What Happened To All That Oil That Spilled in the Gulf?

From “Gulf oil spill was abated by bacteria that feed on hydrocarbons, report says” (Washington Post):

No, but the vast majority of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill is already gone, according to a final government report released last month. That report, along with several experts contacted by the Lantern, provides a detailed picture of the oil spill and its aftermath.

Trying to remove all oil from the gulf would be a Sisyphean task. Every year, oil tankers, drilling platforms and boats spill more than 310,000 gallons of oil into the gulf. But even if we halted human activity in the gulf, natural seeps from the sea floor would still send 42 million gallons of oil into gulf waters each year.

These seeps actually prevented the BP spill from being an even worse disaster. The gulf has more natural seeps than any other body of water in or around North America. Because of this constant supply of hydrocarbons, there is always a healthy population of bacteria floating around the gulf looking for more food. When BP’s well blew out, these tiny creatures went into a feeding frenzy. (The lack of natural seeps, and oil-eating bacteria, is one of the reasons that Alaska’s Prince William Sound has been slow to bounce back from the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989.)

Related:

BP Oil Spill: Private Property is the Solution
How a Capitalist Government Would Handle the BP Oil Spill

Environmentalists Kill and Maim Dozens in Texas: How Environmental Regulations Reduce Safety and Productivity in the Energy Industry
A steadily-declining number of refineries, coupled with an ever-growing demand for the products of refineries, means companies must push their plants to the limit; many today operate at 95% of capacity, well above the norm for industry in general. That leaves little time for the maintenance, repair or upgrade of existing plants. This necessarily leads, in turn, to less-safe equipment and less-safe operations. Obviously, more regulation and more fines cannot possibly solve this problem.

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Think TSA Groping Was Bad? Search and Seizure Without Warrant

Glenn Greenwald brings to light some scary facts about the so-called Depart. of Homeland Security. In “Homeland Security’s laptop seizures: Interview with Rep. Sanchez” he writes:

For those who regularly write and read about civil liberties abuses, it’s sometimes easy to lose perspective of just how extreme and outrageous certain erosions are.  One becomes inured to them, and even severe incursions start to seem ordinary.  Such was the case, at least for me, with Homeland Security’s practice of detaining American citizens upon their re-entry into the country, and as part of that detention, literally seizing their electronic products — laptops, cellphones, Blackberries and the like — copying and storing the data, and keeping that property for months on end, sometimes never returning it.  Worse, all of this is done not only without a warrant, probable cause or any oversight, but even without reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in any crime.  It’s completely standard-less, arbitrary, and unconstrained.  There’s no law authorizing this power nor any judicial or Congressional body overseeing or regulating what DHS is doing.  And the citizens to whom this is done have no recourse — not even to have their property returned to them.

[...] What kind of society allows government agents — without any cause — to seize all of that whenever they want, without limits on whom they can do this to, what they access, how they can use it:  even without anyone knowing what they’re doing?  

[...] Back then, this was painted as yet another Bush/Cheney assault on civil liberties, so one frequently heard denunciations like this from leading Democrats such as Sen. Pat Leahy:  “It may surprise many Americans that their basic constitutional rights do not exist at our ports of entry even to protect private information contained on a computer. It concerns me, and I believe that actions taken under the cover of these decisions have the potential to turn the Constitution on its head.”  But now that this practice has continued — and seemingly expanded — under the Obama presidency, few in Congress seem to care.

Indeed, even in the wake of increasing complaints, Congress has done nothing to curb these abuses or even regulate them.  But at least one member of the House, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat, is attempting to do something.  Rep. Sanchez has introduced a very modest bill — H.R. 216 — requiring Homeland Security to issue rules governing these searches and seizures so that they are no longer able to operate completely in the dark and without standards.  The bill would also impose some reporting requirements on DHS (Section 4); provide some very modest rights to those subjected to these seizures as well as some minor procedural limits on DHS agents (Sec. 2); and would compel “a civil liberties impact assessment of the rule, as prepared by the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security” (Sec. 2(b)(9)). [Glenn Greenwald, "Homeland Security's laptop seizures: Interview with Rep. Sanchez", Salon]

 Search and Seizure without warrant does not need to be regulated, as it is unconstitutional. This is the proper approach.

Related Reading: My TSA Encounter

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The Death of Neoconservatism: Six Questions for C. Bradley Thompson @ Harpers

1. At the core of your book is the notion that neoconservatism is dead. But consider that Politico recently published an analysis of Obama’s Middle East policies in which ten of eleven persons quoted were neocons (the eleventh was a Palestinian). The Washington Post’s editorial page is rapidly becoming a neocon fortress. Is it really time to talk about the “death” of neoconservatism?

2. What do the neocons mean by “governing philosophy,” and how does this affect the way they engage in politics in America?

3. Irving Kristol’s argument for capitalism is, you conclude, remarkably luke-warm. Where do neocons part company with advocates of a pure market economy?

4. You link the neoconservatives closely to the writings of Leo Strauss, and particularly to his book Natural Right and History, which you say “may very well be one of the most profound and deadly philosophic assaults on America ever written.” What do you mean by this?

5. Leo Strauss’s 1933 letter to Karl Löwith, in which he acknowledged his adherence to “fascist, authoritarian, imperial” principles has drawn a lot of attention lately. Strauss adherents treat it as a sort of aberration. Are they right to push back in this way?

6. You suggest that a willingness to prepare for and wage wars lies right at the heart of neoconservatism. Has this affected American foreign policy in the last decade?

Read the answers at Harpers.

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Richard Salsman @ Forbes: A Golden Decade Of Government Failure

The past decade was “golden” for investors — but only for those who actually held gold and avoided such typically touted holdings as stocks or bonds. Even as finance professors kept insisting that investors “hold stocks for the long run,” one could observe gold’s price increasing by 410%, while U.S. stock prices declined 10%. More amazing perhaps, especially for today’s stock-obsessed advisors, gold has registered gains for ten consecutive years — a performance consistency that U.S. stocks have never achieved.

The only way to have prepared oneself to benefit from this decade-long golden performance was to distrust government’s more invasive role in the economy — a premise as rare today as gold itself. Most policymakers, economists, investment  advisors and journalists applaud a larger government role in the economy, which is one reason that Keynes — who rationalized statist policies — has made a comeback after being discredited in the prior three decades.

Read the rest…

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Event: Summer Conference 2011 at the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism

Every summer The Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism hosts a three-day conference for undergraduate and graduate students. Students attend lectures, participate in small group discussions, and have free time to discuss and debate the ideas presented in the formal sessions. Throughout the three days of sessions, students have ample opportunity to speak one-on-0ne with faculty and ask them questions in a more informal setting. The summer conferences, held on the campus of Clemson University, provide a unique opportunity for students to study with leading professors from around the country, to meet top students from around the world, and to study capitalism in a challenging, engaging environment.

The Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism is pleased to accept applications for its fourth annual summer conference for college students. We invite you to join us for an exciting three-day program of lectures, seminars, and discussions. Students will arrive on May 26th and depart on May 30th, with the main event running on May 27th through May 29th.

Exciting Programs:
Students will participate in an intensive and exciting program exploring the moral foundations of capitalism and Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Students will attend lectures, participate in small-group seminar-style discussions, and question and answer sessions. Outside of class, students can relax and socialize on Clemson’s campus. Evening activities will include a barbecue dinner, a meet and greet with the faculty, and a career advice discussion.

Full Scholarships: All admitted students will receive a full scholarship, including reimbursement of travel expenses up to $500. All housing and meals will be provided on the campus of Clemson University, and reading materials will be provided

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Insight into the Logical Leap

Physicist David Harriman has started an online site where he gives insight into his excellent book, “The Logical Leap.” Sample articles include:

Writes Harriman, “The Logical Leap is written for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of how we discover generalizations. When we generalize from observed cases, how do we know that we’re right? My book tries to answer this question for the field of physical science, but the basic points of method can be applied to any field. It’s a “self-help” book (albeit on a more philosophic level). I will use this blog to elaborate on interesting topics in epistemology and in history of science. Also, I may give some background on how the book developed and what I learned while writing it. And, occasionally, I’ll comment on reactions to the book (positive and negative).”

Definitely worth a visit.

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Six Myths and Realities About Oil

Over at Fox News Alex EPSTEIN writes about “The 6 Myths About Oil”:

Every American consumes an average of three gallons of oil a day. Republicans and Democrats call this reliance on oil an “addiction”—an irrational, self-destructive habit that must be broken as soon as possible. This year’s BP oil spill disaster is only making the chorus to “end our addiction to oil” louder. But if we examine the most common arguments for this idea, we see that they are myths. Oil is a vital, viable, and desirable part of our energy future.

He goes on to list 6 myths (and their corresponding realities):

  • Myth #1: America’s reliance on oil is an “addiction”—an irrational, self-destructive habit. Reality: America’s use of oil brings indispensible value to our lives.
  • Myth #2: There are “green” technologies that are just as good, or better, than oil. Reality: There is zero evidence that any “renewable” can replace oil in any foreseeable future.
  • Myth #3: Because oil is finite, it will inevitably run out. Reality: There’s a lot more oil than you think—and if we have a free market in energy we will ensure that we find superior substitutes long before we run out.
  • Myth #4: Because oil is mostly in other countries, they can cut us off at will and create an economic catastrophe. Reality: International trade makes our energy supply more secure—and far more affordable.
  • Myth #5: Because oil money funds hostile dictatorships (Iran, Saudi Arabia) by using less oil we can make them poorer and make ourselves more secure. Reality: Direct threats to America must be fought through direct and decisive military action—not through multi-decade, sacrificial schemes to lower oil prices.
  • Myth #6: Because the burning of oil produces CO2, oil is a deadly pollutant that must be severely capped. Reality: Carbon-caps, not carbon emissions, are the real deadly threat to human life.

Read the whole discussion here…

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