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    • And They Made A Desert: 80 to 90% Drop In Nutrients In Food
      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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What we had, and What we lost…

May 27: Hillary at the Brookings Institution telling it like it is

Our Hillary says it plain: The rich are not paying their fair share.

Ben Smith at Politico:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a rare foray into domestic politics today, offering her view that — given America’s high unemployment — wealthy Americans don’t pay enough taxes.

“The rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing the kind of employment issues [America currently does] — whether it’s individual, corporate or whatever [form of] taxation forms,” Clinton told an audience at the Brookings Institution, where she was discussing the Administration’s new National Security Strategy.

Now there’s someone who knows what she believes and doesn’t need to be, ahem, ‘prompted’ to say it.

You can see her make her remark, off-the-cuff, in the Q&A session at around the 57 minute-mark:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hill makes a point to says she’s speaking only for herself and not as part of the Administration:

Clinton said the comment was her personal opinion alone. “I’m not speaking for the administration, so I’ll preface that with a very clear caveat,” she said.

But, Hillary isn’t just speaking for herself here. She’s speaking for me too, and I’m sure I’m not alone on that one.

She also cited Brazil as a model:

“Brazil has the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western Hemisphere and guess what — they’re growing like crazy,” Clinton said. “And the rich are getting richer, but they’re pulling people out of poverty.”

When I see news like this, I hear the line from Fleetwood Mac in my head… “In the stillness of remembering… What you had, And what you lost…”

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Oilpocalypse Update: Top Kill Setback

Marsh choked with oil

The New York Times reports:

BP had to halt its ambitious effort to plug its stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil.

A technician at the BP command center said that pumping of the fluid had to be stopped temporarily while engineers were revising their plans, and that the company hoped to resume pumping by midnight, if federal officials approved.

The technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said the problem was not seen as serious. “We’re still quite optimistic,” he said, but cautioned: “It is not assured and its not a done deal yet. All of this will require some time.”

It’s so nice to know that BP is still optimistic.

Here is the comment thread at the Oil Drum, where they are discussing this and other developments. Dakinikat turned me on to the site.

One thing I’ve been wondering about is what will happen if a hurricane blows through the Gulf and stirs up all that oil, which the government now admits is probably way more than was released in the Exxon Valdez spill. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground wrote a lengthy piece that addresses this question. He says that

A hurricane has never passed over a sizable oil spill before, so there are a lot of unknowns about what might happen. The closest call came in 1979, after the greatest accidental oil spill in history, the massive Ixtoc I blowout. That disaster dumped 3 million barrels (126 million gallons) of oil into the Southern Gulf of Mexico between June 1979 and March 1980. Category 1 Hurricane Henri passed just north of the main portion of the oil spill on September 16 and 17, generating 15 foot seas and southwest winds of 15 – 25 knots over the spill region on the 16th….The main impact of the wind was to dilute the oil and weather it, converting it to a thick “mousse.”

Based on what happened back then, a hurricane can help clean up an oily beach, but the oil is then carried further away to foul other areas.

Consider the case of the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989. The ill-fated tanker split open in Prince William Sound on March 24, and oil spill response crews were initially able to contain the spill behind booms and make good progress removing it. However, two days later, a powerful Gulf of Alaska storm with 70 mph winds roared through, overwhelming the containment booms and distributing the oil along a 90-mile stretch of coast. The oil went on to foul over 400 miles of Alaska coast, a far larger disaster than would have occurred than if the storm had not passed by. Similarly, a hurricane moving through the Gulf of Mexico spill will very likely make the disaster much worse, spreading out the oil over a larger region, and bringing the oil to shores that otherwise might not have seen oil. It is true that the oil will be diluted some by being spread out over a larger area, so some shores will not see a substantial oiling. But overall, a hurricane passing through the oil spill is likely to result in much higher damage to the coast.

What will be the effect of a hurricane on the giant plumes of oil that are being discovered just beneath the surface of the water? Masters writes:

Hurricanes act like huge blenders that plow through the ocean, thoroughly mixing surface waters to depths as great as 200 meters (650 feet), and pulling waters from depth to the surface. Thus if sub-surface plumes of oil are located within 200 meters of the surface, a hurricane could potentially bring them to the surface. However, the huge sub-surface plumes of oil found by the research vessel Pelican were at depths of 2300 – 4200 feet, and a hurricane will not affect the ocean circulation at those depths.

According to the report in the Washington Post, the recently discovered oil plume extends from just under the surface of the water down to 3200 feet and it is more than 6 miles wide. It is also invisible.

“Here is a situation where, unless you’re looking at the chemical fingerprints, [the oil] is absolutely not visible,” Hollander said. “It’s not some Italian vinaigrette or anything like that. It’s absolutely, perfectly clear.”

But, Hollander said, even this clear-looking water could contain enough oil to be toxic to small animals at the base of the gulf food chain. He said he was also worried that the oil contains traces of “dispersants,” soap-like chemicals sprayed into the oil to break it up.

What happens if a hurricane passes over that? Would it carry “invisible” dissolved oil for miles and drop it in far-away places where it won’t even be detected until it makes people and animals sick? I have no idea; I’m just asking.

What are you hearing?