[This article originally appeared in The London Economic]
“Fossil fuels are so inherently dirty and toxic, that they require sacrificial people and sacrificial places, they always have.”
These are the words of environmental activist Naomi Klein, delivering the Edward Said lecture in London earlier this month. As if following her cue, yesterday an alliance of fossil fuel politicians and lobbyists overruled the villages and voices of Northern England. The land and its people have been sacrificed.
Underground rock will be drilled and pumped with high pressure chemicals, sand and water. Local communities will be turned upside down. There could be more minor earthquakes. The extracted shale gas will warm our planet to even more dangerous levels. Local water could become contaminated, poisoned, or even flammable.
Australians recently discovered this blazing river downstream from a fracking site in Queensland:
Extracting fossil fuels is inherently violent. Whether it’s oceanic oil spills, the shredding of First Nations treaties in Canada, ecological genocide in the Niger Delta, mountaintop removals or raging fires – there is no peaceful way to run an economy on fossil fuels.
But what else can we do (cried David Cameron in January) what about the economy? What about our energy security?
Mark Ruffalo explains:
“Mr Cameron you’re making an enormous mistake, and it’s a legacy mistake because there’s no fracking that can be done safely.
Today we’re at the precipice of a renewable energy revolution. This is the new economy. We had 200 countries from around the world all agree that it’s time to leave fossil fuels in the ground.
This is where all new wealth is going to be created, this is where new jobs are going to be created.
Not only that but your people don’t want it. You’ve already told them once before that if they didn’t want it you wouldn’t push them to take it. And you’re turning back on your word, sir. And what is a politician if he’s not credible?
So I would say to you – this is a wonderful opportunity for you to honour your people, to honour their will, but also to take them into the renewable energy future of the world, and to be a real true and honest world leader, and leave the fossil fuels in the ground.
We are being told by every single scientist in the world that we must leave 70 per cent of this in the ground if we have a chance at all.”
Header image: Tim Green / Flickr