The marine scientist whose report predicts the Gulf of Mexico will recover by the end of 2012 is defending his work as the product of long experience. Dr. Wes Tunnell drew his conclusion in a paper commissioned by the presidential commission on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. "With my 35 years of experience looking at other areas, this is the bottom line of what I think," Dr. Tunnell tells the NYT.
You might as well take him at his word. The problem for the public who'd very much like to do that is that his opinion is also shared by BP. Even before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, government regulators predicted that the Gulf of Mexico would recover quickly from an accident many times that size. They made that prediction partly based on research by Dr. Tunnell's school, Texas A&M. After the spill, a BP hydrogeologist relied on that research again when he told people in Alabama not to worry too much, that you could dump all the known oil in the Gulf into the water and still come out OK. (Seriously -- it's on the clip above, and he confirmed that was his opinion when I asked him.)
So maybe the Gulf of Mexico will bounce right back, with a few lingering problems in the marshes and so on as Dr. Tunnell now writes. We'd all like to see a speedy recovery. We all wish this had never happened. And we'd all like never to see this happen again.