Fifteen years ago, I was in a dark Dallas theater watching the conclusion of two hours of drugs, predatory sex, and rampant teenage adriftness play out on the big screen. Kids was the sort of movie that left audiences winded and mopey and trying to recall any potential fluid exchanges that may had taken place since their last HIV test. As the credits rolled, a quiet despondency stalked the aisles. No one stirred. Not until some hooligan in the front bleated, “We're all gonna die!” and began laughing hysterically. About the AIDS epidemic.
A few minutes later I watched these ambassadors of punk fashion speed away in their flinty Beemer. That was as close as I've come to hearing someone yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater. Of course, the actual “fire” of AIDS had sparked years earlier.
Watching the viral spread of bad information related to the potential of toxic chemical dispersants from the BP oil spill to wreak havoc onshore leaves me with a similar feeling. As a helpless observer of this nightmare, I've been thoroughly numbed to the horror gushing 5,000 feet below these two and a half months. And yet â?¦ as if things aren't bad enough â?¦ the hooligans are back: chanting from a doomsday script. We Are All Gonna Die.
Seen this headline flitting through the blogosphere?
Toxic Oil Spill Rains Warned Could Destroy North America
It ran as news at the European Union Times, Disinformation (a news site that works to "promote important political, social or cultural issues that are ignored by the mainstream media"), the Liberty Blog, ("alternative news for free minds"), and We Are Change (a 9-11 truther site), to name just a few.
And, yes, they mean North America the continent.
I tracked the headline back to Whatdoesitmean.com, where we read:
Russian scientists are basing their apocalyptic destruction assessment due to BP's use of millions of gallons of the chemical dispersal agent known as Corexit 9500 which is being pumped directly into the leak of this wellhead over a mile under the Gulf of Mexico waters and designed, this report says, to keep hidden from the American public the full, and tragic, extent of this leak that is now estimated to be over 2.9 million gallons a day.
Only the study itself is nowhere to be found. A few paragraphs deeper the author talks about the super-secret plan to relocate “tens of millions” of Gulf Coast residents. Super-secret info doesn't need documentation, I guess. Then it wouldn't be super-secret anymore.
Still, there are lots of legitimate fears about the chemicals being used in this “clean-up,” and the paranoia-inducing secrecy being employed by BP hasn't helped writers trying to get reliable information to the public. Though I wasn't able to get through to Dr. Claudia Miller at UTHSC-SA a couple weeks back, WOAI was. Here's their report about the migration of apparently spill-poisoned individuals to San Antonio:
Then there have been these reports of coastal plants displaying what appear to be chemical burns.
We would expect no less from Corexit, one of the most toxic dispersants available. But the destruction of North America?
The Christian Science Monitor stepped into the conversation after the above video surfaced purporting to show how rain showers had deposited oil from the Gulf spill more than 40 miles inland, writing:
The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued statements saying that the agency "has no data, information or scientific basis that suggests that oil mixed with dispersant could possibly evaporate from the Gulf into the water cycle."
Another CSM writer chimed in the following day, that:
The event was written off as a bad case of automotive run-off.
Though rare, hydrocarbons are sometimes picked up in the water cycle. It was seen in Iraq during the Gulf War, for instance, during the planet's largest known oil spill. Even that didn't lead to the destruction of half of the Middle East. U.S. and British depleted uranium shells are working on that.
However, starting Sunday, researchers from Texas A&M will be launching weather balloons over the Gulf of Mexico to grab some air samples over the spill. While federal officials may have had a hard time getting good data on the amount of oil involved and the chemical makeup of the dispersants being used, “We know almost nothing about what's in the air,” Robert Korty, an assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at A&M, told the Current.
While the BP spill is still unfolding, and may have passed the Ixtoc as the world's 'second-worst' oil spill, listing it as the worst environmental catastrophe of all time reads like wishful thinking.
While these alleged Russian scientists may not have studied up on the Dust Bowl, they should remember the children of Chernobyl. If they did that much we probably wouldn't have to listen to all this nonsense about nuking the Deepwater gusher.
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