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Mission accomplished?

August 23 2010 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

The United States government, a democracy, exists to serve and protect its citizens. Abraham Lincoln summarized this well with the ending line of the Gettysburg Address "...government of the people, by the people and for the people..." So why are the United States Federal agencies involved in the Gulf spill failing the people? Why is a notable friend of the environment, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, twisting data so hard that it has become increasingly more difficult not to simply call what's being shared... exaggerations? The rosy picture she painted on August 4th seemed hard to believe. She painted a picture of crisp certainty. When I heard her statement the first thing that came to my mind was Colin Powell's picture of certainty to the UN, complete with photographs showing us where the weapons of mass destruction were being made in Iraq--none of which were ever found. Jane delivered the report titled BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Budget: What Happened To the Oil? which cited figures such as "24 percent of the oil has dispersed." Not 25 percent, 24 percent. Not 24 percent with a margin of error of 10 percent up or down. 24 percent. Someone would use specific figures like this to impart a strong sense of well-researched data. Dr. Lubchenco cited the fact that the report and its data were peer reviewed by a notable bevy of marine scientists. Again, one references others to essentially trade on their trust and credibility. Huffington Post has followed up with the scientists whose names were attached to the report. The scientists shared that there was a discrepancy with the report. They essentially said, "we didn't sign off on the results of this report." If anything they said they knew nothing with certainty and every estimate can have very large ranges. Here's NOAA's original four page report (not much of a report to sum up the status of 200,000,000+ gallons of oil and a few million gallons of dispersant). Meanwhile, back in the Gulf... the oil has been sunk. Somewhere between 5 - 8 Exxon Valdezes worth of oil remains and we don't know who we can trust. When I heard the report from NOAA on August 4th, I was in the Gulf talking with locals, business owners and our local crew that has been raising funds to test the water. I felt like the only thing missing from the report was a banner stating "Mission Accomplished!" It turns out I wasn't the only one that felt this unstated but implied message.
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