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Naomi Klein: Why Climate Change Is So Threatening to Right-Wing Ideologues

"Climate change challenges everything conservatives believe in. So they're choosing to disbelieve it, at our peril."

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AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the trip that you took in the Gulf, and talk about how everything from Exxon Valdez to the spill, as we begin to wrap up, how to understand the effects of this, what you call "extreme drilling" in search for fuel.

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I went on a boat with a team from the University of South Florida. The chief scientist was David Hollander, who’s been one of the most outspoken scientists challenging claims, really from day one, that were coming from BP and federal agencies, originally saying, "Oh, there are no underwater plumes." They found one of the underwater plumes, along with Samantha Joye—her team also found one—and at every stage, you know, challenging the claims about how much oil was coming out of the well, and now challenging the claim that the oil has magically disappeared.

And that’s why I went out with David Hollander and his team searching for BP’s oil, because I think a lot of people have heard this message that, yeah, Mother Nature took care of it, you know, just like we heard in the early days of the spill: you know, the ocean is big, and the amount of oil is relatively small. And this is a really, really dangerous message, because we can’t see it anymore. And this is one of the advantages of using huge amounts of dispersant, is it disappears the crime scene. But so, I wanted to see it for myself.

And you can see the equipment that they’re using goes to the bottom of the ocean and extracts cores from the sediment. And what they found again and again around the well site is that there is a very thick layer of—not pure oil. It’s eroded. It’s mixed in with sand, and it’s mixed in with dead crustaceans. But there’s definitely oil covering a very large area. And the other thing that Dr. Hollander found, because he’s been going back every few months, is that that layer is getting thicker.

And we really don’t know what this is going to mean to the ecology, because—this is one of the things I was really struck by, working with these scientists, is that—even the most expert of the bunch, this is still a mystery to them. The deep ocean is so under-studied. They don’t have baselines to compare the areas that they’re studying to, because so little research was done about the deep ocean, in the deep ocean, before the spill. So, even to assess the damage is extremely difficult.

The other thing that they’re very worried about—and you asked about the Valdez disaster—is that it’s really far too early for anybody to be giving the Gulf a clean bill of health, because the really, really worrisome event that happened—and here, I’m only talking about the ecology; I’m not talking about the other huge issue, which is the effects of the dispersants on people. And other people have done fantastic reporting on that. I was just out with a research team in the ocean, so we were looking at microorganisms and—

AMY GOODMAN: Phytoplankton.

NAOMI KLEIN: Exactly. But the point of studying the effect of the oil on these microorganisms is that when—before the oil sunk to the bottom, before some of it evaporated, before it was skimmed, there was a great deal of oil and dispersants in plumes in the open ocean. These are—the key months were April, June—yeah, and this is spawning season in the Gulf of Mexico. And there were microorganisms, there were larvae, there was zooplankton that would grow up to be commercial fishing stocks, just floating in the open ocean in the same vicinity as the plumes, as the toxic oil and dispersants. And we won’t know what effect that had, those encounters of these very, very vulnerable microorganisms and the oil and dispersants. We won’t know that for years, because that’s what happened—that’s what we learned from the Valdez spill.

 
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