June 28th, 2010
07:29 AM ET

TEDX OilSpill conference looks to fill information 'void'

The people behind the conference hope the disaster has reminded people of the importance of the marine ecosystem.

It is day 70 of the Gulf oil crisis. Millions of words and thousands of hours of video have been devoted to the explosion at BP's Deepwater Horizon rig and the gushing of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

And yet the organizers of a conference in Washington Monday think that there's actually a shortage of information about the disaster. The two technology entrepreneurs behind the conference, TEDx OilSpill, are hoping the event will start to fix that problem.

“There’s sort of this void right now with information coming out of the Gulf,” says Nate Mook. “Something catastrophic has happened. Most people don’t understand the underlying issues that led to this happening. They’re really not aware of the all of the complexities behind their getting into their car and driving … it’s brought to the forefront a lot of things that have been on the sidelines for a long time – with our oceans, with how important the marine eco-system is, with where we are getting our energy, what are we putting at risk, and … new technologies being developed.”

To answer those questions an array of speakers, from ocean explorer Sylvia Earle to energy expert Amory Lovins to “Leroy Stick,” the anonymous creator of the fake BP Twitter (@BPGlobalPR) account with more than179,000 followers, will speak onstage at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington from 9 am to about 7 pm. The event will be streamed at: http://tedxoilspill.com/live/. And people will gather to watch the stream or discuss the issues in 125 meetups around the nation and world.

Mook and fellow Internet entrepreneur Dave Troy began organizing the conference a little more than four weeks ago. They discussed the idea with TED, a nonprofit that organizes conferences and posts videos on its website to fulfill its mission of “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Mook said TED and other organizations enthusiastically supported the idea; (“TEDx” stands for an independently organized event with a license from TED.)

TED conferences began about 20 years ago, with a focus on technology, entertainment and design but the organization has widened its focus to include all sorts of subjects. Speakers who are passionate about an idea or an issue get up to 18 minutes to make their case.

Mook, 28, thinks the TED format is well suited to bringing more understanding to the Gulf crisis. “A lot of magic can happen when you bring people together across disciplines in one room and have them talk to each other,” he says. (CNN has a content partnership with TED.)

The event will include a report from an “expedition” team that traveled to the Gulf last week, using a seaplane to get a different vantage point on the disaster.

Part of the reason for what Mook and Troy see as a “void” of information about the crisis is that the Obama administration and BP each have reasons to be reticent. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation, a factor that’s likely to make people in government and at the company extremely reluctant to speak about the crisis.

The organizers reached out to people in the White House and a number of cabinet departments but couldn’t get a decision maker from the government to appear. “It’s potentially too dangerous for them because they can’t control the message,” said Mook. BP was similarly unresponsive, he said.

And maybe it’s just as well that the two antagonists in the drama won’t appear. “People are doing a very good job of looking back at this and not doing a very good job of looking forward,” said Dave Troy, a 38-year-old based in Baltimore who founded TEDx MidAtlantic. “People are very much interested in doing something to actually solve these problems instead of figuring out whose fault this is.”

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. BreakingNewsBlog.us

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    June 28, 2010 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
    • BreakingNewsBlog.us

      #

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      did BP (really) want to close its Gulf oil wellhead?
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      facebook.com/topic.php?uid=63811549237&topic=21112
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      nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/gallon_gas_9GlF3o1xIcIBelOV3k0RsK
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      TEDxOilSpill will explore new ideas for our energy future, and how we can mitigate the current crisis in the Gulf
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      tedxoilspill.com/
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      facebook.com/tedxoilspill
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      BP "wants" our ideas but it hasn't STILL revealed the EXACT dimensions of the wellhead!!!
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      June 28, 2010 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • qwerasdf

      @BreakingNews

      Zero science (CHECK)
      Zero math (CHECK)
      Zero calculations (CHECK)
      Zero facts (CHECK)
      Zero research (CHECK)
      5 year old imagination with a crayon (CHECK)
      No education (CHECK)
      Poor English (CHECK)
      Can't spell Oxygen (CHECK)
      Crappy idea that BP, US Gov, any government, any company won't take (CHECK)
      Ugly website (CHECK)
      Spam (CHECK)
      Someone who doesn't know how to skip lines and puts idiotic periods (CHECK)

      you are a complete joke. Get an education first.

      June 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Roger LeBlanc

    Hello Mr. Galant,

    There is no reason to give up on capping the broken pipe or providing a new pipe to carry the oil ot the surface where it can be contained. I do not have the computer skills to make a "wow" video graphic but people have said "wow" when they see my device. You can view a short Youtube video at this link:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBRCuiDFwS4&w=640&h=360]

    All the devices I have seen thus far use gasket/seals which are subject to icing and failure at such depths and pressures. My device eliminates the need for seals altogether, and BP cannot afford to use a device with seals that could fail and let this leak continue to be a problem. This should be a one time fix. Once my system is injected the concern of seals failing is completely eliminated because you do not use seals/gaskets to seal my device. This device will stop the leak completely, and if there is a danger of a shut down creating back pressure that would rupture any pipes, my device provides a solution for that as well.

    Let's get that leak shut down.

    Roger LeBlanc

    June 29, 2010 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Guixian Lu

    Brief description of Figures:
    Fig.1: Item 1 is an oil pan, formed by items 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Item 3 and 4 are oil guides. Item 8 and 9 are floats. Items 15-19 are oil sweepers, moving towards the oil pan.
    Fig. 2: Fig.2 is a cross section in Fig.1 cut at plan A_A and seen in the direction of the arrows. Item 7 is a door that moves up and down depending oil level coming towards it. Oil sweepers 15-19 are hung on the chain 14. Items 12 and 13 are chain wheels for chain 14. Item 10 is a oil pump. Item 11 is a water pump. Item 20 is water level in the ocean.

    Description:
    There is at least one oil sweeper to move oil on water between the oil guides 3 and 4 towards the oil pan. There are some sensors on the oil sweepers to determent oil level at the sweepers. The door is controlled by a microprocessor. The position of the door depends on the oil level at coming oil sweepers. Water pump 11 pumps out water from the oil pan. Oil pump10 pumps oil to a tank in the ship. There are sensors in the oil pan to detect oil level in the oil pan. The microprocessor determents the time to run the oil pump and the time to run the water pump.
    There are many oil pans linked in a line between two ships, moving in the oil spill area.
    Please tell me where to post my Figures.

    July 1, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Guixian Lu

    Hello Mr. Galant,
    I have posted my description. I can’t to post my Figures. Can you tell my how to send you the figures. My email is gluhundred@gmail.com.
    Thans!

    Best regards,

    Guixian Lu

    July 1, 2010 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |