Is Methane a BP Whistleblower?

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How much oil is leaking from the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon? Five thousand barrels a day? Or a whole lot more? And how would we ever know?

Well, David Valentine of the UC Santa Barbara writes in a Nature op-ed that were we to measure methane in the waters around the spill we’d know. That’s because some 40 percent of what’s leaking is likely to be methane—most of it dissolved in the water.

Valentine calculates that if 5,000 barrels a day were leaking  then some 7,500 tons of methane would have entered the Gulf in 27 days, driving methane concentrations to three times normal levels in a 2,000-square-mile, one-kilometer-deep stretch of the Gulf. He recommends that US research vessels start taking these measurements as an accurate means to assess the spill.

BTW, I posted a blog a day or two ago about Valentine’s work with dispersants and microbes, and all the bad potentials when the two meet.

H/T Roberta Kwok at Journal Watch Online.

The op-ed: Valentine, D. 2010. Measure methane to quantify the oil spill. Nature 465(7297), 421. DOI: 10.1038/465421a.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

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