The PBS NewsHour recently issued a challenge: post your ideas for stopping and/or cleaning up the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill on their YouTube site. They received 7,000 entries, with seriously good ideas woven through jokes about calling Macgyver and using duct tape. A few of the best are collected on the News Hours site: clever improvisational thinking by public citizens, along with homemade visuals to illustrate various strategies. Most of them didn’t pass muster by ‘expert’, Greg McCormack, director of the Petroleum Extension Service at the University of Texas, who explained why they wouldn’t work… all EXCEPT ONE…

Two heavily drawling guys from C.S. Roberts Contracting – one dressed in overalls – did a video-demo using kitchen utensils and stainless steel bowls to show that ordinary hay could be used to soak up the oil because oil readily sticks to hay. They figured out all sorts of aspects to the problem, from what kinds of hay to use and how to get it out to see, and what to do with the oil-soaked hay. You can hear their excitement at figuring out the problem: “This is about as green and as simple as it gets…”

We LOVE and are heartened by the folks that put their creativity and imagination and knowledge to this serious problem, and spent time figuring it out and struggling with it, then pulled together a video, and opened themselves and their idea up to criticism…

Thinking outside the box can be a really generous thing to do…

Thanks David Saltman!

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8 replies on “pbs’ oil spill challenge: what’s your solution?

  1. So, what is BP waiting for? Clearly, they need to hear the message of The Improvised Life! Sally, perhaps they could be sent a copy of your manifesto as it most certainly applies to this problem solving challenge and to the spirit inherent in our overall-wearing friend!

  2. ..I missed the call to action, but I think this might work:

    Just prior to their tar and feathering (using tar balls from Key West), take the Brooks Brothers suits that the BP execs were wearing and use THEM to soak up the oil….

  3. This should sent to everyone and train loads of hay should making their to Louisiana and airplanes should be dropping hay from above.
    I got teary too.

  4. why cant BP have a tanker above the broken pipe and having the oil sucked into a vacumm from the end of the pressure pipe,just to contain the flow entering the ocean, and when that tanker is full have a second one ready.

  5. There was a man on nightline that said they have tankers with vacumns that were used during a simular catastrophe off a deep ocean drilling platform in the middle east countrys.They vacumn the oil plume up and filled the tankers they then took it to a port where they seperated the sea water from the oil.Why didn’t they contact these oil people and see if this is possiple or just wishfull thinking.either way it won’t damage the enviorment as they have been doing all the while.It couldn’t due any worse let alone damage anything as they are now doing.Why not have these genius try and see if this is plausible.!!!!!!!

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