Little Credibility Left

Bad enough that the federal agencies have put politics ahead of science in addressing the Deepwater Horizon event.  But attempting to discredit academic science?  From the St. Petersburg Times yesterday, this headline “USF says government tried to squelch their oil plume findings“.  Quoting briefly:

“I got lambasted by the Coast Guard and NOAA when we said there was undersea oil,” USF marine sciences dean William Hogarth said. Some officials even told him to retract USF’s public announcement, he said, comparing it to being “beat up” by federal officials.

The USF scientists weren’t alone. Vernon Asper, an oceanographer at the University of Southern Mississippi, was part of a similar effort that met with a similar reaction. “We expected that NOAA would be pleased because we found something very, very interesting,” Asper said. “NOAA instead responded by trying to discredit us. It was just a shock to us.”

To be fair, in an interview with the Washington Post yesterday, Hogarth made clear that the officials that told him to retract USF’s announcement were not from NOAA.

Hogarth said one agency had, indeed, asked him to retract the school’s announcement. But he wouldn’t say which agency–other than to say it wasn’t NOAA.

That should help bring about accountability.


And on the words count front, this from the very end of the Washington Post article:

But she [Lubchenco] said that the word “plume” had given the public the wrong impression: what was under the surface was really highly diluted oil droplets, not thick black concentrations of crude. NOAA prefers to call them “clouds,” instead of plumes.

Maybe it is the first “A” in NOAA that causes the confusion.  There is no question these are plumes.  Could this be why NOAA didn’t reach out to the broad scientific community that works on oceanic plumes?

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