Scientists get no respect.
That became obvious once again yesterday at the latest hearing of the White House’s commission investigating the Gulf gusher. Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was asked if the White House consulted her agency last spring before the president announced he was opening up thousands of acres along the East and Gulf coasts to off-shore drilling. Nobody asked her, said Lubchenko. But surely someone talked to Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, right? Wrong — again.
These oversights — overslights? — seemed to vex Bob Graham, former Florida senator and co-chair of the commission:
There isn’t a culture, and this crosses administrations, that naturally reaches out to the scientists for their participation, therefore it would be appropriate to ask that Congress change the process.
No doubt they’ll get right on it.
Details, details: The media doesn’t do right by science either. That’s the take from Christopher Reddy, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He was part of the team that last week confirmed the presence of the huge plume of oily droplets floating underwater in the Gulf. But, as Reddy writes on the CNN website, all journalists wanted to talk about was whether the discovery proved the White House’s estimate on the oil remaining in the Gulf was wrong.
Science does not work that way. It is incremental. It is not a house of cards where one dissenting view leads to a complete collapse. Rather, science is more like a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece is added. Occasionally a wrong piece may be placed, but eventually science will correct it. Both the corrections and the completion of any scientific puzzle take time.
The crack of gloom: Remember when all those Republicans and Gulf Coast Democrats were predicting the drilling moratorium in the Gulf would lead to economic Armageddon? Flash back to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in June: “On the heels of a global financial meltdown that has already left millions of Americans jobless, the economic losses that will be inflicted by the moratorium are nothing short of staggering.” Actually, it’s been more flinch than stagger. Unemployment claims related to the moratorium have been in the hundreds, not thousands. And only two of the 33 deepwater rigs have left. John Broder and Clifford Krauss, writing in the New York Times, explain why:
Oil companies used the enforced suspension to service and upgrade their drilling equipment, keeping shipyards and service companies busy. Drilling firms have kept most of their workers, knowing that if they let them go it will be hard to field experienced teams when the moratorium is lifted.
Devil in the deep, blue sea: Also, the notion that the Gulf disaster would slow deep sea drilling around the world: that prediction hasn’t quite panned out either. There’s talk of tougher regulations, mainly in Brazil and Angola, but not much is expected to happen, certainly not until investigators know what caused the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The sad truth is that countries have come to depend on deepwater drilling. Nearly half the oil and gas reserves added in the past four years have come from deep beneath the sea.
But the BP leak has made at least one big name skittish: BP. Natural gas was just discovered off the coast of Greenland, sparking hype about a new oil rush. But our least favorite oil giant is staying away. To go, one source told The Guardian, would have been “political madness.”
The dirt talker: Political pundits are still trying to figure out how Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), blew the big lead that polls suggested she had over Tea Party challenger Joe Miller. He leads by about 1,500 votes with about 8,000 absentee ballots still to be counted. The latest speculation is that Murkowski lost her edge by choosing not to go down and dirty with a negative ad campaign in the last few weeks. Miller, meanwhile, suffered no such moral pangs. As Jeanne Devon writes in the Huffington Post:
Every available moment of air time on TV and radio was overtaken by Miller ads — Murkowski is a liberal! Murkowski is part of a political dynasty. She’s entitled. She says one thing and does another. She’s sold out for political power in D.C. She’s a liberal, and also by the way, she’s a liberal.
Miller was backed by Sarah Palin who, as always, tweeted her feelings:
Keeping fingers crossed, powder dry, prayers upward.
Toke it to the limit: And here’s an idea that may guarantee success for the electric car. A group of Canadian companies is designing an electric car made of hemp. That’s right, straight from the cannabis plant. Technically, the body of the compact, called the Kestrel, will consist of an impact-resistant material produced from mats of hemp. The car will reach a top speed of 55 miles per hour and go as far as 100 miles on a charge. Hopefully, the glove compartment will be filled with Doritos.