Ecological Disaster: Irony and Hope

Oil Spill

Yes, the Deepwater Horizon spill is horrible. Let’s not lose sight of that. But there are a lot of people from other places around the world that look at our reaction to the recent disaster with a mix of irony and hope.

The irony comes from the fact that stuff like this disaster happens every day in places like the Niger Delta or the Ecuadorian Amazon. Outside of the USA, oil companies are infamous for gleefully avoiding any sort of pollution controls in order to maximize their profits. They’re also famous for helping to topple local democratically-elected governments and installing militaristic dictatorships. Chevron helped get the MPLA into power in Angola, for example, largely because of the oil exploitation deal it struck with them… the fact that the MPLA had to invade and conquer Cabinda to get that oil was a side issue. And if you’ve never heard of Cabinda, thank Chevron for wiping that little country off the map less than four months after it declared independence from Portugal. So, yes, people from outside the USA look at the Gulf of Mexico disaster with no small sense of, “Now you know what it’s like.”

That’s where the hope comes in. Ecology nuts aren’t the only people that want to reduce US demand on foreign oil. The people that live in nations that supply that oil want to see the US reduce its dependence on their oil. They’re sick and tired of the way the US government works with the big oil companies to subvert and corrupt their governments, ruin their environments, and subject them to horrible conditions. So if the US stops needing so much oil, it’ll stop enslaving the people of oil-producing countries, so the conventional wisdom goes.

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