The damaging effects of the BP Spill: You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Mother Jones has pre-launched the magazine's September/October cover package online due to timeliness (for non-newsheads, this is the sort of thing Rolling Stone was criticized for not doing with the McChrystal interview). The short version: "BP and the government say the spill is fast disappearing--but dramatic new science reveals that its worst effects may be yet to come."

The Mother Jones articles "look past the recent positive spin on the Gulf oil spill aftermath, at effects of oil and dispersants on the deep ocean ecosystems that scientists are only just beginning to understand," editor Mike Mechanic tells Boing Boing.

Links: BP's Deep Secrets (the package overview link), and here's Julia Whitty's lead story. Another one in the series, not to miss, explores Corexit's toxicity.

[Illustration for Mother Jones by Tim O'Brien]


  1. On the plus side, most of the species the spill will kill off haven’t been discovered yet, so really it’s like we aren’t losing anything at all, right?

    1. Most of the species the spill will kill off haven’t been discovered yet, so really it’s like we aren’t losing anything at all, right?

      It’s better than that.

      BP (and friends) have ensured that the future will be rich in paleological evidence of those “undiscovered” species.

      Once the oceans dry up, newly exposed beds of oily mud will reveal a wealth of well-preserved specimens. Something like the La Brea tar pits, for sea creatures.

  2. Given that Mother Jones bought into the discredited pseudo-science junk about exploding methane bubbles, cracked seabeds, underwater oil lakes, hidden oil, collapsing/flying BOPs, and all the rest of the conspiracy theory garbage that people like Matt Simmons and Richard Hoagland were peddling throughout the disaster, I have a hard time buying the accuracy of their coverage of the aftermath.

    Seriously, this was a headline and story they published:

    Cloudy With a Chance of Tarballs? Can it rain oil? Judge for yourself.

    Followed by a youtube video someone shot of oil slicked rain water running down the road into the sewer.

    Much as I love them, many on the left simply went off the deep end with this entire disaster, and are still showing no signs of climbing back out.

    1. Looking at old articles? Stop living in the past, man! We’ve got to keep jumping from panic to panic to panic. It’s a little thing I like to call “Journalism”.


  3. I agree completely with Brillo. I don’t know why but these events bring out all the wackos. I’m not interested in making light of the situation but would rather get to the facts.

    Oh and that youtube video of the cajun talking about raining oil…that was probably a result of his poor oil change on his beat up truck.

    1. All I have been hearing are folks saying the oil is completely gone and the left made a big deal out of nothing. Methinks the truth, like the oil, probably lies somewhere between.

      1. I haven’t heard anyone say the oil is completely gone, including the much maligned gov’t report from a week or so ago.

        And I at least am not saying the left made a big deal out of nothing. I just think much of the science got buried in panicky conspiracy theories and pseudo-science.

        1. Brillo. Many who speak of ‘the left’ have a tendency to see and point out ‘panicky conspiracy theories’ and ‘pseudo-science’ in others. Wonder why that is?

          I am a calm lefty scientist. you are wrong. carry on, I’ve said my peace.

  4. why on earth they named the stuff corexit is beyond me.

    “too high a number in your pollution statistics? corexit corex it.”

    but i have the impression that their spin is actually working out pretty well for them. i mean, bp and bo.


    1. that is exactly why they named it. in the oil industry “the solution to pollution is dilution” because dilution is much cheaper than prevention.

  5. Brillobreaks is right on the money.

    Mother Jones has about as much credibility as BP concerning the long term effects of this disaster.

    Also, because these “findings” sit nicely in a Xeni posting does not necessarily mean that the information is based on good science.

  6. Disclaimer, I am NOT a scientist. As a result, I recognize that I’m not qualified to make specific claims as to what sort of outcome we should expect; I don’t understand anywhere near enough about the actual physics and biology involved in the dynamic relationships that comprise an entire ocean’s many biospheres.

    But, I am confident in saying this: If you expect the Gulf of Mexico to absorb a massive quantity of oil (even the low-end of the estimate is a f**kton) released in a very short period of time without any noticeable long-term impact beyond some gross clumps of oil on beaches this season, I wish to purchase a ticket on the Flying Unicorn Express to your planet, because it sounds delightfully whimsical and surreal, and I haven’t had a really great vacation in a while.

    (BTW: First acceptable result in GIS for “flying unicorn express”:

    Seriously. I don’t even think English has a hyperbole-related adjective to describe this. Some sort of collision between Gargantuan and Armageddon. Environmentally, this is a gargantugeddon.

  7. Just wanted to say that I enjoy Tim O’Briens’ calm serene aqua portrait of massive vertebrate death. If one squints at the monitor the two fishy skeletons in bottom left corner become a t-rex/veloceraptor skull. . .

    I guess all that oil was dinosaur bones anyways (ok, old plankton and trees. . .but still). . .

    Didn’t Limbaugh say something about: ‘Let the ocean heal itself: it’s all natural; all from Nature’?

    Some wag responded: drink some Lava Rush. . .

    (but just for kicks: what if that blowhard is right?! I remember reading MJ articles in my parents Utne Reader back in the day: they make the Village Voice look like the Weekly Standard. haha?)

    No disrespects to the scientists; but I’d much rather hear from the fishermen. Every day since the damn well was capped two weeks ago, the Net and National take has been: ‘but wait!’ ‘could explode again!’ ‘million other possible disasters COULD happen!’ ‘stay tuned!. . .’

    ENOUGH! Show me the Tsunami, Bitches!!! If it’s broke: fix it. If it has been fouled: clean it up. And if some poor living thing is choking and suffocating in an oily sarcophagus: then clean it up or kill it quick! And if BP must be sued to the Nth degree: well get the fuck to it!!!

    But people catching the vapours and megrims over ‘what might maybe be’ is, frankly, a waste of time.

    Reminds me of a good friend of mine, otherwise intelligent and well liked; who was SURE (not only that 9/11 was a Right-wing conspiracy) that Dubya/Cheney were undoubtedly going to create another atrocity to stay in power past the ’08 election.

    I stood by and continue to stand by the strength of our Democratic process as opposed to the strength of any strongman or cadres. (except of course the cadres of the previously politically connected, the wealthy, corporations and the Military Industrial Complex.)

    Yes the mess is ugly: but you love that oil my fellow top 10% of all humanity in wealth and freedom computer using English speaking sophisticates. . .when it goes away; so much of what we take for granted will be gone forever.

    Thank you Saudi Arabia (the House of Saud) for your deep sweet crude; we will gladly support your horrible tribal backwardness in return for it.

    Thanks you deep water drillers: you risk your lives and our environment so our beaches stay pretty.

    Thank you American soldiers

  8. (oops wanted to stop from ‘Yes the mess’ damn it) : dont drink and comment!

    but to finish: thanks young dudes for keeping a footprint in that crazy Middle East so we can enjoy cheap jeans and fruits from Chile in the dead of winter.

    And please continue to keep gasoline cheap so i never ever have to ride crappy Muni and have bag ladies fall on me screaming or junkies pull off their scabs in the seat next to me.

    (I really tried to stop. . .) hahahahahah

  9. MJ and her readers need to take a breath and zoom out just a bit to get some perspective.

    I’m familiar with the chemicals in Corexit and I can point out that the generic equivalents pour into that area and the entire Gulf on a far greater volume each and every day and have for decades.

    Take a brief look NW of the Deepwater site and notice the mouth of the Mississippi and her delta.

    The Gulf is naturally a warm body of water with a higher than average oil content. That’s precisely what makes it such a prime habitat for marine life.

    Corexit and the oil companies aren’t your enemies here, incompetence of government (planning and CG response initially which allowed the well to sink), the cover-up and the willing ignorance of the media should be of far greater concern.

    If the plans in place had been followed and the CG responded to the fire and actually worked to put it out, the rig would not have sunk and the spill would have been only a minor surface spill contained and recovered within days.

    Going after Corexit is barking up the wrong tree as long as 1.6 million gallons of Mississippi River water dumps there. The entire amount of Corexit used by BP equals about 13 to 17 minutes of the same chemicals coming from the one river.

  10. Is Mother Jones forgetting that there was a spill very similar to this in the 1970s? Was there no research done at that time on the long term effects? Seriously, we really ARE doomed to keep repeating history if we can’t even look back 30 years to see the outcome of a similar situation. I know the 1970s spill was in much shallower water, but surely it was similar enough to glean SOME information.

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