Time magazine reported Thursday that Rush Limbaugh might have been right about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico not being the environmental disaster that everyone warned.
In an article surprisingly titled, "The BP Spill: Has the Damage Been Exaggerated?", author Michael Grunwald first insulted the conservative talk radio host:
The obnoxious anti-environmentalist Rush Limbaugh has been a rare voice arguing that the spill - he calls it "the leak" - is anything less than an ecological calamity, scoffing at the avalanche of end-is-nigh eco-hype.
Yet, in the very next paragraph, Grunwald shockingly changed his tune:
Well, Rush has a point. The Deepwater explosion was an awful tragedy for the 11 workers who died on the rig, and it's no leak; it's the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. It's also inflicting serious economic and psychological damage on coastal communities that depend on tourism, fishing and drilling. But so far - while it's important to acknowledge that the long-term potential danger is simply unknowable for an underwater event that took place just three months ago - it does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage. "The impacts have been much, much less than everyone feared," says geochemist Jacqueline Michel, a federal contractor who is coordinating shoreline assessments in Louisiana.
Yes, the spill killed birds - but so far, less than 1% of the birds killed by the Exxon Valdez. Yes, we've heard horror stories about oiled dolphins - but, so far, wildlife response teams have collected only three visibly oiled carcasses of any mammals. Yes, the spill prompted harsh restrictions on fishing and shrimping, but so far, the region's fish and shrimp have tested clean, and the restrictions are gradually being lifted. And, yes, scientists have warned that the oil could accelerate the destruction of Louisiana's disintegrating coastal marshes - a real slow-motion ecological calamity - but, so far, shorelines assessment teams have only found about 350 acres of oiled marshes, when Louisiana was already losing about 15,000 acres of wetlands every year. [...]
Marine scientist Ivor Van Heerden, another former LSU prof who's working for a spill response contractor, says "there's just no data to suggest this is an environmental disaster. I have no interest in making BP look good - I think they lied about the size of the spill - but we're not seeing catastrophic impacts," says Van Heerden, who, like just about everyone else working in the Gulf these days, is being paid out of BP's spill response funds. "There's a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it." [...]
LSU coastal scientist Eugene Turner has dedicated much of his career to documenting how the oil industry has ravaged Louisiana's coast with canals and pipelines, but he says the BP spill will be a comparative blip; he predicts that the oil will destroy fewer marshes than the airboats deployed to clean up the oil. "We don't want to deny that there's some damage, but nothing like the damage we've seen for years," he says.
Interesting. So Limbaugh might not only have been right, but Time is willing to report that?
Somebody pinch me.
On the other hand, there may have been something else far more revealing in this piece for it did conclude with some politics:
The good news does suggest the folly of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's $350 million plan to build sand berms and rock jetties to protect marshes and barrier islands from oil. Some of the berms are already washing into the Gulf, and scientists agree that oil is the least of the problems facing Louisiana's coast, which had already lost over 2,000 square miles of wetlands before the spill. "Imagine how much real restoration we could do with all that money," Van Heerden says. (Watch TIME's video "Oil Spill Anxiety on the Bayou.")
Anti-oil politicians, anti-Obama politicians and underfunded green groups all have obvious incentives to accentuate the negative in the Gulf. So did the media, because disasters drive ratings and sell magazines; those oil-soaked pelicans you keep seeing on TV (and the cover of TIME) were a lot more compelling than the healthy pelicans I saw roosting on some protective boom in Bay Jimmy. Even Limbaugh, when he wasn't downplaying the spill, was outrageously hyping it as "Obama's Katrina."
So, Grunwald felt the need to take a swipe at a popular Republican governor that was doing his darnedest in this crisis to protect his state as opposed to what America saw from the White House.
But maybe most important were the references to Obama, for this could be the real motivation behind this piece.
After all, the President's poll numbers have truly plummeted since this leak started, and Democrats are now facing serious losses in the upcoming midterm elections.
With about three months to go before Election Day, if the media can make it appear that this spill wasn't the environmental disaster they warned, maybe Democrat losses won't be so bad in November.
Of course, this isn't to say that it wouldn't be great news for the region and our nation that the catastrophe-loving press tremendously exaggerated the crisis and that Gulf states will end up far better off than feared.
But wouldn't it be just like the Obama-loving media to now do their utmost to turn these lemons into lemonade for the Party they support?
On a related note, as this piece strongly pointed out how resilient Mother Nature is - much as conservatives like Limbaugh and George Will state on a fairly regular basis - maybe the other conclusion from this episode should be that such resiliency has also been witnessed over the millenia with regard to the constantly changing climate and will continue to be so.
As such, maybe press members and the Democrats they take marching orders from should lay off the global warming hysteria - or is that asking for too much logic from these people?
*****Update: This is what Limbaugh said on April 29 roughly a week after the Deepwater Horizon explosion...
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Our official climatologist, Dr. Roy Spencer has just sent me something. I've been wondering about this. He must have been reading my mind. We've got 5,000 barrels a day being spilled from the rig, and Dr. Spencer looked into it. You know, we've talked of this before. There's natural seepage into oceans all over the world from the ocean floor of oil -- and the ocean's pretty tough, it just eats it up. Dr. Spencer looked into this. You know the seepage from the floor of the Gulf is exactly 5,000 barrels a day, throughout the whole Gulf of Mexico now. It doesn't seep out all in one giant blob like this thing has, but the bottom line here is: Even places that have been devastated by oil slicks like... What was that place up in Alaska where the guy was drunk, ran a boat aground? (interruption) Prince William Sound. They were wiping off the rocks with Dawn dishwater detergent and paper towels and so forth. The place is pristine now.
You do survive these things. I'm not advocating don't care about it hitting the shore or coast and whatever you can do to keep it out of there is fine and dandy, but the ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and was left out there. It's natural. It's as natural as the ocean water is.