Oil. Few natural resources or even subjects in general are as contentious. On the one hand everyone in the modern world uses the stuff. If you ride a bike everywhere but buy food from a super market, you’re still consuming oil indirectly in the oil used to ship food to you. If you then buy your food from a local farmer, chances are he buys supplies shipped to him or uses a tractor that consumes, you guessed it oil. Oil is all around us, in plastic made products and the warming environment; there are massive floating islands of mostly plastic garbage and microscopic plastic beads filling our oceans.
As someone who loves travel, especially international travel, I consume more oil than most. I hope that the time I spend volunteering for conservation and the causes I support offsets this oil gluttony but maybe it doesn’t.
The heart of biodiversity, some of the world’s most beautiful rain forests are being threatened not by logging or poaching but by irresponsible oil drilling. It’s not just the wildlife and plants that stand to suffer either but indigenous people disenfranchised of their traditional lands.
Air and water are the two most important natural resources in the world, without these, we couldn’t live for more than a few minutes. Oil threatens the safety of both our air and water supplies. Nowhere is it clearer than in South America. Recently Mongabay.com published a piece about an oil leak in Cuninico, Peru. The government claimed to clean up the spill and then left, as more oil poisoned the village’s river, the only water source, killing fish in its wake. It’s not just oil either but irresponsible mining projects of all sorts. It’s the same story as the one told already in North America; natives pushed off their land for resources, virtual genocide being a natural product.
Take the case from The Guardian of an indigenous leader in Ecuador who was found dead days before a planned protest against a mining project. His body was found buried in an unmarked grave with clear signs showing he was tied up and tortured before being killed.
There’s a great book I read about this subject, mostly focusing on the Huoroni people and their interactions with the greater world, Savages By Joe Kane. It’s a story everyone in the developed world, anyone who uses oil should understand. I’m not saying that you should walk everywhere, although it wouldn’t be a bad thing if you wanted to. I’m not saying you should become a hermit, never using anything but what you make yourself. What I’m saying is we as a world community should demand more from extraction companies and national governments in places like Ecuador or Peru. That we should try to be more efficient in how we use some resources, this is why I’m a vegetarian but it’s just a drop in the bucket. We as humans need to rethink how we use and how we extract resources. That’s my cheery speech this morning; everyone have a great Tuesday!