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Singularity Watch: The Environment, The Future, and You

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Getting the status on the Deepwater Horizon plume is no easy feat. A month ago, Science Magazine reported on the “presence of a continuous plume over 35 km in length, at approximately 1100 m depth that persisted for months without substantial biodegradation.” And then a few days later the same journal thought we could expect “faster-than-expected hydrocarbon biodegradation.”

It seems you can believe whatever line you want on this one. Fortunately there are those who are tracking the tracking and interpreting it for us.

The conclusion? There’s a “panicked mania going on of random sampling that may or may not provide the data that we need to really assess the situation.”

No kidding.

Apparently, though, coordination between the various groups working on the disaster is finally taking place. Yesterday’s press conference from “Unified Command” has Paul Zukunft, Federal on-site Coordinator, telling us the 23,000 people working on this spill are finally acting in concert. Just ignore the fact that if you look down a little further there’s a question from a reporter about somebody somewhere dispersing dispersant even though Zukunft asserts that no dispersant has been dispersed since July 19th. Sounds like one of the 23,000 didn’t get the memo. But what can you expect when there’s so many folks in the trenches?

Considering the amount of people working on the problem, I think it’s safe to say the assertion that “there is still plenty of work remaining,” is an understatement.

Another thing we can safely assume is that regardless of how quiet the media has been on the oil spill ever since the gushing stopped, the ecological and economic systems in the region have been damaged. And we probably won’t know how much those 200 million gallons cost us for a while.

The point of all this is that whatever new and improved technology the race to the Singularity reaps, we will always have to be concerned with the cost of that technology. You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul forever. Whenever tech solves a problem, it seems like another one is created. And even if it turns out that this Deepwater spill isn’t as bad as all that, there are still problems elsewhere. Check out this story New Scientist reported on September 7.

According to the article the one time point source spill from Deepwater Horizon is small compared to the problems we’re going to see from 8500 wrecks scattered about the ocean floor, most of them from the World War II. Apparently these wrecks are going to begin leaking any day now, oozing more than twenty times the amount of oil from the Deepwater spill. Certainly it won’t be all in one fell swoop, but still, that’s a lot.

And in this case, it’s not BP’s fault. We’re all going to have to pay for the cleanup. Just like we will always be bailing ourselves out of the flotsam and detritus of modern tech life. Regardless of where we go with the Singularity, there will always be side effects of one kind or another to contend with. So be prepared.

I’ve made a tiny contribution to the current cleanup effort. I belong to an online publishing cooperative, Book View Café (BVC). Last week BVC published a benefit anthology, Breaking Waves. Most of the stories are related in some way to the Gulf, marine life, rescue, rehabilitation, or the environment in general. All proceeds from this ebook will go to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Relief Fund whose focus is to “help fishermen and their families in the following parishes: Plaquemines, St. Bernard, lower Jefferson, Terrebonne, and Lafourche.”

I donated my story, “Shark Attack,” to the effort. I know it’s not much, but it’s something. I’ve certainly contributed to the detritus that New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast, not to mention the marine animals living in deeper waters, must now contend with, so it’s the least I could do.

Why don’t you contribute something to the cleanup effort as well? You can do so easily by picking up a copy of Breaking Waves (available as pdf, mobi, prc, epub) from Book View Café or from the Kindle store. $4.99 either place. Or just donate to the Fund directly. It’s the “Donate” button.

Hang in there!

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About Sue Lange

  • kurt brigliadora

    Who is funding the effort? How long will it take to make a change…Who has the most to gain by the chage?

  • http://www.suelangetheauthor.com Sue lange

    Hi Kurt,

    Which effort are you talking about? The Gulf Coast cleanup? There are multiple groups working on it. And long after the area is declared “clean” again, there will be monitoring. I don’t think that’s what you mean by change, though.