The 2010 BP Oil Disaster

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In working on a later entry on my future, I realized that one can not do such an entry without acknowledging all major past events in my life. While most of these events have already been covered in previous entry’s, there is one that had a major impact, but I did not mention.

That, was how my life changed after the Deepwater Horizen explosion, and the subsequent oil release that followed.

Now, the event was not what I would call “life changing”, at first. I had been paying fairly close attention to the whole situation since it began on April 20th, 2010, but it did not have a real impact on my day to day existence.

It was not until sometime in maybe, mid May, that it all changed, late one evening while browsing facebook.

I remember that day, probley because of it being a life changing day.  I worked an evening  job at a gas station (4 to 11), so I got up sometime after noon. Did my daily pre-work rituals, drank coffee and watched my regular pre-work shows  (Dr Oz one of them). Went to work, in the process of the evening ending up drinking 2 cans of red nos (energy drink) and a 1L of lipton iced tea (this was/is a fairly regular thing for me). After work, I went home and did my usual after work stuff, watched tv and/or hopped back online (likley trolling somewhere on facebook. Also, a regular occurrence I admit LOL).

The details go right down to the band I was listening to at the time (something off Megadeth‘s then new “Endgame” album, don’t recall the song though) everything changed.

When browsing my facebook news feed, I seen a discussion between a couple of my online friends, who were under the impression that the BP disaster would spell, the end. The end of life as we know it, and humanity. Basically, the oil leak would likely prove to be impossible to “plug”, and that eventually the whole reservoir feeding the leak would end up dumping into the gulf (likley due to a catastrophic sub sea blowout should the gasses erode the area around the failed blow out preventer). This oil would then get carried by oceanic currents like the gulf stream around the Atlantic, and eventually world wide. All with apocalyptic consequences within months, to a year (this was my understanding anyway).

Of course, many with intelligence would automatically question such an outrageous claim, and/or go on a hunt to at least make sure this was true, before jumping into freakout mode. And since I consider myself a rational person, normally I would have to.

The problem was, the conveyer of the information, was someone I consider to be very intelligent. And not in just a “Oh he’s so smart!” sort of way, he had the credentials to back it up. Being a professor at a university, and seeing his intelligence of the world around us in his works of writing from the past right to the present (then, 2010), made me not doubt a word he said. Which was, at the time, a HUGE pill to swallow. Like a gigantic slap in the face.

I remember my initial reaction, which was to log off and go out and get some air. I went out for a  late night bike ride on the bike I had just purchased 2 days previous. It ended up being a very short ride (just around the block), partly because it wasn’t clearing my head the way late night walks/bike rides usually did. And partly because, I nearly did a cartwheel after my handlebars came loose unexpectedly, causing me to fall forward. Its hilarious to think of now, but not so much then, because my mind was a thousand miles away.

Some of my first thoughts were, “Why me?!”. Of all the generations of people both past and present, why me?
Yeah, selfish in hindsight. But the mind in mourning can go in many directions.

I then ended up going home and right to bed, thinking that sleep could help me a bit (or at very least, get my mind off of it). Unfortunately,  the jolt of caffeine I had drank earlier in the day came back to haunt me, so I ended up laying there freaked out, grieving the animals (mainly the pelicans), and humanity at large (which is odd, since working in customer service, AND dealing with people in general, has made me hate humanity).
And, seeing no real reason as to why not to, I threw my “atheism” to the wind, and I prayed. I prayed for the welfare of the animals affected, for humanity, but mostly, for my friends and family to be “spared” from the destruction. Yeah, some atheists may read this and raise an eyebrow, think lesser of my intelligence for flipping like that.

Frankly, you can think whatever you want. All I can say is, when your living a relatively “normal” life, and one day your whole life is literally RIPPED out from under you, you tend to initially, NOT act rationally.

Well at some point late in the morning (maybe 9am) I finally fell asleep. Unfortunately, the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach was just as strong the next day as it was the night before. I begun my day with the normal rituals, but seemingly 1000 years away from what was in reality, only 24 hours previous. It was any old day, yet I viewed it from a completely new prospective.

The irrelevancies in my life, like electricity and hot water to shower in, i was suddenly more aware of, thankful for. Many of the hatreds and pet peves of yesterday were blown away, microscopic and silly in the face of imminent annihilation. And the things people did and worried about, suddenly became stupidly tiny, compared to “what was to come”.

For example, I was watching Dr Oz, a normal habit of mine. And he was doing what he always does, giving people tips on how to live a better and fuller life. I watched him and The Dr’s because of the many tips you can sometimes learn from each show. That day however, as I watched Dr Oz, all I could think was “It does not matter. Eat healthy, drink healthy, exercise enough, it does not matter. WERE ALL DEAD!”.

Head off to my job, and it was more of the same. I remember one lady was making a huge deal out of some bird shit on the top of her car. She purchased a car wash, but she could not say enough how “gross” it was. I felt a mixture of contempt (“Your appalled at birdshit, WITH WHATS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD NOW!!!”), and pity (“MY GOD, if your biggest worry is bird shit, your FUCKED when the trucks quit arriving to fill your favorite grocery store”). THAT, is literally what I seen as imminent.

And so that is how the next week or so played out. I had heavy thoughts of suicide early on, not wanting to be around when TSHTF (“doomer” term for “The Shit Hits The Fan”). And I went to work, and felt more and more resentful to people and there idiotic miniscule problems they made out to be mountains. I had mixed emotions when it came to them, being almost GLAD they would soon “learn there lesson”, yet at the same time, remorseful that they would never see it coming.

I begun to be more and more annoyed with people. With the lack of attention they paid to the goings on in the gulf. For example, when Canada got gold in Vancouver during the Olympics for whatever sport (i don’t care enough about sports to give a rats ass), I kept seeing it repeated on people’s status’s.

“Yeah, Canada got the gold!!” they would proudly proclaim, while I thought to myself “Who fucking cares!”.
Granted, this is what I would have thought anyway, being the complete irrelevance of sports to my life (and my hatred for watching them on TV. Live in person, or being in the game is one thing. Watching it on the boob tube, is another). But the sentiment was just magnified by the situation.

While the irritation towards people and there petty issues didn’t wear down, after awhile my desire to exit life before TSHTF gradually subsided, replaced by the feeling that I needed to “prepare”. For WHAT exactly, I did not know, but I did start to stock up on the first 2 things I thought would be necessary,  water bottles and canned goods.

My workplace had a good deal on the purchase of 2 12 packs, so whenever I had money to spare, I would take advantage. I did not tell my mother what I was doing (its was just easier that way), but I just began “stashing” cases where ever i could find a place to hide them. Eventually I had well over 100 bottles stashed in the back of the kitchen cubards as well as in a living room closet, and 2 cubards filled with canned goods of all kinds (veggies, fruit, soup. Pretty much anything that was on sale in multiples).

A bit of a funny story with cans, I had bought 10 orange cans at a store I didn’t normally shop at (they were on 10 for 10, if I remember right), with the assumption that they were soup. But when I got home, I realized they were all pineapple (something we don’t normally eat PERIOD, let alone out of a can lol). Well, we didn’t end up using them all up until about 2 months ago (they were bought in 2010). AND, working at that very grocery store currently, I ended up writing off a few cans from what I believe to be the same batch that I had originally purchased from (shows how popular they are lol).

But, back to the topic at hand, the next while was spent gradually building up my personal stash of water/food for my family (me and my mother, though she had no idea why I had so many), as well as eating up almost every piece of information I could get my hands on. Looking back now, I feel kind of stupid for accepting some of the things that I did with little question. But at the time, the source for some of the information had excellent credentials (I had no real reason to consider the information false). And I had really no one else knowledgeable enough to reach out to, besides the internet.

Some of these “fears” that I took seriously are going to seem silly in hindsight (even I think so), but please remember my state of mind at the time.
One, was the whole death by oceanic oil thing (my assumption was that the oil would kill a lot of plankton, which would then cause a depletion in oxygen, which would then ripple back and bite us in the ass).

Another, was that Florida would be the first to suffer apocalyptic consequences, when the desalinati0n and power plants (both requiring somewhat clean intake water, many drawing from the gulf), failed. The desalination situation is obvious, without water, cities (and life) can not exist (and even with ground water backup, this is only a temporary fix).

And when it comes to electricity, with out it nothing runs. Gas stations can not fill up cars with pumps that run on electricity. And refrigeration in terms of both food preservation AND air conditioning, becomes impossible. So now you don’t just have a food crisis, but you also have millions of people without any reprieve from the scorching Floridian summer heat.

Then there was some conspiracy nut that had the idea that the massive release of oil by the leak could release the New Madrid fault, potentially causing the great lakes to drain all the way though the US and into the gulf. Something I later learned to be geologically impossible, but at the time, who knows.

There was the implosion theory. The pressure of the oil could weaken the seabed enough to collapse it into the reservoir, causing cold water to rush into a searing hot pit. Which I assume would cause a GIGANTIC steam explosion, which would send a tsunami around the gulf. And due to the chemical nature of the water (thanks to the crude and the dispersant),any land the water touches (between 50 and 100 miles inland), will be unfit for habitation or crops for up to 50 years. This would have included pretty much all of Florida, and a fairly big chunk of Cuba.

Then there was the danger posed by evaporating volatile organic compounds (lighter compounds of crude oil) and the dispersant getting airborne. The risk here, being that any precipitation originating in the gulf (and later on, the Atlantic as the chemicals ride the gulf stream) could potentially carry this toxic payload of petro/corexit inland, as far north as Newfoundland/The Maritime provinces, and as far west as Oklahoma City, as illustrated by the map below.

EVACUATION_MAP

Once again, we know NOW that its the work of some asshole using paint to inflate an already dire situation. But again, in a time of crisis, it can be hard to sort the fact from the fiction.

Along with the above examples, and many others of which I probley do not remember off hand, I also learned of 2 other big (unrelated) threats to humanity, peak oil and climate change. Well, climate change I had known about (just not taken NEARLY as seriously), but peak oil was news to me.

In anycase, as that summer progressed on, I found myself going though some changes, something I later identified as stages of grief.

Looking back now, it started when I first learned of “our imminent demise”, first with shock, followed by the depression/pain stage. During this time I also had bouts of anger, at the people who caused this mess, at society itself for not moving past petroleum as a main fuel source, and at my ancestors, for putting humanity onto a path witch was eventually going to end in disaster.

Then I found myself (unknowingly at the time) in the bargaining stage. I changed all the light bulbs in my apartment to cfl’s, started purchasing recycled toilet paper/paper towel, became more “ecologically friendly”. Im thinking that my mind thought that, MAYBE if I do this, things will be different.

Then, as the situation kept proving to be not nearly as deadly as previously thought, my I found myself with a more, shall we say’ “stable” footing in reality. Not living in complete fear of the end, but not yet ready to dispel it either.

One thing that I had wanted from day 1 of my “preparations”, was some sort of timeline. Is our demise going to be in a month? 2 months? A year? 5 years?
Though many MANY people could supply all kinds of scenarios of death and destruction for the species, I never did manage to get even a broad “time line”, as to when these things may occur. .

Not always possible, BUT 2 very important factors for many theories (ocean currents and wind/weather patterns) are easily measured. Both are fairly steady, so both should provide a fairly straightforward timeline, be it gradual “contamination”, or sudden (like, after a tropical storm or hurricane). Yet, never could I get a timeline. Though I looked for months, and months.

After awhile, one could say, I “came to my senses”. I realized that maybe people were not worried, NOT because they were ignorant to what me and a few hundred (thousand?) other internet “doomers” seen coming, but because, there was nothing to worry about. And that I had been a victim of something I am normally very cautious of, conspiracy theory.

9/11 taught us how easily one could fill an informational void/vacuum with whatever you wanted people to believe, and a lot of the time, people would buy into it without a second thought. I had torn down my fair share of 9/11 theories over the years, ide even  developed a bit of a “profile” as to how most conspiracy theorists (in general) were.

I seen them as being very close to strong theists, in there expression of there beliefs. In that many are arrogant (seem to consider themselves “above” the rest of the populace), for seeing what the rest of us are “to stupid” to see. Granted, few would go as far as to say that, but the superiority insinuation is there a good part of the time.

I started to see these traits in myself. I looked down on people for not “seeing” what was coming, but I didn’t really convey the message publicly (thankfully).

After this, i admit, I was a tad bit miffed at the folks whom started me down this “path” to self destruction, that wasn’t. But then I realized, it was me that didn’t bother to check if any of it held water in the first place. The blame lies nowhere else but with me.

After a few months went by with the world as I knew it still “intact”, I began to be comfortable enough to slowly dwindle down my “stash of  food cans and water bottles. And my life gradually “normalized” again.

Though one of the most horrific experiences in my whole life, this has not been without a silver lining.

One, being that I no longer hold much (if any) hatred for anyone, terrible past foe or not. This becomes interesting when I see the actions of others, and I see my old self in them.

Another, was that  though its not wise to go NUTS on preparing for the crack a doom, it can never hurt to be a little prepared (keeping a few cases of water and some canned food is never a bad idea. Just don’t forgot to rotate them out about once a year or so. And don’t buy 10 cans of pineapple lol).
In a pinch, you have something to eat when you have no money for anything else.

And the biggest lesson was, the power of conspiracy theory itself. A lot like religion, when taken VERY seriously, it can have a big affect on people (be it positive, or in my case, negative).

I used to look down on the 2012 “doomers”, the ones that believed it to be a time of apocalyptic consequence (be it due to religious, man made or “other” forces). To me they were  fools playing into the hands of cunning Shepards (some, profiting handsomely off the “preparations” they sold to the panicked).

But this situation taught me, that even if you have a somewhat “rational” mind, you can be fooled. It also opened my eyes to just how real these things can be, to the people believing them.

Now, when it comes to this subject, its still debatable. Ive heard rumors that though the leak is “officially” sealed, it really isn’t, and were therefore not out of harms way.

But like the material I had based my assumptions on before, this can not be proven, short of buying myself an ROV and looking myself (unfortunately, I don’t have the deep pockets of an energy company, so I can’t do such a thing). So I learn to live with it, as a mystery.

Hopefully its sealed, we know the truth. But even if not, there isn’t a wh0le lot one can do about it anyway.

Im just glad I had a few influences to reach out to during this “crises” of self, that kept me from doing anything to drastic and nuts.

2 thoughts on “The 2010 BP Oil Disaster

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