If I Were Obama: Four Things I'd Have Done Differently After Hearing About BP's Oil Spill

If I were Obama--I would have taken a different approach after hearing about the BP Oil Spill.


1. I would have removed BP from being in charge of this operation and have them serve as consultants. The fundamental problem is that BP has been low-balling all of the estimates because they are fined at a rate of $1000.00 per barrel.

2. Call in the United States Navy. It turns out that already the Coast Guard and National Guard are being mobilized in dribbles but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Perhaps President Barack Obama should have called the Navy as soon as the sheer magnitude of the leak was revealed. After all, this is what Mikhail Gorbachev did back in 1986 when we had the raging reactor at Chernobyl just outside Kiev. He called in the Red Air Force and it was them who actually brought the tragic event under control. In fact, it was also the Red Air Force that eventually hit the reactor with borated water and concrete to seal it in a sarcophagus. These are the things that you can do when you control the military and this is what President Obama should have done from the start. People that are working to contain and cleanup the oil spill effort are working 24/7 and are both overwhelmed and tired and are in desperate need of reinforcements.

3. Bring in physicists from around the world who understand high pressure. The pressures are much higher down there (about 2,000 pounds per square inch) and even the capping method had to be modified specifically to operate at those depths. What eventually and partially worked was the injection of hot water which would then dissolve and melt some of the methane gas which was in solid form and clogging the riser pipe. So in other words, by trial and error; the scientists at BP are beginning to realize what a physicist could have told them from the very beginning.

4. Bring in the cavalry. Bring in empty oil tankers and get as many ships as you can with pumps, filters and skimmers in order to begin the clean-up operation. Instead of getting bogged down in red tape, President Obama should have cut through all of the bureaucracy much sooner and brought ships from around the world to start hauling in all this excess oil. Realize that the partial capping operation yields about 25,000 barrels per day. This is still 50% below the leak rate—we think. This amount alone is overwhelming the tankers because so much more oil is coming out than originally anticipated. Come August, everyone is hoping for two relief wells to go online. Relief wells are common; they're somewhat of a gold standard and have been proven time and time again to have an approximately 95 percent chance of working. The difficult part is trying to hit the right spot when drilling.  We're sending an arrow, 3-mile long drill deep into the ocean and trying to hit anobject the size of a dinner plate. The problem is that if you "miss" it the first time--you must back out the drill, fill the hole you've made with concrete and start the process over again—which could take weeks or months.

I was also featured on Good Morning America this morning speaking about the Oil Spill: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/bp-oil-leak-theoretical-physicist-michio-kaku-optimistic-11168751 and also CNN http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/07/15/am.seg.oil.cap.kaku.cnn?iref=allsearch

So in other words. The agony could extend to weeks or months... or even years. I suppose that we can only hope that there aren't any additional failed attempts to stop this massive leak or create more in the process.

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