[Coral-List] BP Oil Spill Response

Quenton Dokken qdokken at gulfmex.org
Wed May 12 23:53:25 EDT 2010

Hi Steve,

Your points are well taken.  I don't deny or alibi for bias, we are all biased one way or another.  My response was to the perception that was going around the world within 48 hours of the event that this spill was an unprecedented disaster and would ultimately result in the demise of the Gulf of Mexico as a productive body of water.  When, on the coral-list I was challenged on my comment " ... the sky is not falling.." quoted in the NYT I felt compelled to respond.  Other than being at 5,000 feet this spill is not "unprecedented," in fact in terms of volume it is not yet anywhere near the top.  It could get there if it is not shut off, but it is not there yet.  And, the Gulf has responded to greater spills numerous times including tankers sunk in WWII and the natural seepage that is occurring 24/7/365 and has for thousands of years.  Don't get me wrong, this a serious and destructive event and we must find ways to minimize the chances that it will ever happen again.  It is having impact; and the Gulf of Mexico does not have unlimited capacity to absorb the diversity of impacts of human activity.  

My biggest concern is that our society seems to have lost the willingness and ability to undertake critical thinking/analysis.  We find someone saying what we want to hear and shut out the rest.  My hope for my sons and the future is that the science community can remain the cornerstone of critical thinking.  In the first days of this blowout event there were unfounded claims in every media outlet.  Some were founded in ignorance, but some could have been intentional. I am not conducting scientific investigations anymore, I am an advocate, but I am relying on those of you that are conducting science to keep the world honest.  

Thanks for communicating.


Quenton Dokken, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
PMB 51 5403 Everhart Rd.
Corpus Christi, TX 78411

Office:  3833 South Staples Suite S214
                Corpus Christi, TX 78411

361-882-3939 o
361-882-1262 f
361-442-6064 c


-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Steve Mussman
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 5:45 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] BP Oil Spill Response

 Since you are concerned that your comment “that the sky is not falling”
has offended some on Coral-List and you attached my post as evidence, 
I would like an opportunity to reply.

 Although it appears that you would prefer to keep Coral-List as an exclusive
gathering of scientists, I have felt welcomed here in the past and the site 
itself describes it's purpose this way: 
 “The list is primarily for use by coral reef ecosystem researchers, scientists
and educators, but is of course open to everybody.” 
(If it makes you feel a bit more at ease, I was an educator for thirty years
and I read a lot.)

 As far as being offended by your comments, I wasn’t outraged by anything
that you said, but I also believe that those that are voicing greater uncertainties
about the “potential” environmental impact should not feel inhibited to express
their concerns. I haven’t seen anything posted here that even resembles hysteria. 
(The mass media will do what they do, it is best to apply your own filtering
mechanisms to such sources.) 
 My previous comments take issue not with what you said, but with any attempt
to restrain debate, combined with the fact that there appears to be reason to 
question the level of unbiased objectivity you can apply to this situation. 
(I only bring this up because you insist that the science should be more 
objective and impartial and I totally agree.)
 You claim that it takes a creative imagination to see bias in your advocacy.
I value creativity, but would prefer to avoid more details that could be
misinterpreted as the casting of aspersions. That is not my intent. 
  By the way, I see little purpose in focusing on who is to blame.
There are certainly the obvious suspects to round up. BP, Tansocean and Haliburton
come to mind, but in reality, we are all culpable. As long as we continue to demand
more fossil fuels without due regard for environmental impact, situations like this
will continue to be a fulfillment of our collective destiny.


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