Gulf oil spill approaching Loop Current image: NASA via flickr.
The Federal response to the BP oil spill is getting criticism from all sides, the latest being from some prominent oceanographers. The New York Times reports that the big issue is accurate scientific analysis of how much oil is actually pouring into the Gulf, and the seeming lack of effort on the part of the Obama administration to force BP into making one--it took Rep. Ed Markey forcing the issue to get BP to post a live feed of the gusher and that just happened a month after this all started. But back to the scientists: Sylvia Earle, winner of a TED Prize and National Geographic Explorer in Residence, sums up the sentiment. "It seems baffling that we don't know how much oil is being spilled. It seems baffling that we don't know where the oil is the water column."
Rick Steiner, marine biologist and consultant on oil spill prevention and response: "A vast ecosystem is being exposed to contaminants right now, and nobody's watching it. That seems to me like a catastrophic failure on the part of NOAA.
Mr. Steiner said the likelihood of extensive undersea plumes of oil droplets should have been anticipated from the moment the spill began, given that such an effect from deepwater blowouts had been predicted in the scientific literature for more than a decade, and confirmed in a test off the coast of Norway. An extensive sampling program to map and characterize those plumes should have been put in place from the first days of the spill, he said.
Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer from Florida State University who questioned from the start the official statements on the scale of the spill, was even more blunt: "They want to hide the body."
Read the original for NOAA's defense of their actions and the logistical constraints they are facing: New York Times
The thing that really strikes me in the response, even recognizing the enormity of anyone really being able to mount an effective remedy, is that from the start there was far too much trust in BP to do the right thing, to be able to handle the situation.
More on the BP Oil Spill:
Must See Aerial Footage of BP Oil Spill Shows 'The Gulf Bleeding' (Video)
First Underwater Images of the Gulf Oil Spill (What BP Won't Show You)
Oil Spill Expert: BP Dangerously Using Two Conflicting Clean Up Technologies (Video)