There are now at least a half dozen news stories reporting inexplicable delays in getting skimmers and assistance to the Gulf oil spill that have run as recently as in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal online. I am not going to list or recount them today because I have already written about them and more would seem political which is not my intent.
That said, my intent is to sound the alarm that we are rapidly running out of time to get the oil cleaned up before a tropical storm or hurricane spreads large amounts of the oil inland and turns a difficult, but straightforward, cleanup into a nightmare. It is far easier to clean the oil at sea. The long-delayed test of the giant oil skimmer is being delayed by weather. The system in question is #1 below.
There are two other systems that could potentially form into a tropical storm or even hurricane (graphic below from the 11am National Hurricane Center outlook). The probability of development numbers (which pertain to the next 48 hours) are theirs.
In Warnings, I write (pp. 255-56),
There needs to be a culture change in Washington…insiders say, ‘In Washington nothing succeeds like failure.’ What they mean is that it is difficult to obtain funds and support for proactive, constructive measures. But, when there is a major governmental failure, such as the response to Katrina, the money flows and, equally important, no one gets fired. … We must demand more efficiency and accountability from those we send to represent us in our cities, our state capitals, and in Washington.”
This is the type of disaster I was thinking of when I wrote the above. The consequences of the oil spill are huge and the oil leak will not stop anytime soon.
Instead of focusing on the huge, certain, and serious environmental threat from the oil, some in Washington now want change the subject and tackle ‘global warming.’ This is nonsense. Until the Gulf oil has stopped leaking and it is cleaned up, the Administration, Congress, and Washington’s environmental agencies should focus on that problem and nothing else.