There is a heartwarming BBC report of research showing that nature largely detoxified BP's Deepwater Horizon contamination of the Gulf of Mexico within 18 months. The conclusions are astonishing, and far less qualified than one would expect for such a significant reversal of previous beliefs.
Even more comforting is the finding that the interventions of panicky environmentalists slowed the detoxification down and exacerbated the damage.
This may not do much for the US lawsuits against BP. There would appear to be grounds for BP to argue that 'mitigation' was as much a problem as their initial negligence.
We'll need to find out if our waters have similar organisms, and similar effectiveness. Hopefully New Zealanders can be more relaxed about the practical inability of our small economy to spray dispersants over our vast coastlines. More to the point, we might leave the next Rena more to nature.
Because there were no records of oil spills from wartime sinkings causing ecological disaster for us and our fisheries, and our long history of great volcanic releases into our seas, I was always suspicious of the catastrophy wallowers who lept onto the Rena "disaster". They fanned grotesque fears of oil to fuel iwi ignorance and keep up the woe levels. Sadly no national politician was prepared to risk a bit of sanguine common sense on the topic.
It will be interesting to see whether this research will reassure or simply inflame the people currently satisfying their need for enemies and anxiety, by pestering us about possible Great South Basin or the East Coast exploratory drilling.
I'll be amazed if they take it as the wonderful news it is. Those of a clerical bent really need to feel that humans will suffer for prosperity, and oil consumption is the perfect symbol of our wealth and ease. Unlike their credulity on receipt of "bad" news, they will refuse to accept this research until it has been minutely validated everywhere. Anything that may comfort environmental sinners is to be denied (because it is just too embarrassing to deplore it openly).