What does this leak tell us about putting pipelines under the ocean, sometimes in remote locations? What should we expect or be aware of?
Reddy: At the end of the day, a lot of how we respond to a leak or a spill is driven by the infrastructure and logistics. So the more extreme a place, the more difficult it is to get there, the more difficult it is to fight any problems. Our capacity to respond to crises, especially in the ocean, depends on whether or not we can bring the [metaphorical] fire department there in a fast, safe manner.
Finding evidence for an unfortunate event like this demands swift, nimble action. Now, the upside is that methane is a gas and there atmospheric monitoring stations. So the key point is whether or not there are any detectable impacts. And then the other thing–and this is always a big problem– is whether or not there was a baseline that exists to say, are things worse now than before? That’s a great argument for basic science: To tell you how bad is it now, we need to know what it was like the day before. And of course, the baseline continues to change.