doug Gibson says:

    Chernoilbyl.

    Or, if you insist, The BP Chernoilbyl.

  37. Mark Shapiro says:

    The Johann Hari piece, via paulm @ comment #2, is shocking, illuminating, and deeply concerning. Have some of my favorite environmental and conservation groups been corrupted by oil and coal money?

    At least it sheds light on the offsets debate — and puts offsets in an even worse light. I hope that at least one of the groups can come clean — stop taking oil and coal money, and even more important, tell us exactly how that money influenced them.

  38. sarah says:

    I like Dominique’s BP-Gulf Gusher or Joe’s B oil disaster. Of course, if either catch on BP may simply change its name (remember Blackwater anyone?).

    This distaster highlights the short-term dangers of the petroleum economy; very few media sources are making the link between this gusher the bigger long-term crisis.

    It is more essential to convince people of the need for legislation than the need to change their lifestyles. The problem with lifestyle changes is that while some might make a superficial effort, only a few can or will do anything that can significantly impact the climate crisis. Most people do not have the means to even assess what actions are beneficial, even if they are willing to make a big investment. (What is the tradeoff in installing an expensive geothermal furnace that will reduce my oil use but increasemy use of electricity, which comes from coal? Should I swap a 10-year old car that gets 36 mpg for a newly manufactured electric one?)

    Very few will do things that are uncomfortable or inconvienient for themselves in order to benefit others who are not making those efforts, especially over the long term. So, it is essential to change the structure of the system to drive peoples’ personal decisions in directions that match the needs of the planet. E.g. make mass transit fast, inexpensive, and efficient, and cars inconvenient and expensive, especially in cities.

    None of us can individually conjure up a national rail system or local mass transit into existence, incintivize a smart grid and solar infrastructure, or impose green bulding statndards. Weatherizing my house is fine, but the impact can only come but doing 100s. We can only do these things by collective, i.e. political action.

  39. Wit's End says:

    Bob W., not to quibble, but we posited more or less the same scenario. My contention is that the person will not make the wise choice even when it is presented to them, if the unwise choice is loaded with salt, fat, and sugar (or is fast, fun, and convenient, like a fossil-fuel-powered appliance or vehicle) – unless they understand the consequences of the stupid choice.

    In my local grocery store strip mall, a design your own salad fast-food restaurant opened up a few doors down for the McD’s. You could go to the counter, choose from a mix of lettuces, and then add in whatever items you desired from a huge selection. They also had healthy sandwiches. And it was cheap! I was so excited.

    They closed up shop last week and the McD’s is still there.

  40. Leif says:

    Mike, #37:…. “the BP explosion was an accident waiting to happen, and part of a pattern in the Gulf. Deep water, extreme complexity, and the nature of hydraulic systems are all factors.”

    Another major contributer to the BP-MESS is the fact that we the public get to eat the major portion of the mitigation bill. As it stands there is no economic downside to the negligence. Oil companies pay off a small deductible and then get full employment attempting “clean up.” “Clean up” should not even be used in this debacle as there is NO CLEAN UP possible just assorted degrees of sweeping all under the rug.

    On a side note: Why does BP still insist that their “Dispersant” is the proper one for deep water? Could it be that it is not in fact a “dispersant” but a method to change the specific gravity of the oil and thus cause the eruption to stratify below the surface at thermal clines or pressure gradients? Thus causing the massive sub surface “oil clouds” reported but not seen. It is after all their preparatory formula. Out of sight, out of mind.

  41. deepsouthdoug says:

    The BP Dead Sea

  42. mike roddy says:

    I agree, Leif, BP is entirely too tight with this Administration.

    Swartzenegger immediately suspended offshore drilling plans in the Pacific after the Gulf blowout. That should have been Obama’s response, instead of issuing 27 more permits after the blowout occurred.

  43. For now: “Gushing Gulf.” In the future, and hopefully sooner than later, the “Gulf Gusher.” Whatever it is called, people will associate “oil” and “BP” with this disaster. How can we not? Take 911 for example. People don’t say “Al Qaeda 911″ or “New York 911″ or “World Trade Center 911.” We simply say “911” and we know how Al Qaeda fits into the picture. We know where it happened. It’s an example of effective branding that I wish did not exist, just like the Gushing Gulf. I wish our civilization was not so oil hungry, me included. “Demand for fossil fuels” is the tap I’d like to see us learn how to turn off.

  44. Wit's End says:

    http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/louisiana_coasts_battle_agains.html

    Where this comment is to be found!

    ‘This was NO accident! This is a criminal land grab!

    I spoke to a geologist yesterday that use to work for these cretins. He told me they’ve mapped huge oil deposits under the marshland. THEY WANT US OFF THEIR OIL!!!

    Think about it, for years on end the measures to protect our Delta have been stonewalled no matter which government shill was in office. And since this disaster we have gotten what? Meetings, conferences, photo-ops, huffing and puffing grandstanding, as each day NOTHING gets done and the oil got closer and closer to out shore.

    Does anyone think this to be an accident? Or that this is just government and industry incompetence? This is a PLANNED DISASTER!

    I’m even having my doubts now if the rig wasn’t blown-up intentionally. I would not put it past these cretins, they care not for human life, or life in general.

    They want the land! With the money they can make off being able to drill in places that are now populated by people and animals, they could give a damn if they have to pay us pennies to force us off the land.

    The world is being run by greedy, insane psychopaths! They would risk extinction just to keep their dominance. From the elites down to the bought-off so-called elected officials.

    Well, say good-bye to all that you’ve ever known, you didn’t matter, there’s oil to be drilled.”

  45. catman306 says:

    Everyone’s heard the about fate of Easter Island where the natives cut down the forest to use as rollers to move stone heads around. Imagine the spin from the chief and his men when someone pointed out that there were only 10 trees left. They cut them down anyway and then everyone was stranded, unable to build sea going canoes. Their civilization failed. What kinds of spin can cause otherwise intelligent people to deny the obvious and pursue a path to disaster? Stop the spinning. Only the facts and truth can brake the fossil fuel spin.

  46. mike roddy says:

    From Mary Landrieu:

    “What’s important about this sheen is that 97% of it is a rainbow sheen. Only 3% contains emulsified crude. 97% of it is an extremely thin sheen of relatively light oil on the surface.”

    So much for an awakening in Bayou Country. She wouldn’t talk this bullshit if a lot of people didn’t go for it.

  47. enj says:

    BP has to be held accountable, but we have no reason to believe they were any less responsible than other oil companies in their maintenance practices (or oversight of leased equipment), and in the end, the buck stops here.

    We need more regulation. We need enforcement of existing regulation. We need a distinctly non-cozy relationship between the government and the companies that it’s supposedly monitoring.

    But we’re the ones who use the oil, and sooner or later, the way we use it, this may have been inevitable–systems fail. This is where our thirst for oil has led us, by way of our willingness to be lulled by remarkably small changes in our own behavior. Climate change is both a moral test and a test of our imaginations, and we’ve failed on both counts.

    This should be a watershed…but not just for BP, the oil industry, or Obama.

  48. In 1933 powerful fossil fuel, pharmacutical, and timber/newspaper interests consumated their three year war against Cannabis Sativa L and (industrial hemp), by convincing the “no nothing Congress” to prohibit cultivation of psychoactive Canabis Sativa L. While there was no law prohibiting cultivation of industrial hemp “law enforcers arrested and convicted those who dared continue to grow the crop. During the 2nd WW the Government resumed hemp production for the War effort. After the War,regulations were approved which prohibited its cultivation. Hemp, it was discovered long ago is an excellent, renewable, clean source of energy, and can be used to produce anything that can be produced by fossil fuels.

    In 1943 a young JFK sought approval by the Mass. legislature for funds to construct a wave energy power system in the Passamaquoddy Bay. This too was defeated by the fossil fuel, timber and Newspaper interests. Wave energy was a free sourc, only the generators and grid would bear costs assumed by users. It would have driven down the cost od energy if not completely replaced timber and coal and natural gas.

    These are but two instances where innovation in the energy sector has been scuttled by the legacy fuel profiteers. This is not isolated to the U.S. In Europe, fossil fuel interest spent hundreds of millions denegrating the efficacy of nuclear anergy, and recently have and will continue to spend millions opposing ocean energy.

    The fossil fuel industry also, co-opts new energy industries by buying into and then financially destroying start-ups.

    This familiar, all too brief recitation illustrates the pervasive, global and destructive influence of the fossil fuel industry. It’s not limited to just the damages due to crude oil extraction.

    It’s the entirety of the insidious, systemic, destruction of competition;The unrestrained control and monopolization of hosts of markets and sub-sectors:The unmitigated restraints on trade: And,of course, the cataclysmic cancer devouring the earth’s juices, crippling millions of the world’s citizens through its confiscation of land and water to ensure the parasitic sucking of this juice from every discoverable fissure; And, its carbon footprint, polluting our air, forcing ever higher levels of CO2 and Methane.

    This legacy, this probable future, is all current policy has and can deliver.

    Unless: We recognize that right now, in this present moment, the entire earth is in crisis. We, so consumed with our individual microcosms, have scant time to observe the macrocosm of fossil fuel damages. Nonetheless, a moments reflection steers the mind to awarness that our species is in mortal danger, not in the long run, but rather the very short-run….say a generation.

    The fossil fuel industry consumes enormous amounts of water. All the water we will ever have is already here and being depleted for low priority uses given the scale of priorities for human survival.

    The world’s largest lakes are shrinking, it’s rivers dying, and the aquifier polluted by methane and other chemicals used in the extraction of fossil fuels.

    Who else will recognize this crisis? The President? If so should he not declare a state of emergency? Should he direct the nations energies to the mitigation of the crisis by eliminating the major sources of crisis? Politically, there are suboptimal choices that allow the continuation of the cause of the crisis while moving toward a sustainable energy economy…current policy.

    Clearly then, America needs to recognize that enormous pressure will need to be brought to bear on the President, Congress and elected officials in all political jurisdictions. A tall order. It falls into the category of revolution, even anarchy. Since Reagan dismantled Carter’s solar array we’ve known about the fossil fuel damages. But our cars have become our identity, our rationalization to support the status quo…current policy.

    I fear we will need another BP Oil Extinction to direct our resources to a renewable energy world, if there’s much left by then.

    Yes, let’s call it the BP Oil Extinction

  49. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Catman306 –

    “Everyone’s heard the about fate of Easter Island where the natives cut down the forest to use as rollers to move stone heads around.”

    Regardless of the notionally primitive intellects of the natives, the facts are against your speculation.

    Easter Island is 163 sq.kms in area; positing that 75% of it was forested at the start of the stoneheads’ carving, and that its trees grew at about 7 tonnes/ha/yr (modest for the latitude)
    – then over the 300 years that about 1,000 statues were made and transported, it produced about 25,000 tonnes of trunks per statue.

    I’ve used trunks as rollers under a fishing boat, and the idea of needing even 100 tonnes per statue is non-sensical.

    Plausible culprits worth considering might include serial pyroplastic flows from the (sacred) volcano, and/or substantial felling for lumber (houses, canoes, fences etc) with some herbivore killing the regrowth from the stumps.

    The latter has been the route of most European de-forestation in the last few centuries. Once the roots have rotted the stumps are easily removed to make a decent field.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  50. David Smith says:

    Like the day the music died, maybe the day the platform went into the Gulf will be remembered as the DAY-BP-KILLED-OIL. After that day the arrogance, corruption and the destructiveness of the entire industry could no longer be ignored. The inevitable shift has occurred.

  51. Bill says:

    Here are a few ideas:

    The Gulf Gusher
    Chernobyl in the Gulf
    The BP Blowout
    The Drill Baby Spill
    The Redneck Chernobyl
    America’s Chernobyl
    BP’s Chernobyl
    Oil’s Chernobyl
    Chern-oil-byl
    BP’s Cheroilbyl

  52. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Mike at #39 –

    “. . . statements from the White House, especially from Gibbs, have been unwavering in continued support for offshore drilling, including in new areas such as the Eastern Gulf and the Arctic.”

    Before we judge Obama’s preferences on this, its worth having another look at the DOE graph of oil supply in Joe’s latest post on peak oil.

    It shows supply parting with rising demand at the start of 2012, and falling short by well over a million barrels a day by the year’s end. An oil price spike is thus entirely predictable in that election year, though probably not back as high as $147 in 2008, as the global economy is weaker and will likely crash the sooner.

    Thus if Obama were now to block drilling, rather than stringently transforming its regulation and penalising those personally responsible, he might as well not stand for a second term. Nor, under those circs, would a new democratic candidate have much of a chance against a GOP opponent with such a gift of an issue.

    So we may as well be clear about it. Any banning of offshore drilling would most likely be overturned in January 2013, followed by god knows what other pro-fossil decisions.

    Short of the long-awaited law being passed to declare registered republicans as demonstrably insane, and thus ineligible to vote, the present political reality dictates that the best outcomes of the GOM poisoning are implacable regulation of the industry (oil And gas, offshore And onshore), plus an unprecedented national efficiency drive, plus major support of innovative non-fossil powered transport.

    While the fossil lobby will doubtless have various shills and agents of influence trying to steer the environment community into the dead end of self-defeat by demanding that Obama bans offshore drilling, it is very clear to me that you are not one of them.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  53. Joe says:

    The BP GOM Event or BP GOME

  54. Chris Dudley says:

    Obama Speech if he waits a bit:

    A President’s first job is to be straight with the American people. I can’t defend the Constitution and fulfill my Oath of Office if I can’t be truthful with you, the American people. Over the past months, as we have seen spilled oil wreck the Gulf of Mexico and despoil the Carolina Beaches and even enter the tide waters of America’s River the Potomac which flows through our Nation’s Capitol, we have been horrified by the damage to our Country, its people and its natural beauty and abundance. But even more we have been appalled and ashamed and angered by the evidence of corruption in my administration that clearly contributed to this disaster. This disaster was no accident or act of God. It could have been prevented by my administration simply following the law.

    Instead, bribery and lawlessness prevailed and much is now in ruins. And, from the beginning of my administration, I did not do much to prevent it. I gave the companies that were bribing officials at the MSHA and MMS (how sad it is that I don’t even need to spell out the names of these agencies, their shame has been so much in the news) I gave those companies every encouragement to carry on as they had been doing. Even when I was campaigning, I was happily accepting their money and talking about increased oil drilling and more coal mining. We have seen Cabinet Secretaries resign since and I have accepted their resignations but it was I who should have charged them with rooting out corruption when I appointed them. I didn’t.

    The American People deserve an administration they can trust to deal honestly with everyone and not give advantages in exchange for bribes or even campaign contributions. You have not had that. But, it is still my job to tell you the truth now and I hope you will believe me despite how badly wrong things have gone.

    The truth is using fossil fuels is wrong and we must stop using them. Etc….

  55. Tim Mauseth says:

    My vote goes for a term used on this site, “Oilpocalypse.” Perhaps a little jokey, but appropriate not only to the scale of the current disaster, but also appropriate to an event which could be the beginning of the end of society accepting an industrial system dominated by petroleum.

  56. johna says:

    The well is in MMS designation – Macondo Block 252

    BP’s Monstrous Macondo Mess

  57. mike roddy says:

    Lewis, #60, I respect your opinion, which is interesting, but must disagree.

    Blowouts are not only inevitable in the Gulf, they are relatively common- 18 since 1983. Supporting more offshore rigs is therefore bad policy. 2012 oil supply and Gulf of Mexico aquatic health are unknowns, though I agree oil price spikes are likely.

    If oil prices shoot up, Obama will have looked smart for slowing offshore drilling and making a major push for alternatives, including plug in cars from clean power plants. In any case, making the best decisions are going to be politically profitable in 2012. Maybe I’m overestimating the public, but my sense is that politicians are behind them on all of these issues, as the polls quoted on this blog have confirmed.

    Maybe the best way to defeat Republicans and members of the public who believe both them and the oil companies is to go toe to toe with them. The BP gusher is a direct result of yet one more set of compromises, and if the damage is as bad as many predict, supporters of further drilling are going to be beyond vulnerable in 2012.

  58. johna says:

    Sunday LATimes headline – ‘ Oil spill caused by ‘a confluence of unfortunate events’ -brings this story to mind:

    Lemony Snicket trailer

    At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place. But believe us when we say ‘there is much more good in it than bad.’ And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may, in fact ,be the first steps of a Journey.

    Mr President, here’s a tip from the kids. It’s way past time to start The Journey.

  59. jyyh says:

    “coral/reef/beach blackening” isn’t entirely true and I doubt it fits to the speech of a president. and, muslims think white is the color of sorrow

  60. Roger says:

    I’ll pass on the BP Oil Disaster. But I’ll comment on Obama’s speech.

    Obama and his speech writers need to come up with ‘the mother of all speeches’ to do justice to, and to get the response we need, on climate.

    And, since whatever he says is unlikely to be clearly heard by the misinformed masses, he’ll need to have the best and the brightest on Madison Avenue convert it into clever primetime TV bits, shown as a public information service–like was done for Cold War Civil Defense.

    We’ve been messaging Obama to “educate and lead” on climate for many months by letter, phone call, email–you name it. In fact, if you’ve not yet done so, please see + sign, our ongoing petition to Obama here: http://www.change.org/global_warming_education_network/petitions/view/obama_please_educate_and_lead_on_climate_change.

    So, for my two cents, as some have suggested above, Obama needs to keep it frank, bold, simple, clear and specific. The ‘Frog in the warming pot’ imagery is tried and true.

    I’d also have his speech writers seek to paraphrase appropriate words of wisdom from respected historic figures–possible Franklin, who was known for his wit and wisdom. E.g., “You may delay, but time will not,” could become “America may delay, but the Earth will not.” (Obama could then get into the NEED for us to LEAD!)

    Franklin also said, “Forewarn’d, forearm’d.” This is apropos since, from our research, the vast majority of Americans don’t even BEGIN to understand what is at stake, due to greed-driven fossil fuel propoganda.

    A key role of government has always been to protect its citizens. This protection, through such inventions as radar, has also extended to the concept of alerting citizens to unseen dangers in time for self defense.

    Climate change is currently a huge danger, the current and future magnitude of which is unseen by hundreds of millions of Americans.

    Like a Trojan horse, Americans think fossil fuels are a wonderful gift. And the Trojan-like fossil fuel companies are spending hundreds of millions to keep us thinking this. (This horse not only fools folks, it stamps gold coins by the billions, so how can they ‘put it out to pasture!?’)

    So, WHERE is our government warning and protection these days? Why aren’t we spending hundreds of millions to correctly inform the public so that they can correctly inform their elected officials that they actually DO WANT TO PRESERVE A LIVABLE CLIMATE for the future, even if is does cost us a few percent of our almighty GDP (God Damned Product)!

    Yes, a ‘climate education and leadership’ speech by Obama, followed by a few hundred million dollars worth of civil defense-type citizens’ information blurbs on primetime TV are both very long overdue!

    Let’s all contact the White House to LET OBAMA KNOW that we need to hear from him about this. CALL: 202-456-1414. (If they give you the comment operators and the line is busy, call back to complain!)

    This is a democracy, and a democracy only works if its educated citizens do. This is especially true with the rapidly-expanding rights of corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in politics.

    “The sleeping fox catches no poultry. Up! Up!” –Benjamin Franklin

    Warm regards,

    Roger

  61. The name for the spill? BP’s Broken Promise

    Reframing and pivoting?

    Several comments thus far – by Wits End, paulm, Mike Roddy, Mark Shapiro, Potomac Oracle, Lewis Cleverdon and Chris Dudley – have all pointed accurately to the root source of this disaster, lax regulation and enforcement, and the cause of so many other serious challenges that are now facing us, from the financial crisis to the epidemic of simultaneous malnutrition and obesity in our children.

    Here’s my take…

    Obama is a smart man, perhaps even a good man, but he needs a much stiffer spine. He needs to come clean, and make good on yet another of his abandoned campaign promises – stop the bribery.

    There are 535 congresspersons in WDC, surrounded by 11,000 lobbyists – this is equal to the military division now tasked with security in 24,000 square miles of Iraq. These corporate shills shelled out $3.47 billion, just in the 12 months of 2009 – that’s $6.5 million per congressperson. What government can remain true to any principles in the face of that green flood?

    That was only a taste of what’s to come. Those massive graft figures predate the declaration by the five SCOTUS judges that corporate paper tigers (“fictitious persons” in law) possess the Human Right of Free Speech. These same “justices” have already asserted that money is equal to Free Speech, and they have now unleashed corporate treasuries upon our election processes without limit or even the requirement of a vote by shareholders (the legal ‘owners’ of any publicly traded firm). Some PR company near the capitol in Maryland even made an announcement that it would run for public office… Will we one day vote against a presidential candidate with the initials BP?

    Energy and natural resources companies’ contribution to the financial well-being of our leadership was just shy of the “healthcare” industry interests and financial industry interests, with the closely aligned transportation interests not far behind. Labor lobbying, which can at least make the argument that it defends the interests of working people, was twelfth in line to dump its lettuce into the feed-trough – with a total equal to a mere 8% of the “healthcare” lobby’s spend.

    2009 was a record year for graft in America, and 2010 is already set to outpace that record.

    Here’s a link to the 2009 data from opensecrets.org:

    http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/02/federal-lobbying-soars-in-2009.html

    Obama needs to call this what it is, and rally the American people against what they have already long and rightly despised. As long as our elections are determined by dollars instead of deeds and ideas, we’re destined to be ruled by the coldest and most ruthless sort of avarice imaginable. The “close relationship” that so many observe between the corporate agenda on the one hand, and our leadership and revolving-door regulatory agencies on the other, is exactly of the sort that one finds in the red-light district of any major city – except that the crimes in our capitol are conducted openly and are neither victimless nor illegal.

    If you’d like more on the hazards of purchased leadership:

    http://2greenenergy.com/say-adios-to-campaign-finance-reform/2426/

    The biggest danger our democratic republic faces is not the tactics of foreign radicals, however dangerous they truly are, and however many more our own tactics create that kill. The worst danger lies within: the rampant vigor of 11,000 lobbyists infiltrating and our government and subverting the will of our people.

    Obama can and will get nowhere without addressing this fact. He must mobilize the populace against this widely loathed and quite genuine foe (commonly recognized by people of all political persuasions). Then he’ll have the credibility – and the political strength of a huge popular movement – to successfully champion a bold and realistic energy policy independent of the grip that oil capital now has on our nation’s capitol. He has the intelligence to articulate the vision, and he needs now to show the necessary courage.

    Will he do this? We can always hope – can’t we?

    Craig Shields, Editor, 2GreenEnergy.com

  62. knoxkp says:

    At my little blog I’ve been calling it the BP Valdez – Drunk on hubris arrogance and thoughtlessness – these assholes have crashed in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Sadly their cries of we want the same deal exxon got will probably be answered by people like Landrieu

  63. Heraclitus says:

    The Deepwater Inevitability.

  64. prokaryote says:

    Oil-terror it is!

  65. prokaryote says:

    Once oil – fossil-energy is brought into systems where it not belongs – it wracks havoc on everything.

  66. Raul says:

    My goodness, the gov. site crashed that had the live feed of the gusher.
    BP’s site can handle it.
    Hmmm, Seems BP does have modern computers.
    Not talking about how the computers kerp saying invalid entry when the
    control room data processed the days activities.

  67. Mark says:

    Dear President Obama,

    You pledged a moratorium on drilling permits until a review of the Deepwater disaster has been completed.

    However, your administration is still issuing permits. This is completely unacceptable.

    Please hold your administration accountable to your pledge.

    From the NY Times this morning – “At least six of the drilling projects that have been given waivers in the past four weeks are for waters that are deeper — and therefore more difficult and dangerous — than where Deepwater Horizon was operating. ”

    How can this be? It only leads one to believe that nothing has changed in the “cozy” relationship between the oil industry and the US government.

  68. Bob Wallace says:

    Mike –

    “If oil prices shoot up, Obama will have looked smart for slowing offshore drilling ”

    That’s exactly backwards. Every Obama opponent will be pulling out their Econ 101 textbook and quoting stuff about how limiting supply drives up prices.

    That’s the bind left wing/eco-friendly politicians are in. If they do anything to cut petroleum supplies they are likely to get kicked out of office.

    And the people who replace them aren’t likely to be friends of renewables and alternatives. The Drill-Baby-Drill government will Drill.

  69. Chris Dudley says:

    Bob (#74),

    Mike was talking about going with alternatives to oil. Prices won’t rise if drilling is slowed. Prices rise when production is shut in.

    In terms of Econ 101, the President can reduce demand much faster than he can reduce supply so there should not be as real price issue.

  70. Bob Wallace says:

    Chris, I’ve read Mike’s post #63 a half dozen times. I do not see what you see in it.

    Yes, he says that alternatives should be pushed. But I doubt that we could get ample supplies of alternatives (ethanol?) on line by the time prices go up much from where they are now. And even a half dollar increase at the pump is political ammo for anyone if Obama had stopped offshore drilling.

    It’s not whether an attack is based on “real” facts. It’s how a decision can be spun.

    I think Obama is locked into a situation in which he has to continue offshore drilling (with lots more inspections and tighter adherence to the regs, perhaps some more requirements) while transportation alternatives are developed.

  71. Chris Winter says:

    I think it’s inarguable that we (the United States) must stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible. What’s arguable is the time frame that “possible” equates to. Also there’s a distinction to be made between “physically possible” and “politically possible.”

    The current state of U.S. politics being what it is, pushing too hard to end oil drilling on U.S. soil may bring about a backlash. As damaging as BP’s “Petro-Vesuvius” may be to the environment and the fisher-folk of the Gulf of Mexico, they will recover. The federal government can help considerably in this. But a backlash against the Obama administration could result in less help for them, and less progress toward alternative energy.

    By all means, keep agitating for shutting down the oil gusher soonest, and for holding BP accountable. But keep in mind that progress toward the larger goal requires balancing multiple near-term priorities.

  72. Mephisto says:

    BP Deepwater Blow-out

  73. Mephisto says:

    BP Deepwater Blow-out
    It contains the name of the company
    It contains the words “deep” and “water”, which are key to this event
    It contains the word “blow-out”, which it basically is.
    Nobody will forget what a blow-out is, after this event.

    The disaster that follows, would be in the meaning of these words. That’s why “BP Deepwater Disaster” will not work. Also, “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill” is being used, it’s a kind of ‘worktitle’, since it doesn’t seize up with the real magnitude of this disaster. But it does contain the word Deepwater already, which might stick. We just have to replace “Horizon” by “BP”.

    Because. Just Because. You Know. :-)

    On the “Horizon” you see ships and platforms.
    On “BP” you should see their spills.

  74. Mephisto says:

    Oh, and off course, the sarcastic, ironic phrase:
    BP, Big Polluters Oil Spill.

  75. Mephisto says:

    Finetuning: BP’s Deepwater Blow-out

    I’m afraid it will end up being the Deepwater Blow-out or Deepwater Oil Spill. Looking at Ixtoc I it might not get the name of BP attached to it…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IXTOC_I_oil_well_blowout.jpg

  76. Steve says:

    How about Spindlebottom? Spindletop but at the bottom of the Gulf.

    From Wikipedia:

    Lucas continued drilling and on January 10, 1901, at a depth of 1,139 ft (347 m), what is known as the Lucas Gusher or the Lucas Geyser blew oil over 150 ft (46 m) in the air at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day (16,000 m3/d)(4,200,000 gallons). It took nine days before the well was brought under control. Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen.

    Plus, Spindlebottom cracks me up.

  77. Chris Dudley says:

    Bob (#76),

    Perhaps we are not on the same wavelength about what it means to stop drilling. To me, it means that production continues as it has, perhaps increasing a bit if Thunder Horse ever gets fine tuned. You seem to think that is squeezes supply this summer or next.

    There are a number of steps the President can take to cut demand well below any supply impact stopping drilling might have in the future. Domestic drilling does not do anything to price except build a floor under it since the efforts are becoming so desperate and expensive.

  78. Bob Wallace says:

    Chris – #77

    “I think it’s inarguable that we (the United States) must stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible. What’s arguable is the time frame that “possible” equates to. Also there’s a distinction to be made between “physically possible” and “politically possible.””

    And I’m going to return to the point I was trying make way back at the top. The one that got sidetracked into burger/salad land.

    If you want to change a behavior it is extremely easier if you can replace it with an alternative, acceptable behavior. One which produces roughly the same result as did the original behavior.

    “Physically possible” – I understand that within a very reasonable amount of time we could replace coal (~40% of our electricity) with conservation, natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, and storage. It would take a while longer to get the NG out of the mix.

    I think we are on the cusp of being able to replace petroleum for the greater part of our transportation system with EVs, PHEVs, electrified rail, biofuel for airplanes. It’s going to take a couple of years to be sure.

    “Politically possible” – that’s where the ‘alternate behavior’ comes into play. If the public does not understand that their lives will be essentially no different post fossil fuel then it makes no political sense to try to shut off fossil fuel use.

    If you want to sell a transition to renewable fuels then you’ve got to give people a glimpse of the Promised Land. Take them to the top of the mountain. Let them look down on the grapes and honey.

    Try to get them to wear a hair shirt and failure is almost certainly guaranteed.

  79. Bob Wallace says:

    Chris #83 –

    I have a very strong suspicion that prices at the pump will head up very soon. It’s summer driving season which almost always means a price increase. And the world’s economy is recovering which means that demand will rise around the world. (Perhaps there is surplus supply to cover the added demand for the next several months. If so, I’ll retract the second assumption.)

    Now, I don’t know what Obama could do to reduce demand, short term. Perhaps you could fill in that blank? Longer term he has already raised MPG requirements.

    “Domestic drilling does not do anything to price except build a floor under it since the efforts are becoming so desperate and expensive.”

    I look at it in a different way. The reason oil companies are making “desperate and expensive” efforts to get oil out of the ground is because demand is there and is creating enough profit to justify the expense.

  80. J4zonian says:

    BP: Beau Pall?

  81. J4zonian says:

    In the end, it doesn’t matter if BP gets blamed. It could just as well have been Chevron, Exxon, Shell, or any of the others. They are all irresponsible, even if the degree differs a bit.

    To blame BP “personalizes” it (since corporations are persons now) the way blaming neoconservative travesties on George Bush personalizes that, and removes the philosophy, the group, the party and the rest from the equation and from blame. Now look, Bush is gone. No problem left, right? We can all go back to sleep, right?

    Blackwater changed its name after rape and murder cases, a black eye as a thug army in Iraq and New Orleans, etc: No problem! Know what Altria is? What if there were such a thing as the Altria court case or the Altria conviction? Would you have any idea what it was about? Bhopal… not Union Carbide’s problem now. Nor is it Dow’s, since they didn’t own UC when it happened. It’s magic! It’s nobody’s problem now! Let’s not make this about BP. It’s about oil and offshore drilling. It’s about dirty energy and government-corporate corruption. Whey even have a name? In 1984 the book, the language is shrinking and acronyms and abbreviations and names heard so often they elicit no thought are used to dull people’s senses. Use a different name every time and make people think about the totality of what happened, and continues to happen.

  82. Mephisto says:

    @Chris, 77:

    “By all means, keep agitating for shutting down the oil gusher soonest, and for holding BP accountable. But keep in mind that progress toward the larger goal requires balancing multiple near-term priorities.”

    You sound like those big “green” ecogroups, who sleep with the Big Oil money. Make it ‘politically possible’. Whatever.

    I love this phrase: In a fight between politics and physics, there is no choice. It is not that a governor can go and stand at the beach, talking to the rising sealevel: “Sorry, but the people of my state disagree with you rising. Come back later.”

    It will just not work. I catch your drift in saying ‘be carefull’. But why?
    Is Big Oil carefull?
    No, they are VERY aggressive in selling their drugs.
    So should we be. Aggressive in selling ecological responsible products.

  83. Chris Dudley says:

    Bob (#85),

    In the short term we can control demand using our Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan. Cutting 3 million barrels a day of US demand would be pretty easy using carpooling. It would cut the price of oil so it would no longer be profitable to drill in deep water.

  84. Chris Winter says:

    @Mephisto (#88):

    Suppose President Obama sanctions BP from doing business with the U.S. government? I believe this has been mentioned as a possibility. Would BP then go to the WTO claiming the penalty was unfair? Similar tactics have succeeded wrt so-called turtle exclusion devices. (Ref: Phillipe Sands, Lawless World)

    And that’s just one sort of backlash that’s possible.

    Certainly it’s physically possible to supply a large part of our energy demand with clean sources. It’s politically possible too; but that will be a bruising fight. Look at the furor over Cape Wind: Seven years, and I’m not sure it’s over yet.

    You sound like those big “green” ecogroups, who sleep with the Big Oil money. Make it ‘politically possible’. Whatever.

    Ha! You have no idea how far off the mark that is.

  85. mike roddy says:

    Bob-

    It has already been determined that increasing offshore drilling to the maximum extent will only affect gas prices a few cents per gallon, if that. Additional offshore wells will be a fraction of a fraction of a fraction- total global production/US production/additional offshore wells.

    Oil is traded internationally. US offshore wells are not going to have any real effect on either peak oil or upward trending prices due to higher production costs (as Chris has pointed out)

    That makes renewables look good. That was my point. Offshore drilling is a Republican talking point that was coopted by Obama, not a solution.

  86. kate says:

    “Show people that they can not only cut greenhouse emissions and other environmental/health damages but save money by simply changing the ways they now live their lives. With no negative impact to their lives.”

    This last sentence is not entirely accurate. Part of the problem discussed by you and others in trying to show people how switching to greener energy saves them money is this: They save money _in the long run_. In the short term, green energy is going to take more out of their wallets. Right now with the economy still in the process of recovery, how do you get people to make the initial investment? You can tell people that if more people sign up for green energy options with their utility companies, that will help drive the price down. But in the meantime, who can afford to pay for it? That’s only one of many examples. The real challenge is to to get people to make that investment without fear that they are going to have to give something up–although, really, in our runaway consumerist culture there is plenty we can and should give up, as I believe someone elese did point out–and to find ways to make alternatives less costly, especially for the poor.

  87. Leif says:

    “Right now with the economy still in the process of recovery, how do you get people to make the initial investment?” Kate, #92.

    You go to where the money is. The oil Companies and high finance take it. Tax them, fine them, change the rules on them, take them to court, what ever. And you use that money for the initial investment. Why should Humanity suffer because Capitalism and Corporations were able to manipulate laws, judiciary, politicians and the electorate. Then amass 95% of the wealth and leave humanity on the door step of doom and expect us to honer the debt. Well I am not going to pay up willingly. Not illegally, just not going help much.

  88. Ross Donald says:

    BP’s Environmental 9-11
    ross@rnn.com

  89. J4zonian says:

    An interesting article on this topic at Common Dreams: Trusting the Scorpion; BP, the legacy of Republican Hypocrisy and Democratic Cowardice, http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/05/27-4