comments_image Comments

5 Mining Projects That Could Devastate the Entire Planet

Burning coal and oil for more than 100 years has resulted in human-made climate change. We cannot allow another 100 years of the same.

I’ll tell you about five Godzilla-scale fossil-digging projects in North America that if approved will set us on a course to repeat our past with grave implications for the future of our planet. You may have already heard about some of these projects individually, but the urgency to stop them collectively is more than ever before.

I’m not talking about fossil-digging projects that tell us something about our ecological past or our cultural past. I’m talking about digging for coal and oil. I remember reading somewhere that “the largest profits are made by making and selling products that go up in the air.” Throughout the twentieth century digging for coal and oil, and then burning it to send carbon into the air was enough to ensure astronomical profits for a handful of fossil-fuel corporations.

But I also remember the saying, “What goes up must come down.” For a hundred years, burning all that coal and oil gave us -- the humans -- great comforts, but the carbon we sent up in the air also resulted in the tremendous pain of climate change -- the rapid melting of sea ice and icebergs that is destroying Arctic marine ecology, the ocean acidification and coral deaths that are causing havoc to marine life in the tropical and temperate seas, droughts and beetle infestations that have killed hundreds of millions of trees around the world, intense forest fires and floods -- remember Russia and Pakistan this summer? The list goes on and on ... you know the story. Our planet is also experiencing the greatest rate of biodiversity loss ever and climate change will continue to worsen the ongoing tragedy of species extinction.

Recently, ecophilosopher and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva began her acceptance speech at the Sydney Opera House for the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize with these words: “When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits -- limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration.”

In terms of calendar years, we stepped into the twenty-first century about ten years ago, but in all other ways we have continued to live the life of the twentieth century, with our ongoing love affair with coal and oil. If you think we are entering the twenty-first century with a wonderful clean energy future that will be healthy for all life on earth, think again! If there is one thing the U.S. midterm election has guaranteed, it is this: Oil and coal lobbies and their climate denier supporters in Congress are ready to force us farther into the new century with another one hundred years of fossil-digging in North America. Right now they’re probably eating gourmet steak flown in from Argentina to gather strength and drinking fine Italian wine to gather passion to unleash an unprecedented fossil-digging campaign after the 112th Congress is sworn in come January.

The process has already begun. Last week Shell Oil launched a massive ad campaign to pressure the Obama administration into allowing them to begin drilling in the Beaufort Sea of Arctic Alaska during 2011. The New York Times reported, “The company (Shell) is placing ads for the rest of the month in national newspapers, liberal and conservative political magazines and media focused on Congress.” In late May, as the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was unfolding in front of our eyes (a long-forgotten event for our amnesiac culture), I wrote a story titled “BPing the Arctic?” that pointed to the dangers if President Obama allows Shell to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of the Arctic Ocean. I also wrote about Shell’s “Let’s Go” ad campaign in September. If you read these pieces and understand what’s now unfolding, you’ll know Shell isn’t kidding around: They’re spending a lot of money that will go far toward their plan to drill in the icy Arctic Ocean. President Obama ought not to cave under the pressure of Shell’s ad campaign and must not issue the permit for 2011 Beaufort Sea drilling, and also Chukchi Sea drilling if they later ask for it.