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Archive | Articles

Assigning a Cost to BP’s Gulf Oil Spill: Four Years On, Debate Continues

Published on Truthout, 5 November 2014.

In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded, causing the single largest marine oil disaster in US history.

While the oil gushed from nearly a mile below the surface, BP promptly began to lowball the daily flow rate.

The US government established the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) led by Marcia McNutt to determine the true amount of oil being injected into the Gulf of Mexico. The FRTG was composed of scientists from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Geological Survey, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the US Department of Energy and outside academics.

According to the FRTG, BP’s disaster led to at least 4.9 million barrels of oil being injected into the Gulf of Mexico. BP has challenged this calculation for numerous reasons, including asserting that this figure includes 810,000 barrels that was collected before it could enter the Gulf.

Yet a scientist who is part of the FRTG said early on that even the 4.9 million barrel figure, which means an average of roughly 56,000 barrels per day during the 87 days BP’s oil flowed, could be nearly three times too low.

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On Climate Disruption, Washington Governor Inslee Vows “Disruptive Change”

Published on Truthout, 27 October 2014.

The Chehalis River Valley is stunningly beautiful, verdant and home to some of the most bountiful farms in Washington State. From Christmas trees to flowers to some of the most luscious tomatoes you could ever eat, on a sunny day, it feels like one has landed in paradise here.

Unfortunately, the valley is also the site of some of the worst floods in the Pacific Northwest. The flooding has devastated farms, left bloated cattle corpses hanging from barn rafters and left some farmers themselves dead.

This is the location Gov. Jay Inslee chose to include as part of his climate tour in order to make a point.

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As Casualties Mount, Scientists Say Global Warming Has Been “Hugely Underestimated”

Published on Truthout, 20 October 2014.

As we look across the globe this month, the signs of a continued escalation of the impacts of runaway anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continue to increase, alongside a drumbeat of fresh scientific studies confirming their connection to the ongoing human geo-engineering project of emitting carbon dioxide at ever-increasing rates into the atmosphere.

A major study recently published in New Scientist found that “scientists may have hugely underestimated the extent of global warming because temperature readings from southern hemisphere seas were inaccurate,” and said that ACD is “worse than we thought” because it is happening “faster than we realized.”

As has become predictable now, as evidence of increasing ACD continues to mount, denial and corporate exploitation are accelerating right along with it.

The famed Northwest Passage is now being exploited by luxury cruise companies. Given the ongoing melting of the Arctic ice cap, a company recently announced a 900-mile, 32-day luxury cruise there, with fares starting at $20,000, so people can luxuriate while viewing the demise of the planetary ecosystem.

This, while even mainstream scientists now no longer view ACD in the future tense, but as a reality that is already well underway and severely impacting the planet.

It is good that even the more conservative scientists have come aboard the reality train, because a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-led (NOAA) study published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has provided yet more evidence linking ACD with extreme heat events.

To provide perspective on how far along we are regarding runaway ACD, another recent study shows that the planet’s wildlife population is less than half the size it was four decades ago. The culprits are both ACD and unsustainable human consumption, coupling to destroy habitats faster than previously thought, as biodiversity loss has now reached “critical levels,” according to the report. More than half of the vertebrate population on the planet has been annihilated in just four decades.

Let that sink in for a moment before reading further.

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Iraqi Doctors Call Depleted Uranium Use “Genocide”

Published on Truthout, 14 October 2014.

Contamination from depleted uranium (DU) munitions is causing sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq, according to numerous Iraqi doctors.

Iraqi doctors and prominent scientists believe that DU contamination is also connected to the emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.

There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah during 2004, and Basra during the 1991 US war on Iraq.

It is estimated that the United States used 350 tons of DU munitions in Iraq during the 1991 war, and 1,200 tons during its 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation.

Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the first Gulf War in 1991, the country’s rate of cancer cases was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the trend continuing.

The actual rate of cancer and other diseases is likely to be much higher than even these figures suggest, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research and reporting of cases.

“Cancer statistics are hard to come by, since only 50 percent of the health care in Iraq is public,” Dr. Salah Haddad of the Iraqi Society for Health Administration and Promotion told Truthout. “The other half of our health care is provided by the private sector, and that sector is deficient in their reporting of statistics. Hence, all of our statistics in Iraq must be multiplied by two. Any official numbers are likely only half of the real number.”

“Genocide”

“The world should know that Iraqi people were the victims of the aggression inflicted by the use of DU munitions by the American and British troops during these wars, and this is genocide,” Dr. Jawad al-Ali, a consultant physician and oncologist, told Truthout.

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