Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Little Perspective

With the Gulf oil spill, attention is being brought to the other indiscretions of oil companies. Spills happen routinely in other countries that don't have even our level of legal protection for the environment. Guess where all these countries are? In the "developing" world. Where our media fails to pay attention.
Kazakhstan, for one, had no comprehensive environmental laws until 2007, and Nigeria has suffered spills equivalent to that of the Exxon Valdez every year since 1969. (As of last year, Nigeria had 2,000 active spills.) Since the Santa Barbara spill of 1969, and the more than 40 Earth Days that have followed, Americans have increased by two-thirds the amount of petroleum we consume in our cars, while nearly quadrupling the quantity we import. Effectively, we’ve been importing oil and exporting spills to villages and waterways all over the world.
Ah yes, Nigeria. I remember seeing a film about oil in Nigeria in one of my classes. Beyond the violence and huge rich-poor disparities it causes, it leaves behind a lot of environmental problems. Oil pipelines are constantly leaky, and the people who live near them in the Niger Delta deal with a lack of clean water all the time (along with a preponderance of dead fish).

In Nigeria, the oil has been leaking for so long that it has spread everywhere. Doesn't "oil everywhere" sound like a bit of a fire hazard to you? Well, it is. How do you deal with fires springing up around your house all the time if you don't even have non-oily water to put it out with? I don't know, but to the villagers there, a leaky pipe might even be a good thing despite the fire, because it gives them a chance to tap some oil for themselves and even out the inequality a little bit.

And back to the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf, I've found you a little video (you'll have to click through to the actual post if you're using a feed reader):

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