Over the weekend, an anonymous email landed in my inbox. That’s not especially unusual: I subscribe to several community newsletters, and most emails arrive without the addy of the original sender.
Anyway, this one was talking about the deadly toxicity of the oil from the BP leak and about the fact that the U.S. military is preparing for massive evacuation of the Gulf Coast. He (or she) concluded the email by saying something to the effect of, “I know this sounds crazy, but my source on this is really, really good.”
Now, I may be crazy myself, but I’m not so completely out to lunch that I can’t spot a rumor born of mass hysteria. It often happens in the face of major disasters — we saw it after Katrina, with reports of carjackings and muggings and breakins amid the normally peaceful suburbs of Baton Rouge and Lafayette and the other places New Orleanians fled to. But as stressed out as we were then, we could see that such rumors were utter fabrications.
Still, just because I can spot them doesn’t mean I can shrug them off so easily. Things are tense here now, and they’re getting more so, and honestly, the last thing we need is a bunch of Cassandras running around, screaming in our ears. I can overlook the message, but shouting and mob mentality makes me want to cut a bitch.
Thankfully, Glenn had the good sense to share a link to American Zombie, which shed a little more light on the situation. Apparently, the whole thing started with a poorly researched, dodgily sourced, sloppily written article in the Washington Post (yes, that’s redundant). The author, Joel Achenbach, set the ball rolling by reveling in extreme case scenarios:
Week by week, the truth of this disaster has drifted toward the stamping ground of the alarmists.
The most disturbing of the worst-case scenarios, one that is unsubstantiated but is driving much of the blog discussion, is that the Deepwater Horizon well has been so badly damaged that it has spawned multiple leaks from the seafloor, making containment impossible and a long-term solution much more complicated.
Video from a robotic submersible, which is making the rounds online, shows something puffing from the seafloor. Some think it’s oil. Or maybe — look again — it’s just the silt blowing in response to the forward motion of the submersible.
More trouble: A tropical wave has formed in the Caribbean and could conceivably blow through the gulf.
“We’re going to have to evacuate the gulf states,” said Matt Simmons*, founder of Simmons and Co., an oil investment firm and, since the April 20 blowout, the unflagging source of end-of-the-world predictions. “Can you imagine evacuating 20 million people? . . . This story is 80 times worse than I thought.”
To which I say: FUCKTARDS.
And how is that a financial trader who is known for promoting the highly contended notion of “Peak Oil” (basically states the planet’s oil needs have now surpassed it’s capacity) knows what the emergency preparedness plan is for the entire Gulf Coast? If the story is “80 times worse” than he thought, I’d like to know who wrote that story for him and informed him of DHS’s game plan. If the WaPo is breaking this news via a financial oil trader, buried seven paragraphs into the story, I’m not only questioning their integrity I’m questioning their business acumen. If this claim is true, it should be a headline on every news resource on the planet and the WaPo may have just landed the scoop of the century.
To make matters worse the very next paragraph quotes Coast Guard Admiral, and point man for the disaster, Thad Allen, talking about the integrity of the wellhead. Achenbach just prints the entire Gulf Coast will have to be evacuated in the wake of a tropical event, then instead of confirming that claim with Allen, he shifts the story to the integrity of the wellhead and the efforts on drilling the relief well.
Bottom line: I can handle realism, I can even handle pessimism, but I swear on my my collection of science fiction first-editions, I’ve nearly had it with the alarmists.