Following the news that BP has been busy donating money to politicians who deny the existence of climate change and global warming, BP’s new chief exec Bob Dudley does us a Tony Hayward and blames the media — and mean competing oil companies — for exacerbating a “climate of fear” over the summer with regard to the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Dudley, this is not the way to endear yourself to us
further. Per the New York Times,
In an address to the annual conference of a British business lobbying group, the CBI, Mr. Dudley said there had been “a great rush to judgment by a fair number of observers before the full facts could possibly be known, even from some in our industry.
“I watched graphic projections of oil swirling around the gulf, around Florida, across and around Bermuda to England — these appeared authoritative and inevitable,” he said. “The public fear was everywhere.”
Which is sort of like saying that the media reporting something that’s widely perceived as having negative connotations — say, war, or perhaps 9/11 — and using photos to illustrate those connotations, and maybe creating charts and getting information from experts to speculate as to the ultimate damage that might be sustained — is “generating public fear.”
Certainly, there is a journalistic responsibility in reporting anything. But is there any good way to present an oil spill, and should there be? Should the media have underestimated the damage for fear of creating a climate of public fear (not that that would have been possible, given the photographic evidence)? Of course not, not any more than we should have blown it out of proportion without any evidence. By the way, if we’re doling out blame, those pelicans were clearly negligent. Let’s remember how they willfully swam into that water during the numerous failed attempts to plug the leak, which went on for months.
During the spill, Dudley said that scientists were “scaremongering” when they claimed that the well was likely spilling 70,000 barrels per day, and that it was probably more like 5,000 per day. (And remember Tony Hayward’s comment that “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean…The volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume”?)
Well, in the end, a government panel estimated the overall leak at 62,000 barrels a day, which is certainly closer to 70,000 than 5,000. And independent researchers are still finding “significant amounts of crude below the sea’s surface, including on the ocean floor.”
But, you know, who’s keeping track?