Economist Lester Brown, in the latest book of his Plan B series, states that "socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth." In its frenzy for more consumers and an apparently equal frenzy to ravage ecosystems, capitalism ignores the obvious truth that human overpopulation may already have reached plague status.
The trip out to the tar sands tailings pond reminded me of other recent trips to places where indigenous people were trying to survive.
It recalled for me a trip out to the Russian Arctic earlier this year to visit a group of Saami (Indigenous) reindeer herders struggling to maintain their way of life, and also the work I did last year with a group of Amazonian peoples who were trying to stop oil companies and oil spills in the Peruvian jungles.
But in the end this was far worse, even compared with those two dire situations, and it was being promoted by the Canadian and Alberta governments.
For those of us who live far away from the Gulf of Mexico, the oily videos and doomsaying headlines are getting to be a bit wearying and are drifting to the back of the news.
After all, we get stunned by the repetition after a while and in the end we can live with environ mental disaster as long as it hap pens elsewhere and as long as it doesn't really affect us. In this case, specifically as long as oil prices don't go up. So far so good, right?
Well, maybe not. Here's the other side of the story. Among the energy institutes, oil economists and other thinkers, the question is whether we have in fact come to the long-predicted tipping point with regard to oil production and prices.
NEW ORLEANS -- The anger is palpable across the Mississippi Delta. As the Deepwater Horizon oil geyser, almost a mile underwater, continues unabated, the brunt of this, the largest environmental catastrophe in United States history, is rolling onto the coast, impacting the ecology, the economy and entire ways of life.
I travelled across the bayous and towns of coastal Louisiana for four days, meeting the people on the front lines of the onrush of BP's oil slick. They are angry, out of work and read the papers about people getting sick.
When the Gulf of Mexico oil rig blew, there was probably not a fisherman or fish plant operator in western Nova Scotia, where I live, who didn't have the same cold flash: an oil rig blows on Georges Bank; the enormous tides of the Bay of Fundy suck half the oil up and down twice a day, polluting everything from Cape Cod to Lockeport and right up to Moncton; while the other half is locked in the "gyre" of currents that goes round and round over one of the world's best fishing grounds
Less than a week after British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and unleashing what could be the worst industrial environmental disaster in U.S. history, the company announced more than $6 billion in profits for the first quarter of 2010, more than doubling profits from the same period the year before. Oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz notes: "BP is one of the most powerful corporations operating in the United States. Its 2009 revenues of $327 billion are enough to rank BP as the third-largest corporation in the country. It spends aggressively to influence U.S.
The annual United Nations climate summit has convened, this year in Doha, the capital of the oil-rich emirate of Qatar, on the Arabian Peninsula. Dubbed "COP 18," an army of bureaucrats, business people and environmentalists are gathered ostensibly to limit global greenhouse-gas emissions to a level that scientists say will contain the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and perhaps stave off global climate catastrophe. If past meetings are any indication, national self-interest on the part of the world's largest polluters, paramount among them the United States, will trump global consensus.