Friday, January 24, 2014
Crucible Of The Tarsands
Gasoline; sunlight trapped for millions of years inside fossilized plants, this most efficient of fuels is the blood of industrial society. But what is the price of this bounty, how far can we push the ecosystem in order to extract the last few drops of oil?
In Canada, there is a place where the land becomes like a great wound, as far as the eye can see, a broken landscape of dirt mounds and chemical pools rends the forest, always there are machines digging, digging the sand that contains a few precious drops of oil. The process to extract oil from the tarsands is extreme, requiring huge amounts of toxic chemicals, a high risk for a low pay off.
The oil is then shipped through the United States into Texas, creating great risk of oil spills across the pipelines path. The Pipeline goes through many indigenous territories and poor communities that have no way to challenge the pollution, they are at the mercy of big corporations and government bureaucracies who all stand to profit from the pipeline and tarsands project.
Canada and the United States are making a dangerous choice, they are setting an agenda for the future that ignores warnings from scientists about how these projects and the continued use of fossil fuel in general will have massive negative impact on the climate and ecosystem. They are ignoring the socio economic injustice inherently caused by such projects, and the violations of indigenous sovereignty that have resulted from the pipeline and tarsands chemical pollution.
There are many obvious alternatives to gasoline such as solar, geothermal and wind. Electric cars are being produced that charge quickly from solar power stations and are poised to begin replacing gasoline cars in the next few years. There are also options available for engineering with things like hemp plastic that can replace many traditional metal or plastic parts, reducing our use of toxic manufacturing processes. We have many options for the future, but we must choose to use them in order to address the social, environmental and political problems that fossil fuel technology creates.
Why does modern society risk polluting so much land in order to feed a technological paradigm that is obviously rooted in the 19th century? Because a group of individuals is profiting off the perpetuation of this paradigm, they profit from the incredible expansion of car ownership, they profit from logging and mining. They profit from the tarsands and from the suppression of technology like solar panels and electric cars. But another group of individuals is appearing, they are finding ways to make profits from technology that is part of the solution to gasoline.
As things like solar panels, electric cars, and other sustainable technologies become cheaper, the market opens up and allows new paradigms of technology to flourish. It is up to the people to buy the technology, help develop the technology, and to spread the word about why ending fossil fuel use is vital for the future of earth.
It is a lasting and vital truth that "power concedes nothing without a demand", these words were first spoken by Frederick Douglass, the prominent abolitionist activist. The gasoline industrial complex is intent upon exercising every available means to continue the use of fossil fuel, so it comes to the reality that change must be demanded by the people, otherwise, those with power will never give in and destructive projects like the tarsands will go on forever.