Social Question

rebbel's avatar

Layman's help for oil rig disaster?

Asked by rebbel (28644points) May 4th, 2010

I’ve had this thought before with other (nature) disasters, and now again with the latest oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
I heard the plan from the BP company to put a dome over the principal leak tonight.
My thought is this: Would it be an idea to, whenever a major disaster takes place, launch a website where people from all over the world can put ideas to help recover/repair/ the troubles coming from those disasters?
Of course there is a lot of expertise in companies and/or governments, but aren’t there maybe also experts under the laymen of the world?

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23 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

No, I don’t see that being helpful. 99% of the posts would be stupid. If someone did have a good idea, it would be buried in a sea of crap. You need to understand a lot of very technical things to be able to troubleshoot something like this. Most people don’t even really understand what an engineer is. I’m sure there are a lot of people working on solving the problem. It is best left to experts that know what is going on and know what they are doing. If you have an idea you thing is worthy, you are supposed to be able to take that to your elected official and let them forward it on through appropriate channels.

And also, in order to offer a solution, you’d have to be supplied with adequate information defining the problem. Companies like BP probably would not want to divulge all the information necessary for a layman to come up with a feasible solution.

marinelife's avatar

I think that is a great idea. it could be manned by volunteers who could sift through all of the detritus and figure out which ideas to forward to the experts to ponder.

rebbel's avatar

I can see that happening too, a lot of junk coming in, but that could maybe be solved by what @marinelife is suggesting?
There only needs to be one good idea in a pile of hundreds or thousands.

CMaz's avatar

I say that we all launch a website where people from all over the world can tell @rebbel how to fold his underwear, and how to remove those unsightly skid marks. :-)

xxii's avatar

I think theoretically, this is a great idea, but it would be hard to implement.

First, there’s the issue mentioned by @lilikoi – searching for an innovative and practical idea would be like looking for a needle in a haystack (forgive the cliche).

Second, there’s the problem of making all the relevant information available to the public. There are a lot of details that complicate a situation and make many solutions unfeasible. Statistics, potential conflicts, competing goals, etc. Putting all that information online would be like opening a Pandora’s box, and certainly not everyone would be able to comprehend and interpret it as accurately as those who have spent a good amount of their lives learning how to do so.

Third, even if volunteers manned it to sift out the crappy ideas, what qualifies them to say whether an idea deserves attention or not? Sure, they’d be able to weed out obvious spam, but they certainly aren’t qualified to deem an idea practical or not when it comes to a problem as complex as this.

lilikoi's avatar

@xxii Thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking re: why this would be impractical and inefficient.

There is also the problem of no one taking laypeople seriously. Good luck getting anyone to pay attention to you.

Theoretically it is possible, but it is not the kind of endeavor I would back as a venture capitalist and not the kind of project I’d want to dedicate my life to because I think my time could be better spent elsewhere.

rebbel's avatar

Is already been taken care of. :-)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I think this is a great idea and I already emailed tons of local salons, barber shops and pet stores:

tinyfaery's avatar

Shouldn’t these companies have plans and procedures to immediately and effectively handle such situations?

rebbel's avatar

Exactly what i meant, ‘simple’ yet clever idea(s).

rebbel's avatar

Yes, i think you are right in that, but in case a major problem happened already and the environment is at risk we could use all ideas that people can come up with.

charliecompany34's avatar

get in a boat and have a fish fry.

lillycoyote's avatar

@rebbel and @DrasticDreamer It’s a nice idea but the rig has been spewing out about 200,000 gallons of crude oil a day. Is there enough hair; are there enough feathers and pantyhose in the universe to sop up that quantity of crude oil? I find it difficult to believe there is.

lilikoi's avatar

The first thing they need to do is stop the freakin leak!

@lillycoyote Exactly. People need to be realistic.

@tinyfaery I agree. Good point.

Cruiser's avatar

The thing that frosts my cookies is that these yahoo’s didn’t have a plan in place for solving such a problem!! WTF over!! I mean if you are going to drill our oceans at least have a freakin clue how to stop a deep sea oil leak!! Hang these idiots by their toes for a month and then make these oil execs, lobbyists, and politicians who vote for these drill bills mop up this mess with their bare hands! HS this is insane!!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I suspect that everyone who knows anything about deep ocean drilling, what to do when all three safeguard methods that were supposed to prevent this sort of disasters fail, and how to get a collapsed steel structure 5,000 feet below the surface out of the way so you can cap the well, is already weighing in on the problem.

@Cruiser, they did have a plan. They had three plans. What they didn’t have was a plan for what to do if all three other plans failed simultaneously.

laureth's avatar

There was a backup safety feature that had a chance of preventing accidents like this. Brazil and Norway made them mandatory on offshore rigs in their waters. We don’t – probably because BP said they’d be too expensive. Link

I wonder if they’re cheaper than cleaning up this mess.

Cruiser's avatar

@PandoraBoxx Thank you for the “facts” and making my point! What I am pressing more for is the “why” this explosion happened in the first place not some woe is me there is metal in our way excuse to why 7,000 bbls a day are polluting my beloved oyster beds!!

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

No for something that serious, lay opinions aren’t useful. Laymen are the opposite of experts.

john65pennington's avatar

Honestly, before the drilling began, before the well caught fire, an emergency plan should have been in place, just in case this happened. the main problem is 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. its difficult, if not impossible, to govern anything at that depth from the surface. ocean water is very unpredictible. this is not going to be an easy problem to solve for BP. my main concern is the animal life that will be effected by the spill. this spill is almost 3 times larger than the Exxon accident and the cleanup cost will run maybe close to a billion dollars, not to mention the eleven lives lost. i see many lawsuits in the future.

lilikoi's avatar

Thought you should know that someone is doing your idea (although it looks like they might have thought of it first):

It’s great that they have done this because their audience includes some pretty sharp people, it seems, with a wide range of expertise. I guess their audience really isn’t “laymen” in the usual sense of the word.

lilikoi's avatar


The National Science Foundation (NSF) posted a special announcement concerning
the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill using their Rapid Response Research (RAPID)
mechanism on May 27, 2010. To ensure that all resources and possible
innovations are available to help solve this terrible disaster, NSF is
encouraging all companies that have viable solutions to help solve this
problem to submit a one time only proposal to this special announcement. All
proposals must be submitted on or before September 30, 2010. If you have any
questions, please contact Dr. Don Senich ( or Mr. Kevin
Simmons ( Solicitation information is available at:

Guidance on submitting a RAPID proposal is located on NSF’s website at:

lillycoyote's avatar

The BBC also recently had an article online that had suggestions from ordinary people. They also had experts explaining why most of them wouldn’t work.

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