One Love

terça-feira, março 22, 2005

Sucking Us Dry

d "Babylon system is the vampire, sucking the blood of the sufferers" Last week, the Unites States Senate voted 51-49 in favor of drilling in the Alaska Artic National Wildlife Refuge. There are enough republican congresspeople in the house for this measure to pass there as well. If it passes in the house, let the drilling being. Oil prices reached record highs last week. During a news conference before the vote, Bush expressed concern about rising energy prices and again pressed for the opening of the refuge as part of a package of energy legislation the administration has been pushing. However, contrary to what the Bush administration and its supporters would like us to think, drilling in a national park is not the answer to our energy woes. In law school, we are taught to balance the interests involved then faced with a question. Here, the balance is between corporate interests and the public interest. As is usually the case these days, the corporate interests are winning. The only people who will truly benefit from opening up this national treasure to oil drilling in the big contactors like the Haiburtons of the world, and the big oil companies. There is not enough oil in the proposed drilling area for even a single generation. Even assuming, arguendo, that such drilling would cause oil prices to go down, after about 5-10 years we would be back to where we are today. Furthermore, why do we think that low oil prices are necessarily better? Maybe oil should be expensive. Maybe it should be $5 a gallon, $10 a gallon or more. Two dollars a gallon is cheap when you consider the actual costs of fossil fuels to the world. The Kyoto protocol, which entered into force last month, but which the US still refuses to become a party to, requires manufacturers to make huge cutbacks on their carbon dioxide emissions. The cost associated with making such cutbacks is huge. In addition, rising sea levels and melting permafrost and ice-caps are threatening the survival of entire nations. The island nation of Tuvalu has an evacuation plan that will take effect in the next 50 years. How do you measure the cost of losing your home, your nation? Native American Tribes in Canada have been forced out of their tribal lands because of the melting permafrost that destabilizes the soil and alters their way of life. Because of the warmer climate in northern regions animals that Tribes depended on for food are migrating and mating at different times than they did even 10 years ago. How do you quantify the loss of a way of life? Economists call such displaced externalities. What we are doing is externalizing the actual costs associated with the burning of fossil fuels onto minorities and the environment. The average American, numbed as she is by the sickly-sweet taste to carbonated sugar water, fat-injected chicken sandwiches, and the degenerative force of the cathode-ray tube, has no conception of what is really going on. They call us "conspiracy theorists" or "liberals" but they don't even sit down to analyze what those labels mean or why they are there. No one wants to ask questions anymore, or doubt the system. Well, I do. If this country took the resources that will be spent drilling for 10 years worth of oil and invested it into wind farms and solar power, we would no longer be a renegade state in non-compliance with international law. And if we took the longer view, not just the "I don't wanna pay $4 for gas" view, than we would realize that charging more for a substance that is destroying this planet as we know it may not be such a crazy idea. If we charged more for gas than people would be internalizing the costs. With the extra money, gas companies could invest in alternative energy and move away from traditional fuel sources. If gas cost more, more people would ride bikes for short trips and take public transportation for longer trips more often. Amtrak might actually get funded properly and cities might actually decide to build better commuter rail systems and subways. I might never have the chance to visit the Alaska National Artic Wildlife refuge. But I like to know that it is there. I like to know that there are caribou and bears that live freely and wild. They live in harmony with their little corner of the world and they have no idea how much we have fucked up the rest of it. I take the long view because I want to have children and I want them to have children. I am only protecting the world for future generations. This world does not belong to me. It is not mine to use and abuse and then throw away. It is not disposable. It is the only one we have. I wonder how many for those 51 senators who voted for the drilling drive SUVs and take $$ from the big oil companies and contractors. What I do know is that none of them know what it is like to live in harmony with nature, to live off of the land and then to have that all taken away. Articles on the Senate Vote: The Alaska Drilling Measure is part of a budget resolution. The law that protects the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has not been changed. To find out about the budget process, go to: Take Action: World Wildlife Fund: Alaska Wilderness League: Sierra Club: National Resources Defense Council :


Millenium Ecosystem Assessment today published a comprehensive study of the impact of human development on the Earth. To say the results are sobering would be a gross understatement. The study concludes that the way humans harvest many of their natural resources - not only fossil fuels, but also food stocks and energy generation systems - has permanently altered and degraded countless global ecosystems.

Consider the impact of dam-building. In the United States in the last century, we saw the detrimental side effects of extensive damming on the Colorado river. Aside from the loss of public land in Glen Canyon through flooding, the river no longer reaches its terminus in northern Mexico. Of course, this reflects the unfortunate American attitude that it's all well and good for other people in other countries to suffer so long as we can blare white noise out of our satellite TVs 24/7. This ecological tragedy, however, pales in comparison to the suffering currently being inflicted on nearly 2 million Chinese people by their own government due to its callous and short-sighted Three Gorges Dam project. Humans simply refuse to learn the lessons their planet is trying so desperately to teach them.

In fact, we can't even agree on proper terminology. Debate as to whether Tuvalu is being choked by "sea-level rise" or "climate change" allow the global community to avoid taking any kind of responsibility for the lives of 11,000 Tuvalans. And yet no one can deny the fact that their homeland is dying.

Humans, at least the rich ones, cling to the notion that it's better to render a country barren and empty the oceans than think of new, more sustainable means of development and progress that - gasp - might threaten existing economic hierarchies. So eat up your fish sticks, America, and enjoy a barefoot stomp across your perfectly green lawn. Sure is great to be a global superpower, huh?
commented by Blogger tsawchuk, 12:54 PM  

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