Silent People, Silent Spring

By | January 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm | No comments

Photo taken in Papua New Guinea by eGuideTravel via flickr

Americans are learning that their rights are deeply connected to the Rights of Nature. For quite a while, we had the luxury (stupidity) of trashing foreign lands for profit and our own energy needs. But now that we are increasing domestic extraction of resources – right from under our own feet – we are witnessing firsthand the consequences of our addiction to fossil fuels. We do not like what we see or smell or taste or drink.

We are baring witness to a land with no rights, when animal and plant life have less value than dollar bills. There is no more clean water to drink and the fields are fowled.

Laws that do not protect the land do not protect the people – as in People, not corporations considered to be “people”. The real People are worried. The bulldozers, trucks, pipelines, and containment pools are in their front yards, now. They look to the law – precious state and federal legislation meant to protect their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness – and see washed hands and suited shoulders shrugging. Why? Because corporations are “people”, too.

Like political dissidents that take to the streets when they are stripped of their political voice, every day average American folk find their voice in the streets after they are robbed of their land and water by dirty energy giants exercising “eminent domain” – a policy supported by their government.

In the case of both the dissident and the land-owner, the government has failed its People. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are just as dispensable as the land that they sell to the highest bidder.

As the government continues to protect the rights of corporations, our right to vote is being attacked. That is our main weapon to defend our land and our basic rights. Our leaders are trying to deny our position as rightful political agents and is bestowing non-People with increasing power to exploit citizens and their land.

In the U.S., for the first time, whites are provided with the experience of powerlessness and exploitation that Natives knew when Spain, France, and England arrived on these shores. This new and strange experience inspires Americans to reach out to science for protection and salvation. But in a nation whose conservative leaders actively campaign to discredit scientists, farmers and families are left to search for the answers to their mysterious health problems and flammable water on their own. So, they embrace grassroots efforts to build coalitions and educate the public about their plight. They band together to fight for the future of our children and our nation.

Unfortunately, in the spirit of Free Trade, America is Hell-bent on exporting this misery and degradation across the world. The global push to develop natural gas has immense international consequences for those who live off the land. That is to say, it has immense consequence for every human being.

Our government’s obscure Export-Import Bank supports American natural gas companies’ overseas drilling. Specifically, South African farmers fear for what little water is available to them for sheep raising on their arid lands. Their problem is immediate and two-fold. They cannot risk the contamination of their limited water sources, and they cannot survive if these foreign companies ruin millions of gallons by mixing with their “proprietary” toxic smoothie and using it as fracking fluid. These farmers do not have the luxury of worrying about the earthquakes that will be caused by storing leftover fluid thousands of feet underground. Perhaps the kind folks living in the Buckeye State give them advice on how to prepare your house for a quake.

Now, Papua New Guinea must tangle with an entirely different set of consequences that follow the development of their natural gas deposits. ExxonMobil is determined to develop the economy of this incredibly isolated and poor nation, which is dominated by tribes and numerous cultures and languages. There is no centralized government to speak of. Yet, the global oil giant – notorious for polluting waterways and spoiling land – proposes irrevocably altering this People’s way of life. It already inspired the formation of a police force, something relatively unknown there. No mistake about it, the political structures being created are not to protect the rights of those who live on the land; the structure is being created to protect Exxon’s pillaging of the People’s natural resources. And so, ExxonMobil will single-handedly shape Papua New Guinea’s economy, energy, government, and land. In doing so, it will pour millions of dollars into an unstable land.

Greed and environmental ignorance know no borders. And the United States makes sure of that. When companies discover large quantities of resources that could turn them a profit, they need help keeping it out of the hands of those to whom it rightfully belongs.

Our government supports the fossil fuel industry at any cost – to its own citizens and people across the globe. But how can a nation that refuses to protect its own land base and citizens from toxic pollution and contaminated water dare to consider itself a global authority on energy policy or a proper exporter of drilling technology? And at what should an international corporation dare to consider itself qualified to restructure an entire nation?

When the People are fending off bulldozers and lighting their water on fire. When the People are silenced and their Land is dying.

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