Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three Lessons We Still Haven't Learned 20 Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

by J.S. McDougall
It's hard to argue that there's a more lasting and clear example of the destructive force that unchecked corporate greed has on our environment and communities than the Exxon Valdez oil spill that devastated Alaska's Prince William Sound 20 years ago today. Then, like now, we are hopelessly addicted to carbon-based fuels. Oil and coal have exposed our Achilles heel to the Fates, and we tempt them every day that we do not aggressively transition to low-energy lives and sustainable fuel sources. We don't need a power-shift in this civilization as much as we need a power-down.
Take a 10 minute break today, on the anniversary of one of the most tragic--and still unresolved--environmental disasters of our modern energy age, from Twittering, emailing, blogging, IM'ing, Facebooking, and other forms of frantic networking (except in case of emergency) to reflect on the three lessons that we may already intellectually know as individuals, but as a civilization we have yet to learn -- and consider applying them to more recent, larger environmental disasters.
1. Big Energy Means Big Energy Corporations. The video below was shot just four days after the Exxon Valdez dumped between 11 and 38 million gallons of crude oil into the formerly pristine waters of Prince William Sound. The high school gym where this was filmed is packed with the fishermen and women who are just beginning to realize that their lives and livelihoods have been destroyed. Listen to the Exxon representative explain that this oil spill is "a bit of good luck" for the community.
Corporations with allegiance only to profits will never have allegiance to communities. To rid the world of energy corporations that terrorize our communities and natural world, we must stop giving them business by decentralizing our power supply, forming community power co-ops, and taking back control of our fuel sources.

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