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Time magazine says Rush was right about oil spill

Posted by Richard on July 29, 2010

Many weeks ago, early in the history of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Rush Limbaugh argued that calling it a crisis or an environmental catastrophe was unwarranted and mere environmentalist hype. He pointed out that the natural seepage of oil from the ocean floor every day in the Gulf was about equal to the amount being spewed each day from the well. He pointed out that the microbes in the ocean water consumed that natural seepage and would do the same with the plumes of oil spreading throughout the Gulf. He argued that, while the accident was serious and unfortunate, it was not a catastrophe and would not, as environmentalists claimed, do permanent and significant harm.

Now, more than a hundred days after the spill began, Time magazine's Michael Grunwald says that the "obnoxious anti-environmentalist" Rush was right

President Obama has called the BP oil spill "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced," and so has just about everyone else. Green groups are sounding alarms about the "catastrophe along the Gulf Coast," while CBS, Fox and MSNBC are all slapping "Disaster in the Gulf" chyrons on their spill-related news. Even BP fall guy Tony Hayward, after some early happy talk, admitted that the spill was an "environmental catastrophe." The obnoxious anti-environmentalist Rush Limbaugh has been a rare voice arguing that the spill — he calls it "the leak" — is anything less than an ecological calamity, scoffing at the avalanche of end-is-nigh eco-hype.

Well, Limbaugh has a point.

The scientists I spoke with cite four basic reasons the initial eco-fears seem overblown. First, the Deepwater oil, unlike the black glop from the Valdez, is unusually light and degradable, which is why the slick in the Gulf is dissolving surprisingly rapidly now that the gusher has been capped. Second, the Gulf of Mexico, unlike Alaska's Prince William Sound, is very warm, which has helped bacteria break down the oil. Third, heavy flows of Mississippi River water have helped keep the oil away from the coast, where it can do much more damage. And finally, Mother Nature can be incredibly resilient. Van Heerden's assessment team showed me around Casse-tete Island in Timbalier Bay, where new shoots of Spartina grasses were sprouting in oiled marshes and new leaves were growing on the first black mangroves I've ever seen that were actually black. "It comes back fast, doesn't it?" van Heerden said. 

Read the rest — it's fascinating. Apparently, the harm to fish and wildlife has been very modest, the damage to the marshes is a mere blip compared to the coastal wetlands lost every year for other reasons, and the oil-eating microbes, as Limbaugh predicted, seem to be doing a bang-up job. It's becoming increasingly difficult to even find any remaining oil to clean up.

Limbaugh claimed (tongue firmly in cheek, as usual) that the missing oil is "hiding next to the 3.6 million jobs that have been saved, admiral.  It's hiding right next to all the heat that the global warming people can't find."

BTW, here's something that's peeved me about the coverage of the oil spill almost from the beginning: Crude oil is measured by the barrel. No one in the oil industry ever measures a volume of oil by the gallon. Gasoline, milk, and water are measured (in the US) by the gallon, but it wasn't gasoline, milk, or water that was spilled.

There are 42 US gallons per barrel of oil. Admittedly, many people don't know that. But rather than educate their audience by stating this in their stories, the MSM have routinely specified the spill rate and the total amount of oil spilled in gallons. It gives them bigger, scarier numbers to report. Lazy journalism? A reflection of their own ignorance? Or a subtle way to further their anti-energy-industry agenda? I don't know, but it annoys me. 

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