Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Memo to oil engineers: lower expectations

One problem with the methods used to staunch the hemorrhaging of oil into the Gulf is that names if the approaches have suggested they will work.

Just to review: We have had blow-out preventer fixes (that fixed nothing), a containment vessel (that didn’t contain), a “top kill” plugging (that did nothing of the sort).

Next up is some kind of dome that is supposed to capture and divert the oil (we can only hope.)

The names have raised expectations so that when they failed, the failure seemed all the worse and the engineers that much more helpless and foolish.

The names also underscore the technological arrogance that got us in this fix to begin with.

What’s needed here is a little (make that "a lot of") humility.

Here are three sample names that might help, even if the methods don’t.

The “Cross-your-fingers” containment method.

The “What do we know? We’re new at this” plug approach.

The “It’s at least worth a try” capping device.

Imagine the surprise, the sheer joy, if one of these actually worked!

And if they fail? Well, at least we’d been warned.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Rick, Kate's friend Lulu here.
Suggestions for plugging the gusher include:

1. Plug the hole with Sarah Palin
2. Plug the hole with Janet
3. Plug the hole with Lisa Jackson
4. Plug the hole with Joran Van Der
From all appearances, it may take all 4...

10:42 AM  

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