Tag Archives: oil spills

I’m not inviting you to my Planet!

If mankind disappeared today

What would all the animals say?

Birds, koalas and even bees,

Would sing with joy – they’d now have trees!

Tigers, elephants, all kinds of bear,

Could now roam free- without a care.

Their rivers would run unpolluted

Man and Earth are so unsuited! 

If you inherited a perfectly good planet with lovely oceans and jungles and fascinating animals, birds and fish, would you invite man onto it?

If you did you’d be crazy.

Picture the movie ‘Avatar’ and you’d see what I mean. Of course that’s only a movie, but why does it ring so true?

That’s because deep in our hearts we know that man can’t be trusted. Of course we’re all complicit, but somehow individually we all feel powerless.

As governments do extraordinary things that are not in their own country’s interests and as multi national corporations trash the planet with their slovenly work practices, we can only sit back and ‘cop it sweet’ as they say in Australia.

Only a couple of weeks ago we heard that Australia, which has ample home grown apples and pears, is opening the floodgates to Chinese grown apples and pears and all their attendant diseases. Yippee.

On a global scale we watch as oil spews into the oceans right across the globe.

The BP disaster in Mississippi is just one of many, many disasters. Oil spills are an every day part of life in the Niger Delta in Nigeria where oil pipelines have destroyed the livelihoods of  Nigerian farmers by poisoning the air, soil and water. Here oil pours out of oil wells continually, rendering swamps lifeless. Just recently a burst pipe belonging to Shell spewed out oil for two months, killing all the life in the local mangroves. It was only stopped a couple of weeks ago. The Gio Creek is still black from an oil spill in April.

Everywhere fish are dead and prawns and crab, once abundant, are now non existent.

I dread the day when there is either an explosion or oil leak in the British oil wells in the waters off the Falkland Islands or a ship crashes in Antarctic waters and drops its oil into the ocean. One day I fear we’ll be seeing photos on the front page of our papers of Emperor penguins, seals and whales coated in oil.

On land the mass extinction of plant and animal species proceeds at up to 1000 times the natural rate. As every country chops down their jungles, forests and spare trees as fast as they can, thus effectively destroying the habitats of every wild animal on earth, I don’t think many of us have much hope that anything except cats, dogs, caged budgerigars and farm animals will be alive by the end of the century.

Indonesia is now preparing to clear 1.6 million hectares of land in the Merauke district of south-east Papua for development, but this could expand to 2.5million hectares.

 The rainforests, which include swamp forests that are ecologically fragile, contain stores of peat that absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The land has been earmarked for agricultural projects including palm oil plantations, soy bean plantations, sugar cane, corn and rice farms. Already, throughout South-East Asia, palm oil plantations have been responsible for destroying millions of hectares of jungle. Throughout the world, soy bean plantations have been responsible for the destruction of huge tracts of the Amazon jungle and Argentinian forests. Environmentalists claim that up to 2 million hectares of jungle in Merauke are under threat.

There is no guarantee that the project will be successful even if the jungles are razed. A similar Indonesian project – the Kalimantan mega rice project that caused the devastation of peatland forests in Kalimantan – did not produce a single bushel of rice.

As the earth watches the small amount of its remaining jungles and forests being slashed and burnt to the ground, one wonders what price will be paid in years to come.

In the Zamfara state of Nigeria, in a village close to a gold mine, numerous children have recently died from lead poisoning. The ore that the gold is found in has a very high percentage of lead which has contaminated the soil in the village, and inside the households.

Across the globe mines have destroyed the landscape in all countries.

Our own Blue Mountains in New South Wales have collapsed in different spots due to coal mining beneath them.

New Guineans have long rued the day that gold miners entered their territory, poisoning their waterways and destroying their land.

One of my acupuncture patients, a Philippino, sadly recalled the beautiful natural scenery and waterfalls of his childhood which have now been destoyed by mining. For that matter, I believe that nearly 95% of original jungle has been chopped down in the Philippines since the end of World War Two.

I would like to think that earth’s glass is half full rather than half empty (make that three quarters empty). Unfortunately it does seem that while we’re all cruising along in a state of materialistic bliss, our planet is being trashed.

Let’s put it this way – I won’t be inviting mankind to MY planet!

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Something Oily is Going on Here!

 

Sea life is now only safe in Sea World

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!

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