BP. It used to stand for British Petroleum. Now it apparently stands for Beyond Petroleum most likely in a bid to try and make themselves sound more environmentally friendly but more likely because they spilled all their oil into the Gulf of Mexico so they have to start looking beyond it.
There is no feel good side to this story. I mean, of course, it’s a massive natural disaster but even those kind of stories have side stories about people banding together to make the best out of a bad situation. There is no best to this story. There isn’t even any ‘meh’.
Check out this photo essay about the oil hitting the Louisiana coast from the Boston Globe with beautiful photos of a disgusting tragedy (including the dragonfly with oil on its wings above). The number of barrels of oil in the gulf doesn’t come close to the emotional impact that images of the first hand destruction have. And if videos are more your thing, BP has set up a live cam to let you actually watch the oil spill into the gulf straight from the source. I’m not sure how I feel about this cam. On one hand it feels like really cheap, dirty entertainment. On the other hand, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on these BP folks since they recently came out with a video explaining their efforts to stop the spill. Unfortunately, as is explained in this post at Flowing Data, it appears as though BP is using graphs to try and mislead people into thinking they’re doing more than they actually are.
Last but not least, what would a natural disaster story be without a worst-case scenario. Hurricane season is gearing up to start in four days with experts predicting an above average year in storm activity. You can see where this is going. I immediately imagined an oil hurricane that somehow catches on fire but, according to Chris Mooney, if a hurricane hits the oil slick it won’t be that bad although it won’t be great either.
Oh! And did you hear about the oil leak in Nigeria that has leaked more oil that the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico over the past week? Didn’t think so.
All this reminds of Serge Gainsbourg’s song Torrey Canyon which references the first major oil spill off the coast of England. The Torrey Canyon, a supertanker carrying 120,000 tons of crude oil for–who else–BP ran aground when trying to take a shortcut. To reduce the environmental impact of the spill, the British government decided to–I still can’t really believe this–drop 42 one thousand pound bombs onto the ship hoping to burn off the oil. When that wasn’t cutting it they dropped aviation fuel onto the fire to make it burn more oil.
Cent vingt mille tonnes de pétrole brut,
Cent vingt mille tonnes
Dans le Torrey Canyon
- Serge Gainsbourg