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  Europe
Shame on You!
Oil Companies Continue to Rape Planet for Profit
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
Protesters challenge British interests in Canadian oil field.

Most people have an opinion on climate change and the Greenhouse effect. There are those who say it’s a real threat to our existence, those who cry “nonsense”, and those – like myself – who have an open mind and would like a bit more evidence. Whatever anyone’s opinion, however, putting aside climate change and global warming, the human race does not have the right to strip this planet of its resources the way it does, showing complete disregard for its effect on the environment and the myriad other creatures who share the world with us. Worse still, it shouldn’t be doing it for profit.

Oil companies make billions out of stripping this planet like a vulture strips a carcass. The sociopaths that own and run these companies make more money than they could ever possibly spend. So, how much is enough for them? How much damage must they wreak before a tiny spark of conscience ignites in them and they decide to call it a day? How much must these megalomaniacs own and control? Without someone making a stand against them, I fear they will only stop when they’re standing on a hilltop, overlooking a dead, barren planet, their money – now worthless – fluttering away on a breeze. Even then, they’ll probably deny all responsibility.

So, thank the Lord for those who make a stand against these companies, those who risk their life and liberty to raise their hands and cry, “Enough!” One such group is the Camp for Climate Action, who describe themselves as, “…a fast-growing, grassroots movement of diverse people taking action on climate change, the biggest threat our world has known.”

This group, and others like them, display the courage many of us lack when they go out in all weathers to protest against the latest round of destruction for profit. They show fortitude when they are scorned by those in power, described as malcontents, persecuted and even arrested for no reason, as during the protests at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, in Nottinghamshire, England, last year. 21 people were arrested during the protest simply for trying to make their voices heard. Worse still, 10 people were arrested before the protests even took place. The grounds for their arrest were “conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass”. So, they were arrested just in case they committed a crime. What a sad day for human rights that was.

I don’t blame the police; they have their orders and they have to follow them. However, those arrests do highlight the hypocrisy in the criminal justice system. If you look out your window tonight and see a group of teenagers standing outside, paying what you might think is undue attention to your car, and you call the police, they will say, “Have they actually done anything yet?”

“No,” you reply. “But I’m worried that they might.”

“Ah, well we can’t do anything until they actually do something.”

Hmm. So, they can’t be arrested just in case they do something. They can’t be arrested for conspiracy to commit criminal damage, conspiracy to commit theft, or even conspiracy to murder just in case you go out to confront them and they kick you to death. So, you can’t actually be arrested unless you do something. In that case, I know of 10 people who are due an apology and some compensation.

The Camp for Climate Action’s latest campaign, which started yesterday (aptly called Fossil Fools’ Day by them), is a two-week long action entitled “Fortnight of Shame”. It is a campaign against the exploitation of Tar Sands, particularly in Alberta, Canada, where more than a dozen oil companies have descended like locusts to strip this area for profit.

Tar Sands, also known as Oil Sands, are a naturally-occurring mixture of sand or clay, water, and a particularly viscous form of oil called bitumen. The largest deposits of these are found in Canada and Venezuela. Refining these sands creates two to four times the amount of greenhouse gases of conventional oil refinery. It is an expensive, damaging process which – until recently – was considered unprofitable since the cost of producing a barrel of oil from these sands cost more than they could sell it for. Perhaps this explains the rise in oil prices and the coming record high of petrol prices in the UK. It would seem the oil mafia have got together and said, “refining oil from Tar Sands is unprofitable.”

“So, let’s make it profitable,” came the reply. “It’s simple – we just bump the prices up. We can’t afford not to make a profit on this; my daughter wants a Bugatti Veyron for her eighteenth birthday, and I know Bob over there wants to buy one of his new mistresses an apartment in New York.”

BP are the latest eco-bullies to take an interest in the Tar Sands in Canada. They have acquired a 50% share in the “Sunrise Project”, perhaps the most inappropriately-named event since the Boston Tea Party. This project produces 200,000 barrels of oil per day, causing untold damage to the local environment and the indigenous population, who have already reported cases of unusual cancers.

Fortunately, BP have been forced to wait until the second half of 2010 to make their final decision on whether or not to go ahead with this project, which gives groups like Camp for Climate Action a window of opportunity. Hence, the Fortnight of Shame.

Over the next two weeks, a number of events and protests will be held to draw attention to this horror that is the Sunrise Project. One such event is the “Party at the Pumps”, taking place in London on Saturday 10th April. They’re meeting at Oxford Circus at 1PM, so anyone who can get there, please do.

The Fortnight of Shame will finish with a demonstration at BP’s annual general meeting on 15th April. Hopefully, this will draw enough attention and persuade BP to stop putting profits before the planet.

As Natasha Blair, a spokesperson for the Camp, said, “[we’re] taking action against tar sands exploitation because we need climate justice, not climate change.

“Exploiting the tar sands is reckless – it is already causing further reliance on fossil fuels, devastation to the ecosystem and death and illness to the local indigenous communities. Big businesses and powerful governments are still pursuing profit at an unacceptable cost to people and the planet. We need a just transition to a low carbon economy, but going into the tar sands is contributing to catastrophic climate change.”

Whatever the result of the Sunrise Project, simply on the basis of the scale of harm it is doing and the pollution it is causing, it is a horrendous, immoral way to make a dollar. Let’s hope the Fortnight of Shame achieves its goals and BP show some respect for this planet and its people, not just for us, but for our future generations.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” — Native American Proverb



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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.

 

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