The current BP oil spill in the Mississippi Delta made me think of a Macrobiotic philosophy. It is something like this – a big front hides an even bigger back. The front is the good side that we all see and the back is the bad side that is hidden by the big front.
The oil industry is a perfect example of this philosophy. We need petrol for our cars. Billions of cars taking people quickly to their destinations would have to be the good side. Trucks, planes, ships and machinery also run on the fuel.
However, there is definitely a big back to this one.
A man named Stan Meyer invented a dune buggy circa 1995. This vehicle ran on water. It ran 100 miles to the gallon. Such was the threat of such a vehicle to the oil industry that he was apparently offered a billion dollars by an Arab to shelve the idea. He refused to accept.
He died of food poisoning in mysterious circumstances in 1998 and immediately the buggy and the plans were stolen. Nothing has been done on this concept since that time. Read about Stan here http://waterpoweredcar.com/stanmeyer.html
Oil pipes frequently run through the lands of poor farmers, poisoning the soil. Nigeria is such a country.
Here is a piece I have taken directly from the website http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/cases_03-04/Ogoni/Ogoni_case_study.htm
The Nigerian delta has some of the best agricultural land in Africa, as well as vast oil resources.� The area is densely populated by many different tribal groups, including the Ogoni people who have lived there for over 500 years.� Several oil companies, including Shell, set up operations in the 1950s and since then, the land, water, and air have been polluted to such a great extent that the Ogoni people�s livelihood is threatened.
The effect of pollution on the Nigerian delta has been great.� As a result of oil spills and industrial waste dumped into the Niger River Delta, fishing as a means of supplying food for the tribe is no longer an option because very few fish remain in the river.� The groundwater is contaminated and is not safe for drinking, and the rainwater cannot be collected for drinking because it falls as acid rain. Dr. Owens Wiwa, a medical doctor and human rights activist from the area says, �We cannot drink the water from the streams, you can’t drink rainwater and there is no piped water. Our right to drinking water has been taken away by the company, our right to farming has been taken away by the company, and our right to clean air has also been taken away by the company� (1). Developed countries such as the United Stated require mud from drilling to be enclosed in a containment well or land fill to prevent seepage. However, the Nigerian government permits oil operations to dispose of the drilling waste directly into the river (2).
The air has also been severely polluted. The natural gas that is a byproduct of drilling is flared off horizontally from five flaring stations, some of which are near homes and villages. Flaring is a process in which the gas is collected in batches and then combusted, creating a loud explosion. More dangerous in the long run is the massive amounts of carbon dioxide created by flaring off gas that could be sold or even donated to the local people for a cooking fuel.� Flaring, combined with the methane and soot produced by the two refineries, petrochemical complex, and fertilizer complex that are in Ogoniland produce low air quality linked to cancer, asthma, and other lung diseases.� The flaring has also been associated with reduced crop yield and plant growth on nearby farms (2).
The most immediate threat to Ogoni people is oils spills, which have damaged their land dramatically.� At least one hundred pumping stations and pipelines crisscross Ogoniland (1).� The pipelines run over farm land and through villages; leaks and spills are a common occurrence. From 1970 to 1982, 1,581 oil spill incidences were recorded in the Niger Delta, over 1.5 million gallons of which were a result of Shell’s 27 incidents.� While Shell runs oil operations in over one hundred different countries, 40% of the company’s spills were in Nigeria (3).� What little Shell has done to clean up these spills has been delayed and inadequate.
In mid 2006 a huge oil spill along Lebanon’s Mediterranean shore was caused by Israeli planes hitting a Lebanese power plant, dumping 15,000 tons of oil into the Eastern Mediterranean. The entire coastline of Lebanon, which is an important environmental site, was coated with oil, killing blue fin tuna and green turtles, among other sea life. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/07/060731-lebanon-oil.html
Then there was what was formerly considered to be the most devastating man-made environmental disaster in history – the Exxon Valdez oil spill. This occurred in Prince William Sound in Alaska on March 24, 1989, when the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker heading for Long Beach, California, spilled 10.8 million US gallons (40.9 million litres, or 250,000 barrels) of crude oil when it hit a reef. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, this spill is still affecting local communities twenty years on http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/exxon-valdez-oil-disaster-still-affects-communities-wildlife-20100504-u53t.html . Oil still clogs beaches and there have been social effects in the local communities ranging from domestic violence to alcoholism.
And now we have the terrible BP environmental disaster in Mississippi. Only time will tell how that has damaged the fragile eco system in Mississippi. However, having millions of gallons of oil pouring into the water can hardly be healthy for the local sea life. Some are saying that this oil spill is worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster.
There are more factors at stake besides the decimation of local wildlife and sea life. Fishing communities are destroyed and locals lose their livelihoods. Tourism is also affected and its financial benefits lost.
To read more about the numerous oil spills in the US alone that are not generally reported, read http://naturescrusaders.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/hundreds-of-us-oil-spills-in-2010-alone-enough-oil-gods-must-fall/
Cynics (and there are an awful lot of them) believe that the wars in the Middle East, starting with Iraq, had more to do with preserving America’s oil supply than any other consideration.
The reason for Britain’s interest in the tiny Falkland Islands has now become apparent as England has begun drilling for oil there.
I wonder how it sits on leaders’ consciences that young men and women had to give their lives for such a crass commercial consideration? I’m not sure how saving a country’s oil supply could be considered to be a noble ideal – especially in the light of no one wanting to explore the application of an invention that made oil redundant (Stan Meyer’s dune buggy).
These days we do have vehicles which run on electricity but they are too expensive for the average consumer. And of course they have to be recharged regularly which does diminish their ability to be used for long trips. Toyota manufactures the hybrid Prius which has had problems, but still runs on petrol as well as electricity.
No one seems prepared to move away from petrol, there is way too much politics and money involved.
Now I think about it, water probably isn’t the answer either. Although it is a cleaner fuel, it hardly ever rains in Sydney these days so I don’t know where the water would come from if that became our new fuel. The price of water would go through the roof. There is also a nasty big back to the water industry – water rights issues in third world countries; farmers’ dams being forcibly taken over by the government and dams flooding pristine wildlife areas etc.
Maybe Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, has the right idea. Everyone thinks she is severely misguided as she has ordered all the city roads to be dug up and made into bicycle tracks. She seems to be under the misapprehension that everyone is going to want to cycle to work if she does this. However, although it would certainly be wonderful for the environment, I don’t see this happening. The back side of that is that there is going to be so much road rage coming up that it won’t be safe to drive into the city!