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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Three weeks later: "Where is the oil?"

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 4:49 PM

It was Michael Grunwald's July 29 story in Time -- "The BP Spill: Has the Damage Been Exaggerated?" that set off a cascade of disingenous national media stories asking "Where is the oil?" And there's nothing more disingenuous than the use of the question mark in that headline, which allows for all kinds of wiggle room and crawfishing when people sit down and consider the obvious: that an oil disaster several times worse than the Exxon Valdez spill does not just "vanish." Grunwald may have been careful to make it clear that the long-term effects were unknowable, but that didn't stop other media outlets from running with that horrible, misleading, crawfishing headline as the takeaway, and so we had things like this:

click to enlarge where is the oil

click to enlarge vanity fair

click to enlarge diane

So today I'm wondering if this report by actual marine scientists -- not BP officials, not BP-paid experts, and not cable-news blowhards -- will get the same splashy treatment:

A report released today by the Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia concludes that up to 79 percent of the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem.

The report, authored by five prominent marine scientists, strongly contradicts media reports that suggest that only 25 percent of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill remains.

“One major misconception is that oil that has dissolved into water is gone and, therefore, harmless,” said Charles Hopkinson, director of Georgia Sea Grant and professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “The oil is still out there, and it will likely take years to completely degrade. We are still far from a complete understanding of what its impacts are.”

Download the UGA scientists' report here ... and then keep an eye out to see if it gets the same sort of screaming headlines occasioned b

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