Sunday, May 30, 2010

All The King's Men and All the King's Horses

The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is not only an environmental catastrophe, it's an economic catastrophe for that region of the United States.

I know they've been consulting an army of experts, but I still don't understand why this has been going on so long. I'm reminded of a story I heard long ago about a tractor-trailer that the driver tried to get under a bridge that was too low. Traffic was snarled for hours as they tried using tow trucks and other means to pull it out, all to no avail. All the experts were stumped, until a little boy who had been in one of the cars that got stuck in traffic and was now in the group on onlookers said, "Why don't you just let some air out of the tires?" Problem solved.

Maybe there's something I'm missing, but it seems to me like all the solutions I've heard about involve experts trying sophisticated techniques of some kind or another, when a brute-force attack would be a better approach.

Instead of focusing all efforts such things as trying to calculate just the right density and adhesive qualities of slurry to pump into the well head, why not build a huge concrete dome with more than enough mass to counter the oil pressure, tow it out to sea and sink it over the well head?

Yes, I'm aware of the box idea they tried that failed. That was too small, with too little mass, because that wasn't an attempt to stop the leak, that was an attempt to cap it with an outlet that would still allow them to pipe up the oil to the surface. Forget all that. Just smother the thing.

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