How much pollution is enough? How much environmental toxins can or should we be willing to expose ourselves to? It is not so easy to answer this question as pointed out here, but if you ask Oil, Gas, or Coal industry executives, the answer would be much, much more than what we are exposed to currently, I presume!
It has not been long since the environmental disaster caused by Gulf Oil Spill was all over the US news media. In 2005, Halliburton with the helping hand of their former chairman and CEO, was able to secure legislation that would bring gas and oil drilling the gift of exemptions from environmental regulations including Safe Drinking Water Act. This would open the door for heavy drilling of the American heartland, bringing misery and environmental disaster, not to mention exotic forms of entertainment (such as fireworks to the kitchen sinks) to those lucky Americans who happen to live on the land being drilled using drilling technology known as Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking.
Filmmaker Josh Fox, produced a very revealing documentary entitles Gasland that won Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival 2010. It documents the lives and experiences of the communities impacted by this drilling exercise. Extended portions of this documentary can be viewed online (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6...). Recently, PBS program Now interviewed Josh Fox. The operation for creating each well requires pumping somewhere from 1,000,000 to 7,000,000 Gallons of water infused with over 596 chemicals including many pollutants and some known carcinogens. The documentary talks about an amazing number of these wells across the US, some 450,000. Now, suppose you want to do something about these kinds of practices, perhaps voice your opinion, outrage, etc. Where are you going to start? How about buying the movie, throw a party and see if some of your friends might have an idea how to go about things? Along the way, you might find these resources handy:
- Oil Change International: Price of Oil: Documents and helps expose the true costs of oil, and tries to facilitate the transition towards clean energy.
- Scorecard: Documents sources of pollution in different communities.
- Rainforest Action Network: Campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action.
- Earth Policy Institute: Dedicated to a dedicated to planning a sustainable future as well as providing a roadmap of how to get from here to there.
- Economic Policy Institute: a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank, created to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers.
If you find any of the above useful, you might consider helping them out in several ways, perhaps joining them, letting your friends know about them, providing links to their web-sites, or donating to them.
How about writing a song about how you feel? To inspire you, here is a beautiful song by late singer, song writer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Fogelberg about the natural beauties we often miss. It is called The Wild Places ...