Of Oil and Men

by Loic Welch

Screen shot 2022-04-11 at 2.13.51 PM.pngImage source: Flickr

An era of social consciousness and active revolution is upon us. Two months into 2011 and already three countries have turned over decades old tyrannies; furthermore, storms are brewing in many more of the Middle-Eastern countries. With the turning governments, the oil economy shakes to its very core; many of the supplying sources are located around if not directly in the effected areas. The turmoil creates great strains in the trade of the black gold. The tensions result in soaring prices of over $100 a barrel, only comparable to the peak oil prices of 2008. Now would be an ideal moment in history to make the progressive switch to more sustainable or even renewable energy sources.


The powerful oil and gas corporations oppose the people's right to an environmentally sound planet. Corporations' main concerns are immediate gain, not the legacy their greed will leave behind. Finding sought for natural resources, namely oil and/or natural gas, is christened the Resources' Curse. Without proper restriction on exploitation, countries fall into utter chaos and corruption. Governments that exploit the resources gain access to gigantic wealth and an almost limitless supply of cash flow, which allows for a raw approach in politics. Raw refers to a more shameless attitude where the government no longer ensures what is best for its people, rather the governing body implements what is best for the companies paying royalties on resources exploited. In turn, the people no longer feel the government represents them in their best interests, yet they cannot dismantle their leaders for lack of an alternative choice (others parties do not have the money to oppose this sort of government). A despotic administration creates lower turnouts at elections; in accordance, the government no longer needs to justify itself to its population.

The cycle is quite vicious and devastates a country's economy and politics. Furthermore, on top of killing democracy, the exploitation of oil and gas can have tremendous impact on the environment. The tar sands in the Northern-Provinces of Canada are putting to shame any man-made natural-disasters. The Athabasca River has reached the critical mass of arsenic and other toxins; they have contaminated all species of fish and are affecting animals that drink from the area. Humans are also affected by the contaminants. In the town of Fort Chipewyan, rare forms of cancer are reported at unnerving frequencies; the cancer rates are way over average to be disregarded as coincidental. There is an undeniable correlation between the cancers and the arrival, slightly upstream from Fort Chip, of the biggest industrial oil project in the world.


All humanitarian reasons set aside, continuing the search for oil and gas is a fool's errand doomed for failure in the long run. The resource has peaked; new wells are no longer being discovered in sufficient amounts to quench the ever-growing demand in oil. Furthermore, the current wells being exploited are saturated and will eventually run out; the most optimist of scientists give it 50 more years, but realistically by the year 2020 oil will be in its terminal decline and will eventually be so expensive to exploit that it will no longer be viable. This brings us back to the opening comment on now being the right time to progressively switch our energy sources. Countries have been developing alternative resources for quite some time; the most prominent one being nuclear, but it has many drawbacks namely the waste that still is impossible to dispose of. The way of the future is in renewable-energy sources; the most promising are solar (harnesses radiant light and heat from the sun), geothermal (uses heat generated from the earth's fusion core), wind power (converts kinetic energy from the wind in mechanical energy in the wind turbine) and many more.


Screen shot 2022-04-11 at 1.58.15 PM.pngAlthough a lot of progress has been made in the development of these resources, implementing them is a major challenge for our current capitalist driven world. Oil lobbyist push harder than ever to block progress in those sectors; the biggest oil and gas corporation, Exxon Mobil, is guilty of funding anti-global warming research. The corporations' total disregard for the future proves that in this time of change these companies will probably have to be taken apart before the rest of the world can move forward. It will probably take a man-made natural disaster of epic proportion and destruction to finally shake up the global consciousness.

Image source: Flickr


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