It’s as if the universe is trying to tell us something, isn’t it?
First, a disastrous month that saw at least 15 separate oil spills worldwide, nearly all of them in North America. That month also saw an oil barge catch fire after a collision, and the publication of a study implicating fracking as a cause of earthquakes.
Now at least 600 gallons have spilled from an Enbridge oil pumping station near Viking, Minnesota.Two fuel barges carrying a natural gas derivative have exploded and are still burning on the Alabama River. And new reports strongly suggest that tar sands from Exxon’s Pegasus Pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas have seeped into Lake Conway and are heading toward the Arkansas River.
Disasters like these bring the real costs of fossil fuels into sharp focus, because we can imagine ourselves affected by them. But the truth is, disasters like these are part of everyday life for the people and other beings living in areas where fossil fuels are extracted—or any other industrial materials, from copper for solar panels to coltan for cell phones.
If you wouldn’t want oil spilling into your back yard, if you wouldn’t want a strip mine ripping open a hole behind your house and poisoning your water, then it’s time to admit that the economic system founded on consuming these materials has got to go. We’ll never have justice or sustainability if we base one group’s “high standard of living” on the dislocation and destruction of others.