Stop calling it a spill.

Forgive me if I rant for a moment, but it’s been a while, and I need to get this off my chest. There’s something about this whole mess in the Gulf that really upsets me every time I hear about it – which is every time I turn on the radio. It’s times like this I’m thankful we have no television!

No, I’m not talking about the economy down south that’s heading even further south. I’m not talking about soiled birds and destroyed estuaries, nor the rising cost of Gulf shrimp. I’m talking about a matter of semantics.

Yes, all of the above is truly upsetting, but it’s what everyone is calling the cause that really turns my stomach.

Call it a disaster, call it a calamity, call it a gaping whole in the earth’s crust. Call it human error with dire circumstances or call it the beginning of the end of the world, but please… stop calling it an oil spill.

A “spill” implies something finite. The Exxon Valdez running aground caused an oil spill. And while that was – for lack of a better term – a lot of oil, it was an amount limited to what the ship could hold. As much damage as that did, it was manageable. What we have in the Gulf now is not a spill. It is a veritable infinite amount of oil gushing from the ocean floor with no stopping it in sight.

Calling the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe a spill seriously downplays its ramifications. Consequences of which we will not know the true nature for years to come. Thank you. We now return to our regular programming now in progress.

[steps off soapbox]

12 thoughts on “Stop calling it a spill.”

  1. The term “spill” might be understating this disaster at large Rene but let’s take a moment to reflect on a few other points to ponder.

    Yes, a lot of folks – especially those that live in Gulf states – are angry, fuming, and a host of other justifiable reactions to this calamity, but I would also offer that BP didn’t create this scenario just to get attention. I don’t think they wanted this situation any more than any of us would? What if BP was your or a friend’s company, wouldn’t this be the worst and last thing you’d ever want to happen? But it did and something went wrong, we need to know what went wrong.

    The enormity (not to be confused with enormousness) of this event should above all teach some powerful lessons all around. Dependency and demand. Some folks have a lighter “footprint” than others and this is a very good start for sure, but there are a lot of us on this planet vying for the same and or similar goodies and baubles and resources, more humans means more petroleum until other options become market viable. This is not to simply say that we as consumers have oil on our hands, but rather demand is such that risky drilling practices are increasing and there will be consequences if a point of failure occurs.

    We can all say it should have never happened but it did and it was – to my knowledge so far – a human mistake that caused it, we’ll need to learn more as to how the decision making process on that platform failed and not only caused this unbounding spread of oil, but claimed the lives of 11 employees.

    The stakes are getting higher for oil production and oil rich nations of this planet are not always the most politically stable. Alternative energies are in the works but not unlike capping an oil gushing leak one mile below sea level, solutions take time. Here’s a bit of an aside, who knows more about energy consumption than RV and boat owners?

    I have a friend who spends a good deal of time on his sailboat, his biggest concern is less about wind than about amps. Energy, no matter what type or in what form, is a complex topic, but of this I can assure you, alternative and smart energies have great futures, but we can’t expect it all overnight.

    When I lived on Kauai I was surprised to learn that our over the top expensive energy came from Diesel generators? The power company proposed wind mills but this was fought vigorously by various environmental groups on Kauai, we will at some point have to give in order to get cause if you weigh the price of imported oil over that of towers in remote locations then which do you choose? Diesel fuel is sight unseen and a not-in-my-backyard issue, we import the oil but we don’t want to tread on a habitats, OK, so we’ll just keep buying oil if that’s the easier pill to swallow. I’m not trying to shoot down the environmental argument as it’s a good one, but anyone who truly calls themselves an environmentalist should be contributing to solutions as aggressively as they can. Living by example is not a bad start either.

    Enrico digs in his heels and says – “It is not who is right but what is right that’s of importance”

    • For the record, readers should note above that the author of this post is me – Jim – not Rene. And I for one, have no desire to be in BP’s shoes right now, or in those of any of their investors. This mess is a tragedy for the company – and the families of their employees who lost their lives – as much as it is for mankind, and Mother Nature.

      The intent was not to dis BP, nor get all environmental, but rather to bring attention to the severity of the event by stressing how calling it a “spill” is totally inappropriate.

      Anyone care to take Mr. Headcase’s challenge to provide more appropriate alternatives?

    • I’m a wee bit late to this conversation but thought I’d ad (ahem) oil to the fire. Geez that was an awful pun!

      Yes, bad news and we all will eventually be feeling the long term effects of the gusher.

      Your comment about Kauai was very interesting. Last year I had a job working for a local start up renewable energy company in Gibraltar which is located at the tip of the Iberian peninsula. At the time, and to my knowledge this is still the status quo, there was not a single company in Gibraltar promoting renewable energy and an opening was seen in the market by a few investors.

      Gibraltar is the ideal location for renewable energy because it has a high solar rating ie. how many kilowatts of raw sun energy is beamed to the earth per square foot, has plenty of wind because it’s stuck out in the Straits between the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean, has regular tides and the population is about 30K and densely packed with its own autonomous government able to make rapid political changes as and when necessary.

      All energy is produced by a very old diesel power station which is being replaced with a new power station but it too will be diesel and there are zero plans to have an anode equipped power grid which means power from renewable resources cannot be fed back into the grid. Additionally, the government have no plans to encourage renewable energy resources and will continue to subsidise the cost of the diesel being used for the new generating station so long as the locals don’t care where their energy comes from. It beggars belief.

      Needles to say, the company went bust and now I work as a technician repairing marine electronic navigation systems on, you guessed, oil and gas tankers transiting the straits between the Suez Canal, Europe and North America.

      Finally, BP are no different to any other oil company or companies in that industry. All marine craft including oil rigs are supposed to adopt the very stringent safety standards that are issued by the IMO but human nature being what it is means these standards are regularly not met by most companies at some point during operations. The only difference with BP is they were caught out by the accident and watching the other oil companies pontificate on the networks about how they do not take the same risks is frankly laughable.

      There is no magic wand to fix our energy issues as someone else has mentioned so we might as well get used to relying on the sticky stuff but in the longer term, possibly in my lifetime, more renewable will be used but it will take another couple of generations until oil is no longer needed on the scale it is at this moment. One only hopes that we don’t see another disaster like the one still unfolding.

  2. the only thing worse is giving b.p. the job of capping it!!,they won`t even tell us the real amount of “crude” that is coming out of that thing!, kind`a like letting the fox guard the henhouse! are we stupid or what ??

  3. Thank you! Yes this is an exsanguination of oil from a deep gash in the earth that will not stop. Spilling implies a finite amount, coming from a pre-determined container size, like an oil freighter that runs aground.

    But this? Let’s send in other ideas about what to call this…a gushing forth of unstoppable highly toxic fluid that (geologically speaking) is not designed to even exist above ground!


    • Let’s send in other ideas about what to call this…

      Most excellent. So far, you win!

      What indeed to call this axe wound on the planet? Is it merely one big mistake, or dire repercussions of the mistaken advancement of insidious consumption?

      Perhaps it is a test. Maybe a reality check. Add hurricanes, corporate lies, media spin, censorship and a loop current, it is more likely one serious clusterfuck.

  4. Totally agree, Jim. I fear the magnitude of this disaster will be felt for many years to come. I grieve for the people and animals along the gulf coast.


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