Archive for the ‘Oil’ Category

Michael Pollan (who if you don’t know him you must check out) wrote this great letter titled Farmer in Chief to the New York Times in October to whomever the president-elect would be.

I believe that our agriculture deserves more attention than it is receiving.  The way we shape our agricultural sector is a matter of national security, as Pollan writes.  In fact, many of our global economic, social, and political problems all relate to the food industry.  Supporting local organic farming is not only preferable, it is essential if we want to end the global food crisis, end our dependence on oil, protect the environment, protect workers worldwide, create jobs, help our healthcare systems, and create a more equal and just world.  Yeh, it’s quite a mouthful for just one sector of our societies, but food is a necessity.  We depend on nothing more than food.  So why has it become a mere commodity, a resource, that is grown in non-biodiversified, land-intensive agriculture only to let many of these grains and foods go to waste?

This obviously is linked to a history of colonialism and the conquering of people’s lands and resources to modern economic practices and institutions.  The US agriculture system has been built off of the chemical agents of WWII as Pollan points out, and with the addition of deregulation, subsidies, and the green “revolution” large export, monoculture agriculture has been pushed beyond its threshhold.

This is the time to deal with these problems.  I love Pollan’s idea of the president setting the example for the American public: having dinner as a family cooked from only local in season foods, gardening and growing food on the White House lawn, posting recipes on the White House website.  It does involve changing our lifestyles and the ways we view food and view ourselves.  But this is the reality that we must face.  Our conusmer, production-driven society is unsustainable, not only environmentally, but socially and economically.  We need Change!  I have hope that Obama will be more open to truly dealing with these issues.

(Secretary of Agriculture: Michael Pollan!)


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I just read this article today in the paper.  A little update…

Nigerian Rebels Declare Cease-Fire in Oil Region
Published: September 22, 2008
The country’s main militant group declared a unilateral cease-fire in the southern oil region on Sunday. If it holds, it will end the worst spate of militant attacks to afflict the region in years.
For more:

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I remembered this movie I saw less than a year ago in Seattle stumbling through some Democracy Now! videos.  This is a great interview with the filmaker talking about the situation in the Niger Delta.

This is examplory of the relationship of government and big corporations and those effects on human rights and the environment.  This is a continuation of our colonial practices, using resources in foreign lands, for means of export.  The people of the Niger Delta are made dependent now on this trade in order to receive money for their children, their food, their rights, etc.  But this does not happen.  As the movie says, the people of the Niger were given broken promises…where the oil industries of the West and China take 40% of profits and the Niger government the rest.  The problem is, the money does not trickle down.  The government itself is corrupt and does not serve its people.  But this is the government that our corporations support in order to get away with the drilling of oil resources.  This is the game of free market.

It is no wonder that people want to take up weapons to protest and gain international attention.  That was the only way for these people to even get noticed by Western media.  Immediately though, they were declared terrorists, or violent gang members.  Nevermind, the desperate situation of blatant drawing of these people’s resources, while they are left with polluted waters and acid rain, damaging their fishing food supply and farming abilities just as an example.  Now why would their be such social unrest?  Hmm.

MEND, or the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta demands that the money being made go to the infrastructure of the people.  This group is a response to the strong military that will put down any protest to the oil industries, and it is a response to the apparent poverty, lack of human rights, and environmental degradation.  This is now the desperate situation there.  These are the people that have to deal with the effects of our addiction.  These are the standards that the West creates with our money lending and the World Trade Organization.  Our economy allows, if not encourages, countries to have weaker environmental and human right laws.  Western corporations such as Shell and Chevron, with the blessings of our government trade laws and bank loans, and the cooperation of militaristic governments, are more powerful and have a greater control over resources than the actual people living on those lands containing those resources.  This is the Niger Delta.  MEND is looking for international solidarity in this struggle or a global resistance.  As the movie “Global Village or Global Pillage” talks about, we have to realize that this is even in our own interest… it’s about everyone’s quality of life.

The documentary is called Sweet Crude.  The website is: http://www.sweetcrudemovie.com/.

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