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Hope in the Face of Fossil Fuels Doomsday

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
11 June 2010, 8:44 PM
Let’s turn this bad action-adventure plot around
Have we been cast as extras in a fossil fuels end-of-days flick?

Is it just me? Or did this week's oil and gas news have a doomsday quality to it?

On Monday we had not one, not two, but three industrial gas disasters: a natural gas pipeline in Texas exploded, killing one worker, injuring several others and sending up a geyser of flame visible for miles around; a fireball and explosion burned seven workers drilling for natural gas in West Virginia; and authorities shut down activities at a Pennsylvania gas drilling site after a plume of toxic wastewater shot 75 feet into the air from a ruptured gas well, raining chemicals down on the site for 16 straight hours.

All of this as BP kept churning out an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico and investigations continued into the Massey mine disaster in West Virginia that killed 29 miners.

Looking around at this fossil fuels end-of-days drama unfolding around us, I can't help but feel like we've all been cast as extras in some scary action-adventure movie.

Hampshire College professor Michael Klare says we've entered the era of "extreme energy." Though fossil fuel supplies are dwindling (not to mention wreaking havoc on our climate), the folks who got rich off them seem undeterred, devising ever more risky and destructive schemes to siphon the last remaining drops of oil, pockets of gas, and thin seams of coal. They're drilling thousands of feet in deep ocean waters for oil, blasting off mountain tops for coal, shooting millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to extract natural gas.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Act III of this disaster flick. That's the part where the people get fed up, take matters into their own hands, and take down the bad guys with spunk and humor and wit.

Here at Earthjustice, we're doing our part in the courts, filing (at last count) seven lawsuits in the Gulf spill to hold polluters accountable and prevent future disasters; we're challenging backroom deals between government regulators and the oil and gas industry; we're fighting for the strongest possible regulations to protect clean air and water supplies.

And across the country, citizens are banding together, demanding change.

It happened yesterday when members of the U.S. Senate, swayed by an outpouring of public outrage, voted down Lisa Murkowski's Dirty Air Act resolution.

It happened today, on the steps of New York's City Hall where Earthjustice attorney Megan Klein stood with activists and elected officials from throughout New York rallying in support of a gas drilling moratorium in the state.

In the coming weeks, in communities throughout New York and Pennsylvania, people are coming together to watch GASLAND, an at-times irreverent but very important documentary on the consequences of the extreme form of gas extraction known as 'horizontal hydraulic fracturing' (just as scary as it sounds). On June 21, the film premieres on HBO.

At times like this, I'm inspired by the words of Paul Loeb, author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, who writes about the undercurrent of courage and faith that spur individual actions, setting into motion the seemingly random chain of events that fuel social movements.

"Even in a seemingly losing cause, one person may unknowingly inspire another, and that person yet a third, who could go on to change the world, or at least a small corner of it. Rosa Parks's husband Raymond convinced her to attend her first NAACP meeting, the initial step on a path that brought her to that fateful day on the bus in Montgomery. But who got Raymond Parks involved? And why did that person take the trouble to do so? What experiences shaped their outlook, forged their convictions?"

I'm thinking about the events of this week and wondering how many people will take a look around and, for the first time in their lives, contact their elected representatives, organize a rally, switch to renewable energy? How many thousands of people will their actions touch? What gains will we have won a year, ten years, fifty years from now?

I agree...i feel like the people running BP, and the political realm in general is spending to much time trying to figure out whose fault it is, and how much money is going to be lost or even gaine; too busy trying to save their own asses, i dont hear not one person talkin about how and when they plan on cleanin this mess up. IT GOES BACK TO KINDERGARTEN PEOPLE...u make a mess, u clean it up.
On a more ironic note btw, i do find it dreadfully ironic that for the last 7 years or so, this country has made such a BIG deal about oil, and gas prices; we've all seen the hypocracy in terms of our gov'ts methods about goin about getting it...NOW LOOK WHAT HAPPEN. u wanted oil, now u got it..RUNNING FREE IN OUR OCEAN...karma's a b**** isnt it? PLEASE CLEAN THIS MESS UP! it should not take 2 months to MAKE A DESCISION about HOW to stop this problem. You mean to tell me that will all of our technology, we can't figure out how to stop this?? its about must be. These people that work with this oil companies are more concerned about saving their own ass and keeping AND making more money, they're willing to sacrifice our planet for their own selfish needs. DONT LET THEM FOOL YOU, they dont care about this clean up. Dont believe me? look at some of the picture of the boats that are out there trying to help clean this up..idk about you, but i counted less than i said, they dont care. DONT WAIT ON THEM TO HELP. NOW IS THE TIME TO BE PROACTIVE beacuse this is serious, this is our home, and we only have one, and we can't just pick up an leave when ever we feel like it because its trashed. Try not to think of the politics behind this situation b/c politics is a distraction. Politics should not determine our next plan of action, your conscience does. And this is their planet just as well as ours. If they don't wanna clean up their mess, thats cool, but that DOES NOT mean WE are helpless. Theres only one Earth, and we only get one. Dont wait till its too late. Peace n Blessings

"people get fed up, take matters into their own hands, and take down the bad guys with spunk and humor and wit."

Forget that, let's riot. When did the public listen to the blacks in LA about Police Brutality? When they rioted. When did the French revamp their employment laws concerning citizens under 26 yrs of age? When they rioted. When did the civil rights movement gain momentum? When they started rioting. When did Iran start tweeting? When they rioted.

People. Wake up. A blog is cool and a big windmill is want them to listen to us? Riot. You want REAL green energy, debt restructuring and an end to a pitiful parade of horribles we call American Politics? Riot. Not little riots, big, F-all burn down banks Rioting.

i agree
but the banks shouldn't get burned because that'd put more CO2 in the atmosphere.. and that kind of defeats the purpose..

How far away from the Caribbean is the oil spill? What is the likelyhood that the oil spill will reach the Caribbean Islands by the end of the year? Thank You.

If you or I accidentally spilled a drum of oil that resulted in killing wildlife and contaminating the ground we would be thrown in jail AND be forced to pay for the cleanup.

The BP catastrophe (More than a simple oil spill) is paramount to Global terrorism and those responsible at all levels should be held to such crimes.

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