September 1, 2010

Oil Ship Captain Leads Clean Earth Initiative

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16 years ago, Capt. D.C. Anderson decided to bypass a doctoral program at Yale University to assume a more direct initiative against climate change.  He was inspired by the wisdom of an associate, “we don’t need another thesis collecting dust on the shelf.”

“After that, my life has never been the same,” he explained.

In his lecture on Friday, Anderson described the role of BP (formerly British Petroleum) oil in the overarching theme of climate change.  Anderson spent over 40 years in the oil business, working with a tug-supply vessel.

“I learned that the United States Coast Guard could make or break my company with a flip of the wrist … What I need to do, I was desperate to manipulate the Coast Guard,” Anderson related, highlighting the techniques he employed to bypass regulations early in his career.

“The Coast Guard business is not transporting oil or pumping oil or cleaning oil. Their job is enforcing the regulations concerned with oil … they are very good at what they do,” he said. “I don’t think they know the first thing about pumping oil because BP pulled the wool over his [Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral, ret.] eyes. They did the exact same thing I did on a grand scale.”

He asserted throughout the lecture that he strongly believes that BP manipulates the public by limiting its access of information, as demonstrated by their jumping estimations about amount of oil being released in the early stages of the spill.  He also claimed that BP mislead the public about the effectiveness of dispersants, used by clean-up crews to prevent the settling and clumping of crude oil.

“There was no reason … they ever should have put dispersants on crude oil,” Anderson said about the chemicals BP used to dilute the oil spill. “[Dispersants] are great. I used them all the time. I used Dawn Soap … but that’s [on] processed oil.”

According to Anderson, dispersants are effective on processed oil because processed oil is uniform in appearance, texture, and composition.  Because natural, crude oil is not uniform, dispersants dilute it less effectively.

“Crude oil is mud. That’s all it is.”

“They broke it into the tiny particles … they dumped enough of it on it so it broke down the crude into tiny little pieces, but it isn’t going anywhere!” he continued.

He says the irresponsibility of BP reflects a greater picture of corporations and governments, who have placed the planet in a compromised position.

The similarities between modern societies and ancient, collapsed civilizations terrify Anderson, he said. He related the popular tale of the Easter Islanders, whose population size grew until it exceeded the environment’s maximum capacity. Consequently, the Easter Islanders suffered, and the results of their great population size included preoccupation with displays of worship (moai statues), separation, and internal conflict.

However, Anderson reflected on multiple reasons for individuals of varying social classes to deny necessary changes in their behavior, like those who live too comfortably to be bothered to those who believe that their hard-working family has earned a particular lifestyle.

Anderson believes that young people — university students in particular — must take control of the situation.

Reflecting on his youthful adventures during the Vietnam protests, he explained that a similar movement is necessary. He believes that modern students are at a disadvantage because the crisis is less pressing and there remains a lack of direct, motivational images.

“We had a huge advantage you don’t have … We had Walter Cronkite able to put Vietnam in our face every night.”

However, he said that mobile devices and Twitter has made organization far easier. The internet’s group channels and communication gateways allow groups to share ideas and mobilize initiatives far faster than Vietnam-era technologies.

Anderson’s personal movement is a grass-roots movement that will hopefully involve live newsfeeds from a ship, called the “Planet Earth-Ship”, that will move from harbor to harbor. while calling attention to important global environmental and human issues. He continues to face major setbacks while attemtping to finance his project.

““The fabric of your civilization is beginning to show wear … we can not continue to live beyond our means,” he said.

Original Author: Tajwar Mazhar