The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
See all the YouTube videos of the Sierra Club meeting here.
The fact is that there are members of the medical community who recognize that they are seeing people who have been poisoned. It is obvious to doctors who are seeing patients with flu-like symptoms, respiratory problems, acute toxic reaction and who are harboring toxins above the load recognized as toxic. There is no other word to use – toxic. The patients they are seeing have been nothing short of poisoned. Issues arising from this are both current and future heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and in death.
Three scientists spoke at the Sierra Club: Robert H. Weisberg, Ernst B. Peebles and David Hollander. The same three have appeared and spoken together before groups in Florida before. The last to speak, and perhaps (based on my impression) the best was Dr. David Hollander.
As Dr. Holloman’s research centers most closely on Isotopic biogeochemistry and organic geochemistry; Paleoenvironmental reconstructions; Origin of organic-rich deposits, Chemical Sedimentology, Archeometry etc., his analysis of the oil proves absolutely invaluable in determining that the toxic parts per million of oil now present in the gulf do indeed belong to the BP spill and not some other leaking oil from elsewhere. He came across as a serious academic, as an honest man who genuinely cared about his field and as someone who definitely knows how to inspire enthusiasm in students.
Ernst B. Peebles was the least exciting of the group of scientists. His delivery was dull, safe, stock issue supporting industry status quo. In the lobby after the presentation his answer to a young woman about BPs oil in the Gulf was that the microbes were eating it. However, in the video I took at 1 hour and 10 minutes into the conference it was specifically stated that the oil is not dissolving. It is not going away. As debate goes, Ernst Peebles is attacking his own team’s plank of evidence that points to how much damage the BP toxic oil spill has caused and continues to cause, and he is weakening the platform of evidence provided by the other scientists who are not ignoring evidence.
I did not get the impression that Dr. Peebles was excited about his work or that he was (or wanted to be) involved in the current plight of the general population hurt by BPs toxic spill. While in general his research data is useful he didn’t go far enough to establish BPs culpability. In one section of the video he shows a photo where a piece of their scientific equipment touched bottom and came up covered with oil. He says that he did not show that photo to anyone, nor did he and his team of “scientists” think it was necessary to have the oil on the piece of equipment tested to see if it belonged to the BP Oil Spill or not. If Dr. Peebles were a detective investigating a crime and his forensics team found blood on a carpet but failed to bother checking whose blood it was I would call that detective’s work sloppy and his analysis of the crime scene incomplete. Dr. Peebles’ analysis of the BP Gulf Oil Crime Scene evidence he found wasn’t just incomplete, but it wasn’t even turned in as evidence. He says himself that he showed the photo to nobody until now. Thankfully, Dr. David Hollander did perform such testing of bottom oil, but in a different area – however an opportunity to collect more accurate data on the full extent of BPs spill was missed thanks to Ernst Peebles. Tragically there is no easy way to go back and re-test the areas Dr. Peebles worked. The money has already been spent and an obvious opportunity wasted. What is perhaps worse is that during the meeting plankton was discussed, which is the base of the food chain for the gulf ecosystem. It was stated that the research performed did not concern itself with plankton, but only higher species. A big mistake. Monitoring and reporting on the health of the bottom of the food chain must be part of the research. It is most particularly disturbing that Ernst Peebles “Research Interests” listed in his areas of expertise specifically include words like “zooplankton supply, quantified ichthyoplankton, invertebrate zooplankton distribution and abundance responses, research oriented toward developing a bio-optics system that will be used to create a landscape perspective on estuarine fish/zooplankton/hyperbenthos interactions with phytoplankton blooms, phytoplankton sedimentation events, and areas of high benthic microalgal growth”. Dr. Peebles apparently preferred to dismiss this question with a vague answer implying that it was either too difficult to answer quantitatively, or that he wasn’t an expert in that field. It was also reported that the toxins in the spill have mutagenic properties which cause permanent mutation in the genes of ocean (and other) organisms. Mutagenic toxins – not just long term harm but permanent harm to Florida’s wildlife due to BP. This was expressed as a concern but the obvious question is this: “What happens to shrimp and shellfish living in and ingesting water with 200+- PPM BP toxic oil and added chemical toxins (reported to be mutagenic) that are then eaten by pregnant women (and others)?” Ernst Peebles downplayed both the amount and the toxicity of Correxit and referred to public concern as “a little too much hysteria”. He also downplayed the importance of turbidity – “Real quick regarding the turbidity effect on fish, ahh, turbidity itself is just suspended material in the water, and again, it’s going to have a toxic effect in some cases. There’s no direct attraction to turbidity or away from it in that type of open water eco-system. A lot of this is very poorly lit depth and depths. The depths are so deep that there’s not a lot of sunlight to begin with so the fact is that the particles are going to neither attract nor repel animals, necessarily, based on behavior responses” Why is he talking about sunlight or lack of sunlight? These are toxins suspended in the water [turbidity=suspended material], he isn’t directly answering the questions but dancing around them. The questioner is asking what the effect the turpidity has on FISH SWIMMING IN IT, not “is turbidity attractive to the fish,” or “is there enough light in the turbidity” – this is plain nonsense. A straight answer is what is wanted, something like “Fish in turbid waters are experiencing increased levels of illness and death, their bodies are becoming toxified and they are not safe to eat.” or “Fish who swim in BP toxified turbidity are not affected by these poisons”. He has entirely sidestepped the question and given a non answer.
Dr. Robert H. Weisberg’s area of expertise is the physical movement of the water and circulation that carries the oil with it. His job was (and still is) to perform tracking and forecasting for NOAA and also various other agencies and the state of Florida using six different models to account for error. He delved into various issues involving deep water currents as well as coastal shallower currents and upwelling currents bringing oil up onto the shelf. The deeper oil prefers not to move very fast in deep water which moves much more slowly. His primary concerns dealing with current tracking aren’t with toxicity but movement involving wind and larger scale motion currents such as the loop current. He did make this statement “The point is that the longer it goes on, the larger the distance this thing is going to be spread. in this particular model we have no provision for decay, either by chemical or biological processes, and we have no confirmation. So I don’t know how much validity any of this stuff has any more, while the frustration is our so called Federal Family still does not have a comprehensive subsurface sampling plan in place and so I doubt we’ll ever know just where this stuff has gone and (coughing in audience) nobody ever cares in the Federal Family to know just where this stuff has gone. It’s very important to know though because one materials get onto the continental shelf those materials can make onto the beach. Not at the surface level but below the surface. ” He was visibly frustrated by some of what he was reporting – and for me, again, his statements that “we have no provision for decay, either by chemical or biological processes, and we have no confirmation” flies directly in the face of Ernst Peebles’ later remark that “the microbes are eating it” as if “that’s it, all gone”.
The scientists who spoke at the Sierra Club did not consider the human condition when they looked at animal mortality and animal health in and around the Gulf. This, in my opinion is as huge a mistake as not looking at the effects on plankton or not performing an isotope fingerprint on oil gathered from the bottom. The directors of the Sierra Club, by refusing to address any of Trisha Springstead’s questions also refused to acknowledge that people are biological organisms too. They are living in denial and are playing an extremely dangerous game with the public health of this region by foolishly refusing to recognize it is a biological fact that the human muscle, bone, blood organ and brain tissue are identically affected by toxins the same way as animals. They are foolishly refusing to publicly acknowledge that humans are equally in danger, and they are foolishly wasting the opportunity to lend the support of their voices and their data to the organization of Gulf Coast Barefoot Doctors working to defend the public health. It is a known fact that many have been paid off to look the other way. So the question in my mind is why would any publicly responsible organization working for social good want to work alone and not want to form even a temporary alliance with other people fighting for the same causes? Only by forming alliances, joining together and uniting our organizations, cooperating and sharing our collected medical and scientific research, only by presenting a united front can we ever hope to effect the social change necessary to raise our voices loud, long and strong enough to ensure that we have a chance of coming out of this better than the people who suffered the Exxon Valdiz oil spill disaster.
Repeatedly throughout the videos of the meeting scientists and administration claimed that there is no data available on the effects of a large oil spill like this – that they do not know the effects of the oil – when in fact there is a large body of gathered data documented by Dr Riki Ott, the PhD who worked so long and hard to gather that data after the Exxon Valdiz oil disaster in Alaska. Not once did any of the scientists or the staff running the Sierra Club meeting refer directly or indirectly to Dr. Ott’s research. Not once. Dr. Riki Ott worked with the fishermen, she spent years on the water learning first hand. True science is not just data gathered now, but also built upon the solid scientific research gathered by other scientists who came before. True science does not ignore the work of fellow scientists in the field.
The Sierra Club refused to answer the question of why the scientists at the Sierra Club meeting were not referring to Dr. Riki Ott’s research when they were saying that nobody had any answers. In the video you will see the Sierra Club take our questions written on 3×5 index cards – and you will see them select only those questions they hand picked to answer – in spite of Phil Corbin’s statement that they would. They never answered any of ours.
To Obtain a Toxic Survival Kit or to have one delivered to a Gulf Coast resident in need. See Gulf Coast Barefoot Doctors online or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn to become a Gulf Coast Barefoot Doctor here.
Trish Springstead, Anita Stewart and myself are here now blogging live from the Sierra Club. I video’d the whole thing start to finish (2 1/2 hours and created a separate audio mp3.
First I’d like to say that the meeting was not an open forum, but rather a totally controlled presentation which left no chance for the public to speak or directly ask any questions that the directors did not pre-approve.
How did they stop the public from asking questions openly? Rather than calling on raised hands as in a real public forum what they did instead was a little trick that allows them to screen out any questions they feel uncomfortable answering, and uncomfortable having their responses being examined later or have reporters write about.
What they did instead was hand out 3×5 index cards to be filled out with one question by each attendee. Then they collected the cards and divided them up into two groups of cards.
The first group of cards was to be answered by the scientist panel and the second group of cards was to be answered by the administrative panel.
Anyone angry that their questions weren’t being answered was told that their questions had been moved to the second panels answering session because they weren’t of the right nature for the scientists.
However by the time that the administrative panel was halfway through, dragging out their responses in general monotone and not being very informative, padding their answers with needless verbiage half of the audience had already walked out. Then when the questions weren’t answered everyone was getting up to go anyway – both the audience and the panel.
On our drive over to St. Pete from Brooksville Trisha told me she’d spoken to Phil and he’d emailed her and she said she felt that she’d been all wrong about him – “Take down what we wrote on the blog, I had him all wrong, he’s a real human being” But what happened next was straight out of Sun Tzu and the Art of War:
Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance.
In fact though, what Phil Compton was doing was setting Trisha Springstead up the whole time, preparing to hand out index cards and selectively screen questions – including all of hers. In his email to Trisha Springstead on Nov. 15th he wrote:
From: Phil Compton
To: Trisha Springstead
Sent: Tue, Nov 16, 2010 12:05:47 PM
Subject: Gulf Forum tonight
Dear Ms. Springstead,
I spoke with Anita Stewart yesterday and conveyed this to her. In case you have not been able to speak with her recently, I want you to know:
The information to be covered this evening will focus on the findings of the 3 researchers who will have the majority of the evening’s time to share their findings with the audience. I understand that your interest is primarily in human health effects? I do not know to what degree their data relates to humans specifically, but we will make every effort to ensure that such a question from you on such concerns is a priority for the Q & A period. As these particular researchers may not tonight present the type of data you are most interested in, I would like to discuss with you the possibility of working with Sierra Club and the other organizations involved in tonight’s event to organize a similar forum that does provide such a focus. As there are so many topics and concerns to cover with regards to the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we consider tonight to be just the beginning, not the end, of this public conversation, one that I hope we can work together to ensure that the public is aware of the facts as they are identified by researchers, facts that should drive restoration efforts and public policy regarding the Gulf of Mexico.
Please call me this afternoon if you’d wish to communicate further. My cell is the surest way to reach me today.
Phil Compton, Field Organizer, Sierra Club Florida Regional Office
111 2nd Ave. NE, Ste. 1001 , St. Petersburg, FL 33701
727-824-8813, ext. 303
That’s what Phil Compton wrote. But this is what he said to Trisha at the meeting: (Please go to original page for looped feed)
But as the second panel dragged on and on and the room emptied out there was no indication that Phil Compton or anyone else was preparing to answer even one of Trisha Springstead’s questions.
To the question of who funds the Sierra Club meeting – The chamber of commerce was the sponsor for the Nov 16th St. Pete Sierra Club meeting – that answers nothing – is BP a member of the St Pete Chamber of Commerce? What do you think?